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 #33: Discontinue taking certain supplements

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Some nutritional supplements may cause adverse reactions during or after cosmetic surgery, including prolonged bleeding, interference with anaesthesia, cardiovascular disturbances, and interactions with prescription drugs.  These supplements including dong quai, echinacea, fish oil caps, garlic, ginger, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, kava kava, ephedra, St.John’s Wort, and vitamin E, should be discontinued two weeks prior to surgery and two weeks after surgery.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Why a Body Lift Can Help You After a Massive Weight Loss

If you desire a firmer, more youthful-looking body contour, then a surgical body lift may help achieve your goals. It improves the shape and tone of the underlying tissue that supports fat and skin. In addition, the procedure(s) can improve a dimpled, irregular skin surface, commonly known as cellulite.

Body lift surgery essentially sculpts the body by excision of excess skin and fat and reconstruction of what remains into some reactive contours. Body lifts can be performed in two different ways, to treat either the upper or the lower body:

  • Lower body lift: The lower body lift is the most common type of body lift in my practice. It typically includes a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), thigh lift, and buttocks lift performed at the same time. The incision is concealed around the hipline so that it’s not visible when wearing underwear or a bikini.
  • Upper body lift: For patients with severe skin laxity of the upper torso, an upper body lift may be the appropriate treatment. This typically includes a bra line back lift and upper abdominoplasty. The procedure is individualised for the particular patient.

Candidates for body lifts typically have lost large amounts of weight. They should be healthy and well-nourished without vitamin or mineral deficiencies. They should not smoke, as smoking increases the risk of complications.

Body lift is performed under general anaesthesia, with the patient positioned on their stomach, and the surgeon removes a large, belt-like segment of skin above the buttocks, up to the lower back. When the wound is closed, the thighs and buttocks are lifted. The patient is turned over and the surgeon continues to work on the front of the thighs and abdomen. Indeed, when a surgeon performs a circumferential removal of skin and fat of the lower abdomen, and when combined with undermining of the thighs, it will lead to a lift of the buttocks and thighs. A body lift can be done in two stages, with a three-month gap between procedures, or as a single stage surgery.

Patients usually take at least two weeks off from work following a body lift. I encourage patients to ambulate shortly after surgery. They may resume full exercise approximately 6 weeks following surgery. The results of a body lift are visible almost immediately. However, it may take as much as one to two years, or more, for the final results of the body lift procedures to fully develop. Since weight loss patients have poor skin elasticity, the closure must be as tight as possible. However, over-resection of the skin followed by overly tight closure of the tissues can lead to wound rupture or to broadly depressed scars resulting from suture pull through, breakage or premature dissolution. At the same time, insufficient removal of skin and low-tension closure leaves sagging tissues, skin rolls and/or wrinkles. A body lift should be seen as a critical step in overcoming obesity, with the potential of ceasing or reducing medications used for diabetes and high blood pressure. Patients need to take steps following surgery to maintain a healthy lifestyle, ensuring that their new shape will be long term.

Question: Do you feel that a body lift can improve self-esteem following massive weight loss? You can leave a comment below.

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #37: Use homeopathic Arnica Montana

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Homeopathic Arnica Montana has been used for centuries to treat bruising and swelling from soft tissue injury.  Arnica, which is offered both topically and orally, is ideal for facial surgical procedures like a facelift, eyelid or nose surgery.  This remedy is also perfect for fillers and injectable procedures.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

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”

Avoiding Difficult Patients

As a cosmetic plastic surgeon,  I try and avoid the potential wrath of a disgruntled cosmetic surgery patient.  I do this by trying to predict who will not be a “good”  post-operative patient.  The key is the initial interview which is used as an effective screening process to pick out the patient with inappropriate motivation,  unrealistic expectations or those obsessed with imagined physical defects.  I then simply do not operate on these patients who  “fail” the screening.  Certain  patient  types  to  interview  carefully  before making  the  final  decision  on  whether  to  operate  or  not  include:

  • Patients whom my staff or I don’t ”gel with”for some reason. Initial “gut instincts” may be correct.
  • Perfectionists: Those seeking a flawless result, cannot accept minor asymmetries or slight imperfections after surgery.  They have the potential to be unrealistic patients.
  • Dissatisfied patients: Some of these were dissatisfied with previous cosmetic surgery by another surgeon. She or he wants me to  “fix it”.  They often put you on a lofty pedestal ready for when they fall when things don’t work out so well.
  • VIPs: Someone highly visible to the public, such as actors,  TV personalities, and politicians, have bigger stakes.

Research shows that a small percentage of cosmetic surgery patients are at risk of experiencing psychological problems, such as depression, after undergoing elective surgery.  Some of these patients sue, harass and even threaten the doctor who performed their surgery.  It ’s important then for every patient to get it straight with their surgeon as to whether they have a policy about who pays for revisions when necessary and to make sure the policy ’s provisions are clear before surgery.

Thanks for reading!

Dr.  Tim  –  Sydney  Cosmetic  Plastic  Surgeon

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

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

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 #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 #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”