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

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”

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”

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.

How Do You Repair Torn Earlobes?

The earlobes are the lowest part of the ears made of skin and a small amount of fatty tissue in between. There are large variations in size, form, and shape. The earlobes serve women (and men) as popular locations for placing jewellery. Often, the earlobes are pierced to fit various forms of ear ornaments ranging from studs to earrings which can occasionally set them up for trouble.

Excessive weight or trauma can easily overcome the strength of the earlobe tissues leading to a tear, which if complete, results in a split ear. Some people with rather thin earlobes who favour wearing heavy earrings, experience a gradual elongation of the ear-piercing tract such that it becomes slit-like and often too large. Another problem is that the earlobes can be torn by accidental trauma. This split may be unattractive and renders the earlobe unusable for most jewellery. Sometimes, clip-on earrings can still be fitted and are used to camouflage the earlobe tear.

The repair of torn earlobes is relatively simple. The procedure is routinely performed in the office under local anaesthesia with an optional sedative. After planning and marking, a small amount of lignocaine numbing solution is deposited. I favour a three-layer repair done under loupe magnification. But it is very important to remove the damaged ear-piercing tract or to trim the edges of the split if the earlobe has been torn through completely.

Then the three-layer closure consists of closing the outer layer of skin, the fatty tissue between the two layers of the skin and finally the skin in the back of the earlobe. Typically, the surgeon must take great pains to avoid any notching at the bottom of the earlobe. The fine sutures on the skin are usually removed within 7 days. Small amounts of antibiotic ointment are applied at home for a few days ensuring cleanliness. The healed earlobe has usually a barely visible pencil-fine straight or zigzag scar line.

People often ask if the ears can be pierced again. They can but typically you should wait three months after the earlobe has been repaired. Preferably piercing should not be done within the scar, as this can stretch and inevitably result in another clot.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Tim – Sydney Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon

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

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 #30: Supplement with a natural stool softener

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After surgery, many patients find that they are very constipated for several days which can cause discomfort.  Dehydration, narcotics and anaesthetic agents used during surgery all contribute to the digestive issue.  You can prevent this problem by eating a few prunes each day just prior to and after your surgery.  You can also take medical stool softeners like oral Dulcolax® or Microlax® enema for post-op constipation.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Dangers of Excessive Weight Loss

Many women that I see for body contouring usually have tried exercise and dieting to some extent or other prior to resorting to liposuction or surgery. A minority of women have taken drastic measures like excessive gymming or starvation diets to try and fit into single digit or low teen dress sizes. This can, however, cause irreparable health problems like the following:

  • no menstrual cycle or abnormal menstruation in women.
  • prevent women from becoming pregnant.
  • cause premature delivery, the birth of low-weight babies who are also undernourished.
  • loss of libido due to suppression of Follicle  Stimulating  Hormone (FSH) and other secondary sex hormones in the brain.
  • suppress the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis which is responsible for the release of sex hormones
  • anorexia or poor nutrition can lead to osteoporosis.

My advice is that no weight loss or fitness program should be undertaken without the direct supervision of your doctor.  Whether you should lose weight, how much you should lose and how you should lose it are decisions that should be made by a medical professional, who may need to refer you to a nutritionist or endocrinologist for further work-up and counseling.  If you want to lose weight and keep it off, your doctor must be part of the equation.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Tim  –  Sydney Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon

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

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

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