Cosmetic Surgery: Today and in the Future
Cosmetic surgery has increased dramatically in popularity over the past several years. People’s attitudes toward signs of aging have changed. More and more are accepting the cosmetic surgery alternative.
Cosmetic surgery has undergone significant technological and conceptual changes. Conceptual changes have altered the approaches to facial aging in the forehead, eyelids, and lower face. Technological changes include the use of lasers for facial cosmetic surgery, and minimally invasive techniques for face, breast, and body-contouring surgery.
Any elective surgical procedure carries some risk. But these advances mean faster patient recovery, less morbidity (illness), and natural-appearing results.
What is minimally invasive surgery?
For some surgical procedures, the choice has shifted from traditional open surgery to the use of less invasive means. Minimally invasive surgery is surgery done with the aid of a viewing scope and specially designed surgical instruments. The scope allows the surgeon to perform major surgery through several tiny openings without the need for a large incision.
Minimally invasive alternatives usually result in less pain, less scarring, quicker recovery, and reduced healthcare costs. Nearly everything from open-heart operations to vasectomies is now being done with minimally invasive methods. Operations and therapeutic procedures performed through smaller incisions are becoming standard in surgical medicine.
What is minimally invasive plastic surgery?
In plastic surgery, the term minimally invasive refers to the use of newer technologies, such as a laser, to perform procedures that once required extensive surgery and recovery time. Plastic surgeons now have available a variety of tools and techniques that make procedures such as face and eye lifts more accessible and affordable:
- Laser surgery: Lasers can quickly remove the outer layer of the skin. The laser can tighten the skin, which leads to smoothening and clearing of brown spots and large pores. Lasers can also improve wrinkles, fine lines, forehead creasing, and crow's feet.
- Laser skin resurfacing/facelift: Laser surgery can be used for skin resurfacing similar to the way chemical peeling and dermabrasion have been used in the past. When used for skin resurfacing, the result is equivalent to an intermediate-depth chemical peel with less risk of complications. It is a good technique for the eyelid, crow's feet, and forehead region. It also is effective in the cheek area and lip lines. When the lines around the mouth are particularly deep, the laser peel may require a second treatment.
Eyelift surgery: Eyelifts are among the most commonly requested procedures by both men and women. Drooping of the eyelids can make a person look tired and/or older.
Lower eyelid bagging usually is the result of protrusion of the fat that naturally cushions the eye. This fat is held in place by a membrane that weakens as we age, allowing the fat to become visible as a "bag." Lower eyelid bags can be corrected in some cases without any external incisions or visible scars.
The skin folds of the upper eyelid tends to increase and droop with age. This problem also can be corrected with a laser- assisted upper eyelid lift. Laser eyelift surgery involves little bleeding and bruising, and usually requires a short recovery period.
What are other options for cosmetic procedures?
Today's plastic surgeons also provide options for correcting certain signs of aging — such as crow's feet, frown lines, and forehead wrinkles — in small steps, without surgery. Because these procedures are done over a period of one or more short office visits, these mini-treatments are sometimes referred to as "lunchtime" procedures.
- Botox®: Originally used to treat nervous twitching of the eyelid, Botox now is used to treat wrinkles. Botox treatment involves injecting a small amount of botulism into the muscle that causes the wrinkle. In high doses Botox is poisonous, but in small doses —like those used in treatment — it only affects the muscles being treated. Botox relaxes the muscles, thereby smoothing out the wrinkles. The effect usually lasts about three to six months, and the treatment can be repeated as needed.
- Fillers: Creases from below the eyelids to the chin are best treated by filling them. The most popular compounds used for filling these creases are: hyaluronic acid (HA), calcium hydroxylapatite, fat, and collagen. These add volume to the lips and cheeks or fill lines around the mouth. Fat is harvested during a surgical procedure using a suction device and re-injected where needed. Hyaluronic acid and hydroxylapatite fillers come in a prefilled syringe, and can be injected in the doctor’s office without the need for anesthesia or recovery. Collagen — a cow protein — requires allergy testing and is used a little less often than the other injectables.
- Laser hair removal: Laser hair removal is a procedure for removing unwanted hair. With laser hair removal, multiple treatments often are needed. Usually three to six treatments will result in long-term removal of about 85% to 90% of hair in the treated area.
- Laser vein removal: Unsightly spider veins now can be removed with a flash of laser light. Usually, more than one session is required to achieve complete removal. While slight bruising or discoloration can occur after treatment, this usually clears up in a few days.