Anti-Wrinkle Injections: The Facts

Anti-wrinkle injections are currently the most common medical cosmetic treatment.  There have been  17 million injections that have been safely administered for cosmetic purposes alone since 2002.  It is currently approved for treatment of glabella wrinkles, which are the frown lines between the eyebrows.  Any other treatments are considered “off-label” (a common and legal practice in which a drug is used for a purpose other than the officially approved one).

Here  are  some  other  interesting  facts  you  should  be  aware  of:

  • Clostridium Botulinum (the bacteria that causes food poisoning) was first identified at the University of Gent, Belgium, in  1895.
  • Anti-wrinkle injections consist of Botulinum toxin type A, which was isolated in the purified form by Dr. Herman Sommer at the University of California in the  1920s.
  • Botulinum toxin type A stops the release of certain chemicals at the junction between a nerve and a  muscle, so the message for the muscle to  ”work” is blocked and therefore relaxes.  Its anti-wrinkle properties were discovered in the 1980s  by  Dr.  Jean  Carruthers  (an ophthalmologist) and her husband  Arthur  (a  dermatologist) when patients being treated for crossed eyes and facial spasms told their doctors that their lines and wrinkles had vanished since starting the injections.
  • Anti-wrinkle injections are approved in more than 75 countries for 20 different neurological indications and approved for cosmetic use in more than 40  countries.
  • In the  20-year history of using the drug for cosmetic treatments, there is no anecdotal evidence of any long-term problems because any muscle weakness from the injections is reversible because Botulinum toxin type A ’s action is temporary.
  • Botulinum toxin type A has been used in other conditions such as migraines, excessive sweating,  incontinence, hemorrhoids and has even been used on patients with gallstones.
  • The cosmetic formula on uses a much lower dose of the toxin than the one used to treat major muscle spasms.
  • Anti-wrinkle injections are not a panacea for every facial wrinkle.  Those caused by other mechanisms such as hereditary,  smoking, sun exposure, and the effects of gravity,  do not respond adequately.  Nor are anti-wrinkle injections particularly effective for wrinkles around the mouth.  Other treatments (such as Retin-A, chemical peels, collagen or fat injections, laser therapy, or facelifts) may help for people who wish to minimize these types of wrinkles.

A  U.S. consumer advocacy group called Public Citizen has recently asked the Food and Drug  Administration  (FDA) to reconsider the safety of anti-wrinkle treatments.  However, my main issue with them is that they have grouped together adverse events from both the medical and cosmetic uses of the drug.  They pointed to  180 cases of serious complications like pneumonia and difficulty breathing or swallowing, which included 16  deaths  (collected from  9 full years of data).  Earlier in 2005,  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed  1,437  adverse reports:  406 after medical use of the toxin  (217 of them were serious effects)  and  1,031 after cosmetic use  (36 of them serious).  The proportion of serious reports was  33-fold higher for patients treated for medical problems than for those receiving cosmetic treatments and the worst disasters have occurred when unqualified practitioners administered the drug.  The FDA has also confirmed that there has never been a reported death where a causal link to the cosmetic use of anti-wrinkle injection was established.

Don’t forget that many cancer medications are derived from substances that in other contexts would be considered dangerous.  And many other drugs that are licensed for a  particular condition are used  “off label” to treat other problems.  Remember, all drugs have unwanted side-effects, so that with more people using anti-wrinkle injections, the list of unwanted effects may be growing.

Earlier this year,  the Food and Drug  Administration  (FDA) which reviews the continuing safety of anti-wrinkle injections, notified the public about reports of their serious side-effects.  Most of these,  however, resulted from medical, not cosmetic uses of the toxin.  Medical treatments typically require much larger doses, and many of the patients have other health problems that increase their risk.  For e.g. to treat the furrows between the brows,  a typical dose consists of 20-35  i.u.’s  (intramuscular units) compared to over  200 for neuromuscular disorders.  The reactions included respiratory failure (which sometimes was fatal) in a range of doses and use, many of them “off-label” e.g. limb spasticity associated with cerebral palsy in children.

So,  my  advice  to  patients  and  clients  seeking  anti-wrinkle  injections  would  be:

  • Choose your doctor or nurse injector carefully.  They should be both experienced and competent and make you feel safe and at ease.
  • Injectables should be performed in an approved medical office or medical spa.
  • Ques on the authenticity of the injectable.  Ask to be shown the brand packaging.
  • Pay close attention to the potential complications which should be thoroughly discussed during the informed consent process.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Tim  –  Sydney  Cosmetic  Plastic  Surgeon

www.cosmeticculture.com.au
www.drtim.com.au

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #18: You can move fat from elsewhere on your body to your boobs or butt

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It’s a new process called autologous fat transfer. The purpose of fat grafting is to augment or fill in volume-deficient areas. Of course, you must have donor sites from which fat can be taken. It is important that you do not have any circulation problems, either from a medical condition or smoking. Few people are candidates for this procedure to the breasts. If you desire a modest increase in breast size, you are a good candidate for fat grafting to the breast, but your breasts should already have a nice shape and good skin tone. If you have poor skin, sagging breasts, or want a significant increase in breast size, breast augmentation with fat transfer is not for you. The problem with only using fat for breast enhancement lies in getting large volumes of fat to predictably “take.” Many people who desire a fuller, more rounded buttock will opt for a “Brazilian butt lift,” which uses fat transfer to provide a more curvaceous buttock without the use of an implant. Liposuction is commonly used to both sculpt the surrounding area and collect the autologous fat to be injected.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #11: Your first breast surgery may not be your last

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Twenty-five percent of women will need another surgery after 10 years because implants don’t last forever. The implant could begin to leak over time or a “scar shell” called capsular contracture could develop around it, warping the shape and causing a need for new implants. Weight loss, pregnancy, and change in preference are other factors that could lead the patient having another surgery after a few years.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #14: You can’t go from small to huge all at once

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If you’re starting with a small A cup, don’t expect to go up to a DD cup in one procedure. It’s important to set realistic goals. Your body and skin need time to adjust to drastic changes, so a plastic surgeon will likely suggest going up only a couple cup sizes at first, then increasing the implant size over the course of a few years.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Supplements and Cosmetic Surgery

Herbal supplements and vitamins are known to have a significant and measurable effect on promoting wound healing, reducing bruising,  enhancing immunity, and reducing oxidation caused by both surgery and anaesthetic drugs. However, these supplements are still drugs that could cause dangerous side effects during cosmetic surgery. About 50% of cosmetic surgery patients take supplements (usually more than one), but often do not tell their surgeons because they assume they are safe.  Some  of  the  most  popular  herbal  supplements  taken  are  chondroitin,  echinacea, and  glucosamine:

  • Chondroitin is often used to treat osteoarthritis.  People using chondroitin may suffer from bleeding complications during surgery, particularly when used in combination with doctor-prescribed blood-thinning medications (like warfarin).
  • Echinacea is often used for the prevention and treatment of viral, bacterial and fungal infections, as well as chronic wounds, ulcers, and arthritis.  However, it can trigger immunosuppression, causing poor wound healing and infection.
  • Glucosamine, often offered in conjunction with chondroitin, contains chemical elements that mimic human insulin, and may artificially cause low blood sugars during surgery.

Other common supplements taken by patients that may cause thinning of the blood are the “4  Gs”  (gingko biloba, garlicginseng, and ginger), fish oils and Vitamin E.

Cosmetic surgery should be viewed with the same care and concern as heart or brain surgery. Everything we do is important for our patients, so every precaution and safety should be taken to minimise complications from surgery and anaesthesia. Remember, we need your help and cooperation at all times.  Advise us of every drug you take, prescribed and non-prescribed and cease taking any blood thinning agents 2 weeks prior to surgery unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Tim  –  Sydney  Cosmetic  Plastic  Surgeon

www.cosmeticculture.com.au
www.drtim.com.au

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #13: You can try on different boob sizes before deciding on one

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Using “sizers” in the form of  breast implants or a rice-filled stockings, you can stuff your bra to give you an idea of the size you might like.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #29: Do not smoke 2 weeks prior/after your cosmetic surgery

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Smoke inhibits wound healing because less oxygen is supplied to the body’s cells.  In addition, smoking increases the risk of complications during surgery.  You should be aware that some facial plastic surgeons and plastic surgeons will not perform a facelift on patients who smoke as their wound healing and recovery is inhibited by smoking.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #36: Build a support structure

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Rely on your family and friends to help you during the stressful time of a surgery.  From assisting with household chores to providing emotional support, having them around is a plus.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Breast Augmentation Part 3 of 4: The Plastic Surgeon

I am amazed at how many patients spend more time shopping for a TV or washing machine than they spend selecting a plastic surgeon. Selecting your surgeon should be the single most important thing that you can do to assure an optimal result.

You should have a checklist of essential things to look for in a plastic surgeon:

1)  Certified by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the only college recognised by the Australian Medical Council that can train surgeons in Australia

2)  Be a Member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)

3)  Has hospital privileges to do breast augmentation at an accredited hospital or day surgery facility

4)  Subspecialises in cosmetic surgery

5)  Super specialises in breast augmentation

6)  Recommended by a knowledgeable friend or doctor

7)  Has a curriculum vitae that documents scientific presentations and publications

There are also a few less reliable points that I would like to address when choosing a plastic surgeon. Advertisements and media coverage is paid for by the plastic surgeon and does not necessarily reflect how knowledgeable, competent or experienced they are. Your local doctor may not be in the know of who is best to do breast augmentation and may not have an interest in cosmetic surgery to find out either. Some just refer to surgeons who are their friends from medical school, are in the local area and thus convenient, or who may be paid for by the surgeon to refer you. Never listen to recommendations from anyone who is an “armchair expert” or who has no in-depth knowledge of breast augmentation.

At the end of the day, look at the plastic surgeon’s results to see how good they are. Be very careful with “glamour shots” that can deceive because of lighting, patient positioning and camera angle. They may even be “photo-shopped” or airbrushed. Some plastic surgeons may have models as patients that they have operated on their face but not their breasts (which was performed by another surgeon) and use them for advertising breast augmentation.

There are a further number of “red flags” that you should take notice of. These are:

1)  Completed training in a specialty other than plastic surgery

2)  Certified in an unrelated college

3)  Not a member of ASPS and ASAPS

4)  No hospital privileges

5)  If you are given false or misleading information – claims that are too good to be true.

6)  Unwilling to provide you answers to questions regarding credentials or their curriculum vitae

7)  When the office staff are not courteous, knowledgeable, or don’t spend enough time with you, and don’t tell you what you need to know. Beware of staff who give you all fluff, but no substance, and don’t offer to send you any information. Always insist that the price is broken down into the following categories: surgeon fees, anaesthetist fees, costs of implants, operating room fees, hospital stay fees, laboratory fees, mammogram or ultrasound fees, any other fees. Ask how long the prices on the quote last for. Remember, there is no such thing as bargain surgery. Have you ever seen top-quality surgery for a bargain price? How is the bargain surgeon able to offer such a good price?

When visiting the plastic surgeon’s rooms, look around and take notice of the little things. It should be a quiet, comfortable and modern, an atmosphere that reflects the good taste of the plastic surgeon. The organisation, function, and flow of the plastic surgeon’s office is a reflection of the surgeon’s personality and habits. Think about it. If the office looks messy and unclean, doesn’t that reflect badly on the surgeon who accepts this scenario?

Most of the time, you will recognise a good plastic surgeon without the surgeon having to tell you. If they have integrity, are caring and thorough, then this will definitely contribute to what you will get in the operating room and after.

Question:  What factors do you consider important when choosing a plastic surgeon to perform a breast augmentation? You can leave a comment below.

Wabi-Sabi In Cosmetic Surgery – Imperfect, Impermanent, and Incomplete.

Celebrities, models, and socialites have highlighted some severe complications (including death) from undergoing cosmetic surgery in their pursuit of perfection. This is very concerning and makes me reflect on what beauty is all about. I am reminded at this point of Wabi-Sabi, the Japanese philosophy that embraces the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It would be interesting to see how much of this ancient Japanese philosophy could be embraced in the world of cosmetic surgery and what a difference it could make.

Wabi-Sabi represents the exact opposite of the Western ideal of great beauty as something symmetrical, extraordinary and enduring. Wabi-Sabi is about the minor and the hidden, the tentative and the ephemeral: things so subtle and evanescent they are invisible to unrefined eyes.

Simplicity is at the core of things Wabi-Sabi. Wabi-Sabi embraces the “less is more” ideal talked about today, yet often ignored. Cosmetic surgery needs a lot of Wabi-Sabi.

Thanks for reading!

Dr.  Tim  –  Sydney  Cosmetic  Plastic  Surgeon

www.cosmeticculture.com.au
www.drtim.com.au