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Cosmetic surgery of the face and neck: Things to consider

The decision to have cosmetic surgery is a difficult one. This difficulty is worsened by the emphasis, which is placed on beauty in our society. The improvements in physical appearance that can be obtained with modern surgical techniques and advancements in skincare can be dramatic. Cosmetic surgery has been glamorized by countless TV shows and the mass media, making cosmetic surgery more mainstream and accepted by the general public. However, this media surge often minimizes the inherent risks in these procedures and can generate unrealistic expectations for those seeking cosmetic improvement in his or her appearance. There are many factors to consider before proceeding with any cosmetic operation:

1. Why are you considering cosmetic surgery?
The best reason to undergo cosmetic surgery should be self-motivated. Having surgery to save a marriage, please a significant other or keep a job are examples of poor reasons to have aesthetic refinement. Even if the surgery is technically successful, patients motivated by others are often unhappy following surgery, and often do not achieve the goals that initially motivated the decision to have surgery.

2. Be comfortable with your physician.
Be sure the surgeon is board-certified in his or her specialty and has been properly trained in the procedures being discussed. Ask the surgeon about his or her credentials, the number of cases performed, and for pictures of patients who have undergone similar procedures. A cosmetic consultation should be a discussion and exchange of information, not a one-sided lecture dominated by the physician.

3. Be financially prepared.
Cosmetic surgery and treatments can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Do not strain your finances in an attempt to proceed with surgery. The financial consequences can be devastating. Ask about more cost-effective approaches if money is a factor. Payment plans are now commonplace. Remember the additional cost of facility fees, anesthetic and pharmacy charges.

4. Be aware of the risks of the procedure.
The overwhelming majority of cosmetic procedures are successful with no complications. However, every procedure and operation has risks. Know what the risks are and if adverse outcomes are temporary or permanent. Know the chances of having a complication for the procedure planned and what factors may increase the chance of an adverse outcome.

5. Have realistic expectations.
The glamorization of cosmetic surgery has resulted in a distortion of what may be achievable for each individual patient. Expecting to have results similar to a famous actor or model may simply be impossible depending on the patient. Be wary of any physician who claims that they can alter the appearance to mimic a celebrity.

6. Take time to recover.
Many cosmetic procedures require no downtime, but more advanced surgical procedures often require a recovery period of days to weeks. Be prepared. Do not try to cram an operation into a narrow period of time or before important events such as a wedding or graduation. The doctor should honestly and thoroughly review the expected recovery time, appearance following surgery, and physical limitations that result from the surgery.

If these factors are properly addressed, then the patient should feel comfortable about proceeding with cosmetic refinement. The decision to have cosmetic surgery should be an exciting one that brings happiness. A positive mental attitude is extremely important for any medical or surgical procedure. This positive attitude is usually achieved with education and open discussion between the patient and the physician. Together you can put your best face forward.

The options for cosmetic surgery of the face and neck have increased over the past decade. The ever-increasing emphasis on beauty in western society coupled with the “hustle and bustle” of an active life make a cosmetic enhancement with limited downtime for recovery desirable. Expanding applications of filling agents such as Restylane, new, minimally invasive surgical approaches, LASER Therapy, and BOTOX® can all achieve these goals. Below is a brief list of common facial plastic and reconstructive procedures. Each of the procedures has advantages and disadvantages. Be sure to have a thorough consultation with your board-certified surgeon for the best possible outcome.

Rhinoplasty: Rhinoplasty is cosmetic enhancement of the nose. This operation can produce dramatic changes in facial appearance by de-emphasizing a prominent or deformed nose. Improvement in breathing and the sense of smell can also be obtained in patients with internal nasal deformity.

Blepharoplasty: Blepharoplasty is a cosmetic enhancement of the eyes. The surgery can be performed on the upper eyelids, lower eyelids or both. The goal is to eliminate excess skin, bags and reposition natural fat to give the eyes a youthful more rested appearance. Surgical approaches often leave no visible scars.

Rhytidectomy: Rhytidectomy or face-lift refines the neck, jawline, and midface by removal of excess skin, elimination of fat, and repositioning of deep tissues. The operation can produce dramatic improvements in appearance.

Otoplasty: Otoplasty corrects lop ear deformity and protruding ears. Lop ears are the result of poor development of the normal curvatures of the ear cartilage. This procedure can be performed at any age after six.

BOTOX®: No other cosmetic procedure has grown in popularity as rapidly as Botox injections. Botox is used to treat deep lines and wrinkles created by facial expressions. “Crow’s feet,” “frown lines” and “worry lines” are all casual names applied to these unsightly creases, which can make a person appear angry or tired. Botox interrupts the muscular actions, eliminating the creases. The injections are quick with minimal discomfort and dramatic results can be achieved with no recovery time.

LASER Therapy: Cosmetic lasers have multiple applications including the elimination of moles and growths, tightening of skin laxity, elimination of fine lines and wrinkles, and improvement in redness of the face and nose. LASERS apply intense wavelengths of focused light to achieve those results. A physician experienced in LASER use is paramount to a successful outcome.

Filling agents and injectables: These products can be injected to fill areas of deficiency such as thin lips or frown lines to enhance the appearance of the face and provide a more youthful look. A variety of injectables with varying degrees of success are available on the market. Careful patient selection and education of the patient on the available products are necessary for a successful experience. These products can often be substituted for more expensive surgical procedures and provide temporary improvement.

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