Cosmetic Surgery Tip #1: Know your practitioner

Masquerade.001

Select a qualified, reputable plastic surgeon to perform your procedure and research them thoroughly. Find out how long they have been practicing, what qualifications they offer, which areas or procedures they specialise in, and you will slowly get an idea whether they are the right doctor for you.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #2: Meet them in person

Masquerade.002

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.

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

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 anesthetic 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 minimize complications from surgery and anesthesia. 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 #12: Patients take 5-7 days off work for a breast augmentation (same for reduction)

Tips.002

You won’t be feeling 100% after that week, but you’ll be in good-enough shape to head back to the office if your job doesn’t require manual labour. However, if the implant is placed behind the muscle instead of on top (many women choose to do this for a more realistic look and less chance of a “scar shell” or capsular contracture forming around the implant), recovery will be a little harder and you might be sore longer.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

Cosmetic Surgery Tip #19: You can get an areola or nipple reduction

Tips.009

Oftentimes women who get a breast reduction or lift will also have an areola or nipple reduction so the nipple-areola complex is proportional to the new size of the breast. The area around the nipple is very forgiving when scarring.

Photo Credit: Saul Steinberg “Masquerade”

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

Tips.008

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

Tips.011

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”

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

Tips.001

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”

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