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Is Plastic Surgery on Your Gift List this Season?

Every year the holiday wish list gets longer—iPads, perfume, gourmet gifts—and it’s increasingly more difficult to top last year’s or be creative enough come up with something that will really be a surprise this year. It’s no real wonder, then, that plastic surgery has popped up in media headlines as a gift trend in recent years. In many ways, this is the ultimate gift. At the same time, it’s the kind of gift that can easily be received the wrong way if you don’t do it carefully. So whether you may be thinking about getting or giving the gift of cosmetic enhancement this holiday season, we have a couple of tips to making sure it inspires tears of joy, not sadness.

No Surprises

If you plan to show your love this holiday season by putting liposuction (or other procedure) under the tree, be sure this is something actually on your family member/friend/significant other’s wish list. Otherwise, it may end up coming off as a personal criticism or message that you’re dissatisfied with their appearance in some way. (Honey, I got you a breast augmentation even though you didn’t ask for it.) The best time to give the gift of cosmetic surgery is by direct request. In other words, the recipient has already researched treatments and doctors and decided that this is something he or she plans to do once it’s financially feasible.

Surgeon Savvy

One of the biggest ways to ensure a successful cosmetic treatment is by finding the best qualified doctor in your area who has repeatedly demonstrated excellent results and with whom the patient has a good rapport. That said, picking a random doctor out of a hat or based on a holiday special or promotion for someone else is simply not a good idea. If you know that someone wants to have a procedure and you simply want to fund it, don’t buy a certificate from a random practice; instead, create your own personal gift certificate, allocating a specific dollar amount or calling out the procedure you want to gift.

Patient Particulars

Even if the gift giver does everything right, there is a potential pitfall that exists. As the one paying for the procedure, it wouldn’t be uncommon to feel like he or she should be part of the decision-making process. The fact is, any cosmetic treatment is a very personal decision and should be left entirely up to the person undergoing the procedure. That person is, after all, the one who has to live with the results. So if you decide to give cosmetic surgery this holiday season, be sure to let the recipient of your gift know that all particulars are up to them.

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Scar Treatment – How Scar Savvy are You?

From non-surgical facelifting to laser hair removal, the cosmetic surgery industry continues to amaze with the number of high-tech solutions that can wipe out almost any age-related or unwanted imperfection. At the same time, aesthetic medicine isn’t without irony. Many of those amazing tweaks and transformations also come with a risk of a permanent reminder that even plastic surgery can come with a price: scars.

Scar by Definition

Here’s the reality: Any time an incision is made into the skin, the result is a scar. A scar by definition is the seam where the skin heals back together. If you’re lucky (and if you have a talented surgeon), that scar may heal to become invisible. Those not so lucky may be left with a red, raised hypertrophic scar, or worse, a keloid. Those with darker skin are generally more at risk for visible scarring, though they can (and do) affect lighter skin types as well.

High risk or not, there is some good news. Not only can you reduce that risk by finding a highly qualified, talented surgeon, but if you do find yourself faced with a hypertrophic or keloid scar, there’s always laser therapy as an option. That’s right—you don’t have to live with those not-so-pretty surgical leftovers. That’s according to recent scientific research reported in the December issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

The Study

Study authors Rui Jin et al. conducted a meta-analysis of existing research to examine the effectiveness of laser treatment on hypertrophic and keloid scars, which they described as scars that are characterized by an increase in collagen and glycoprotein. These kinds of scars, they write, can cause both aesthetic and functional issues. Not only do these discolored and enlarged scars look ugly and painful, they are known for being itchy, uncomfortable and, yes, painful. While there are a variety of treatment options available on the market today, including silicone topical gels, corticosteroid injections, surgery and more, Jin et al. point out that most treatments are not based on scientific evidence and, therefore, it’s hard to determine which course of action is best. Their aim with this study was to create some hard numbers to put behind the safety and effectiveness of laser therapy scar treatment.

After examining data from 919 patients in 28 clinical trials, they found that 72% of patients with keloids and 68% with hypertrophic scars responded to laser treatment. The best results were achieved in sub-groups who received pulsed dye laser therapy, especially for lighter skin tones, as well as treatment with the 532-nm laser.

Based on their findings, the study authors conclude that laser therapy for scars is both safe and effective.

For the complete article see: “Laser Therapy for Prevention and Treatment of Pathologic Excessive Scars.”


Would You Let Your Teen Have Plastic Surgery?

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the fact is that the number of teens having cosmetic surgery between the ages of 13 and 19 years has been on the rise for the past several years. In fact, those numbers have grown by about two percent every year, with last year’s number hitting 236,000 teens who underwent a cosmetic procedure. That’s according to the 2012 annual statistics reported by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the recognized leading organization of board-certified plastic surgeons.

Rise & Shine

The reason for the increase? Experts attribute this in large part to the desire for younger people to fit in during an awkward and sometimes tumultuous period of life. Whether it’s bullying, self-esteem or confidence issues, or just an undesirable family trait, both parents and teens are deciding to take matters of physical appearance into their own hands.

Sure, we all faced similar issues decades ago during our own youth, but experts also point out that we live in the digital age—one that puts a visual of our physical appearance front and center, whether it’s on a computer screen, tablet or phone. The more you see yourself—and are seen by others—the more those unfavorable flaws in a direct line of sight. In fact, it’s this high-tech phenomenon that’s inspired adults nationwide to have so-called “Facetime” facelifts and other facial treatments.

Despite the signs that plastic surgery may be becoming an acceptable solution for physical fixes for teens, that isn’t to say this course of action is right for everyone. Some teens are more sensitive to the physical and psychological pains of growing up in a judgmental society. For this group, emotional damage and lack of confidence during the teen years may cause irreparable damage. The decision is always best made on an individual basis.

Typical Teen Treatments

Topping the list for teen surgery is breast augmentation, rhinoplasty (nose surgery), and otoplasty (ear pinning).

  • Breast augmentation increases breast size using saline or silicone implants.
  • Nose surgery is used to reshape large or disproportionate noses.
  • Ear pinning flattens protruding ears.

But deciding one of these or other cosmetic procedures is only one step that should be given serious consideration in the process. Even with parental consent, surgery is surgery and comes with risks.

In general, whether for an adult or teen, less is more when it comes to aesthetic treatments. Always take the time to weight benefits and risks, get some kind of predicted post-treatment simulation to set expectations of what your results may look like, and take the time to research the very best doctor to perform your work.

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