Cosmetic Surgery Tip #17: Reconsider having breast augmentation with a strong family history of breast cancer, are obese, or smoke

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All these factors increase risks and complications during and after surgery. If you have any significant medical issues, you need to be evaluated by your GP or specialist and cleared before having cosmetic breast surgery.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tourism: Is It Worth It?

Cosmetic surgery tourism is a price-driven phenomenon that has experienced increased growth over the past decade. Numerous companies offering all-inclusive vacation packages that include cosmetic surgery are popping up all over the world and can be easily located via the Internet. The offers generally include private hospital services and tout ”highly trained” and ”credentialed” medical staff. Since elective cosmetic surgery procedures are not covered by insurance, the price is the major selling point of cosmetic surgery tourism, with entire vacation/surgical packages costing less than individual procedures in Australia.

Although there are many skilled and qualified plastic surgeons practicing all over the world, cautions is warranted as it may be difficult to assess the training and credentials of surgeons outside of  Australia.  Patients may take unnecessary risks, when choosing cosmetic surgery vacations, by unknowingly selecting unqualified surgeons and having procedures performed in non-accredited surgical facilities.  Patients should consider the potential complications, unsatisfactory results, and risks to general health that may occur.

I very occasionally see patients who have had cosmetic surgery tourism done abroad that have gone horribly wrong.

This is commonly due to either bad surgical technique, sloppy post-operative care, or misinformation that leads to a  less than satisfactory outcome for both patient and surgeon involved.  I  can understand that the lure of cheap cosmetic surgery and a holiday in some exotic destination thrown in for less than the price of comparable surgery at home is often too much of a temptation to resist.  Sadly, most people spend more time anguishing over the purchase of the latest and greatest gizmo than their plastic surgeon.  Before you next consider cosmetic surgery abroad, always remember to check:

  1. The plastic surgeon is well trained and reputable and that you feel comfortable with them.
  2. Make sure that you can communicate fluently in their native language or vice versa.  Also, don’t forget that you need a good anaesthetist to keep you safely asleep during the procedure.
  3. Make sure that the operation you are having is the right one for you.  Often with cosmetic surgery tourism, planning and decision making is necessarily rushed.  You cannot have ‘second thoughts’ and when surgery is planned, too often without seeing the operating surgeon or seeing them just before the surgery for the first time, there is no time to contemplate on the decision made or any informed consent.
  4. Determine that the operation is being performed in a safe environment and any prostheses used (eg. breast implants) are of the highest quality. Cosmetic surgery trips are often marketed as vacations  – but vacation activities should be avoided after cosmetic surgery eg; sunbathing, drinking alcohol,  swimming, jet skiing, taking extensive tours by bus or foot.  These can all compromise wound healing and increase infection rates and other problems.
  1. Lastly, you need to establish that there is appropriate after-care in place.  Whilst most things that go wrong usually happen within 48  hours, there are many things that can occur weeks to months down the track.  Revisional surgery may be required when you’re back home and in these instances can be more difficult because of the uncertainties in surgical techniques used.  Remember,  “forewarned  is  to  be  forearmed.”

Question: What are some of the reasons you would entertain having cosmetic surgery tourism?  You can leave a comment below.

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”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #34: Participate in relaxation techniques

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Listening to relaxation tapes or soothing music, taking a yoga or meditation class are examples of relaxation techniques that help to reduce stress.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #15: Breast augmentations and reductions may affect your ability to breastfeed in the future

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Women who have implants oftentimes choose not to breastfeed so the data sets on these women are unclear. However, if you have an areola incision, there’s a small risk you could damage minor ducts and could disconnect the areola complex with the main portion of the gland, hindering your ability to breastfeed. Women who have underarm incisions or incisions in the crease of the breast should not have a problem.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #31: Increase your protein intake

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Two of the most important healing elements are calories and protein.  Extra protein is needed to build new tissue and blood vessels, repair injured tissue and step up production of cells that repair the wound.  Choose high quality protein sources like fish, poultry, beans & legumes or lean cuts of meat.

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

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 #10: Utilise and insist on a “cooling off” period

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After you have met for a consultation with your plastic surgeon, they should insist that you go away and think carefully about your decision. Use this “cooling off” period to take your time, think through your options, do some more research and talk to your family or friends before making any decisions. If you feel like you need more information, attend a second consultation with the same practitioner or go for another consultation with a second and third practitioner. This will give you further opinions and will help you make a considered, sensible decision.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #4: Meet them in person

 

It is crucial that you meet the plastic surgeon who will carry out your procedure before the day of your treatment. Not all practices demand that patients meet the practitioner who will deliver the procedure in advance. If you are advised that it is not possible to meet in person with the practitioner ahead of treatment, you should not progress any further and choose to go elsewhere. Any reputable plastic surgeon will demand that they meet the patient themselves beforehand. It is also important that you feel comfortable with your plastic surgeon and that you trust them.