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.

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #21: Exercise, especially cardio that involves bouncing, is restricted after surgery

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Although you can start doing light cardio again after a week, most women will need to limit their exercise for up to 12 weeks.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

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 #35: Take a Bromelain supplement

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Bromelain is an enzyme extracted from pineapple.  A number of studies have found that the compounds in bromelain are effective in reducing inflammation, swelling and pain that often accompanies a surgical procedure or soft tissue injury.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #26: Stay well-hydrated by drinking water

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It is important to drink at least 6-8 glasses of high quality water each day and especially the day prior to surgery, to help cleanse and hydrate the body.  Water is especially important prior to surgery, as fluid intake is reduced the day of surgery.  To avoid complications during surgery, be sure that you do not drink anything after midnight the night prior to your surgery, unless told otherwise by your plastic surgeon.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #3: Consult a love one

Confide in a friend or family member. Their input could be very valuable and they could raise questions that perhaps you had not considered before. Of course, a plastic surgeon must respect doctor-patient confidentiality and if you choose to undergo the procedure without consulting those around you, then this is your choice. Nonetheless, remember that this is a big decision and one which might be easier with the advice and support of a loved one.

Breast Lift and Augmentation: The facts you need to know!

The goals of breast lift with or without breast augmentation are to restore shape, volume, and nipple-areola position. However, simultaneous breast lift and augmentation present multiple problems, specifically because it becomes harder to control all of the variables affecting the outcome when combining the two procedures. No single method is best to treat all types of sagging (ptosis), and maintaining a good blood supply to the nipple-areola complex is of paramount importance, so a staged procedure may be necessary at times.

Why is combining a breast lift and breast augmentation the most difficult of all cosmetic breast surgery procedures? The surgery involves manoeuvres that can be counterproductive to each other since the skin is being removed and when closed back up again, pushes the breast in and upwards, whilst an implant stretches the skin in an out and in a downwards direction. These conflicting tensions can adversely affect the blood supply to the breast and skin which may affect wound healing, scar quality etc. Positioning of both the nipple and breast fold also becomes more challenging during simultaneous lift and augmentation. Secondly, no two breasts are the same, and each patient is seeking a different endpoint, sometimes with unrealistic expectations.

The first thing that I do when evaluating a patient for a breast lift is to ask them if they are happy with their present breast volume. You can simply do this by pinching the skin below the breast and pushing it up where it belongs. Most women are amazed at how little of breast volume they actually have. If that is the case, then volume enhancement, usually with an implant, is necessary along with a lift. If the volume is satisfactory, then a breast lift will suffice.

The second thing to do is grade the amount of breast sagging. This is done by using Regnault’s classification which looks at the position of the nipple as follows:

1)  Grade 1 (minor): nipple at breast fold
2)  Grade 2 (moderate): nipple is below the fold but above the lower breast contour
3)  Grade 3 (major): nipple is below the fold and below breast contour
4)  Pseudoptosis (“false sagging”): nipple lies above the fold, there is little breast volume, some of which lies below the fold

Other characteristics that one looks out for are:

1) Skin: elasticity and excess;
2)  Breast tissue:  firm and fibrous or soft and fatty; and
3)  Skin-breast tissue relationship: firm and adherent or loosely adherent and is the breast full or empty. Skin quality and the skin-breast tissue relationship are the key factors in determining the breast lift procedure and the quality and longevity of the final result.

As a general rule, if the skin elasticity is normal, the breast envelope is full, and the skin is adherent to the underlying breast tissue, then the scars would be limited, and vice versa. In other words, one progresses from limited scars such as periareolar scars (scars around the nipple-areola complex) to periareolar-vertical scars (scars that run down the front of the breast below the nipple-areola complex) to more extensive, full-length inverted-T or anchor scars.

For the patient with “pseudoptosis,” inserting a breast implant alone, usually tear-dropped shaped, is typically all that is needed. For Grade I sagging, an implant alone or a lift plus an implant may be required.

Depending on a number of factors, the lift may be performed via a crescent, periareolar, or vertical approach. A vertical approach is preferred if there is significant looseness below the nipple. However, the periareolar incision is generally used in just a few specific situations. Since this skin-only incision is unable to lift much weight, it is an option in women with small breasts who need only a small amount of nipple repositioning, usually < 2 cm.

In addition, it is considered advantageous in women with pointed, conical or tubular breasts, because it causes areolar flattening and eliminates the tubular nature. The main issue I have with performing a periareolar breast lift is its tendency to cause areolar flattening and leave the areola more prone to stretching.

In Grade 2 sagging, especially where the breasts are large and heavy, a vertical breast lift is often required because it will effectively lift the breast tissue to achieve increased projection. However, a periareolar incision may still be considered for women with light breasts. When performing a vertical breast lift, the procedure may be converted into a short inverted-T lift if a difficulty is encountered controlling the nipple-to-breast fold distance.

With Grade 3 sagging, the lift technique depends on the nipple-to-breast fold distance. If it is > 10 cm, most surgeons perform an inverted-T breast lift. Otherwise, vertical breast lift remains an option that will enable control of the nipple-to-breast fold distance, as the vertical scar tends to shorten in the post-operative period with scar contraction.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Tim – Sydney Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon

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

Breast Augmentation Part 4 of 4: The Surgical Facility

Your safety is of paramount importance when undergoing breast augmentation. Always have your surgery in an accredited hospital or day surgery facility. If you are young and healthy, then a day surgery facility is fine. If you are older and have health problems, then a hospital would be a better place to have the procedure performed because of the availability and back-up of an intensive care unit and other highly specialised healthcare professionals.

Accredited means that the surgical facility has passed a set of rigorous examinations to assure that the equipment and procedures meet standards for optimal safety. The hospital or day surgery facility should be fully accredited by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS) or a set of ISO standards that provide the highest standards of service. Patient health, safety, and comfort should be the surgical facilities main concerns and they should continually monitor and evaluate their performance to achieve these outcomes. Another requirement of accreditation is to assure that personnel is trained, experienced, and skilled healthcare professionals and procedures and equipment are in place to deal with any emergency from a power outage to cardiac arrest.

Sometimes it’s reassuring to visit the accredited facility yourself. If you’re not comfortable with a surgical facility, don’t have the breast augmentation surgery there. What you want to see is modern and comfortable surroundings, as well as caring and warm personnel. The operating room should appear state-of-the-art, spotlessly clean, and equipped with the most up-to-date equipment. The recovery area should be immediately adjacent to the operating rooms. Some surgical facilities provide overnight accommodations with one-on-one nursing care especially for patients who need overnight care for more extensive procedures.

The following checklist should help you “tie things up” when organising your breast augmentation:

1)  Check the date of surgery and pay scheduling deposit if required

2)  Review surgeon’s financial policies and policies for refunds

3)  Sign informed consent and operative consent forms for breast augmentation

4)  Schedule laboratory tests and mammography/ultrasound if required

5)  Review medications to avoid and ones to take before surgery

6)  Review post-operative instructions the night before surgery

7)  On the day of surgery wear comfortable clothes, get someone to drive you home and be with you overnight, wear no make-up, and leave your jewellery and valuables at home

Question: What things do you consider important in the surgical facility when having a breast augmentation? You can leave a comment below

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #23: Your boobs do not need to be a minimum size for a reduction

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This is all based on personal preference. Think of boob size in terms of a scale from small to large. Based on breast size before the procedure and desired breast size afterward, there are a number of incision options for a reduction for a huge range of results. You can even choose to get a reduction and an implant to replace some of the volume that you’ve lost over time.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #22: Augmented breasts will affect your posture just like the weight of natural breasts would

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The weight difference between equal volumes of saline, silicone, and breast tissue is slim to none, so a natural C cup and an augmented C cup are very similar in weight. If you choose an implant size proportional to your frame, you will see little effect on your posture. However, if you choose large implants, you will feel the effects.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”