Difference between Bad Surgery and Good with a Complication.

As trifling as it may seem to the layperson, aesthetic surgery is serious business. Apart from obvious cosmetic ramifications, the seriousness becomes understandable when one considers that the surgeon must first make a healthy patient temporarily unwell in order to make he or she look better in the end. It is for this very reason plastic surgeons have an added unique responsibility which surgeons of other specialties simply do not bear. Choosing to undergo elective surgery is a series of decisions made by both the surgeon and the patient. As with all aspects of medicine, nothing is absolute, it is about controlling probability.

In this day and age, patients increasingly view plastic surgery as nothing more than a haircut with a short recovery, let alone one with a complication. Even under the best of hands, a complication can arise for any number of reasons and if it does, acting as a team with your surgeon is crucial.  Whether following a facelift, rhinoplasty or any plastic surgery for that matter, almost all complications can be fixed in the end, even if multiple surgical revisions are needed.

It is normal for the layman to consider surgical results as either “good” or “bad”,  but those adjectives can be misleading and are certainly inadequate in revealing the true story behind the result.

“Good” surgery with a complication is not the same as “bad” surgery per se. In other words, complications do not all come from “bad” surgeons and indeed, “bad” surgeons may have  successfully completed an operation without encountering obvious complications. I think it fair to say most patients consider themselves as good people and if a complication happens to them, they will perceive themselves as victims of a bad surgery and by extension, a bad surgeon. So what is the difference between “bad” surgery and a “good” surgery with a complication?

Look at it this way… in any profession, there are the “good”, the “bad” and the “excellent”. For the sake of this discussion, let’s just oversimplify the comparison between “good” and the “bad”. Since plastic surgery is as much an art (or at least an artisanal craft) as it is a science, whereby results are measured both objectively and subjectively, it is not unreasonable to compare a plastic surgeon to any artist or craftsman, including sculptors, painters and woodworkers. Artists filter their talent and vision through years of experience to not only earn but continually solidify their reputation as either being “good” or “bad”. Moreover, good artists become respected by not just producing one “good” piece but doing so consistently, whereas the “bad” consistently create sub par results as judged by the median consensus.

However, all artists, whether good or bad, are limited by the quality of material with which they work. It is known that Michelangelo’s David has been deteriorating at a far more rapid pace than would be expected because of the poor quality of its marble composition. Bernini also broke a piece of marble in half through chiseling into an unexpected vein in the stone causing him to start all over with a brand-new block. Does that make him a bad artist? Hardly not.

In other words, complications happen and that’s why there are consents to protect not only the doctor but also the patient. Consents should ensure the patients are informed as to the shared risk both they and the surgeon take when undergoing surgery.

Many complications are avoidable. Both doctors and patients must do their part to optimize a certain outcome and minimize the risk of complications. Patients must avoid certain medications that may promote bleeding, cease all smoking for optimal circulation, follow instructions and take medications as prescribed. Otherwise, surgery may be self-sabotaged. On the other hand, surgeons must do their part in educating and performing the proper operation in the right patient with skill and dedication.

Other complications are unavoidable and just because they may be explainable in hindsight does not mean they were avoidable within the context they occurred. This is why it is paramount that patients disclose all of their medical history and follow their surgeon’s instructions to a T in order to minimize unexpected situations such as abnormal bleeding, poor wound healing, etc..

What spurred me to write this particular blog was a recent experience having performed a complex revision rhinoplasty on a dear friend of mine of 20 years. Unfortunately, this advanced detailed nasal reconstruction was exacerbated by unexpected physiological conditions including excessive bleeding and poor tissue characteristics. The next day, the patient presented with so much swelling underneath the pressure cast that it was being pushed off the face. The swelling was a hematoma which I immediately evacuated from under the skin (it was 4 1/2 mL, being the largest nasal hematoma encountered by either my colleagues or myself). Accompanying this was necrosis (death) of the columellar skin (the partition separating his left and right nostrils). This was particularly disappointing to say the least because the surgical results in terms of nasal shape, symmetry, tip definition and projection were otherwise excellent. Yet losing coverage over the columella would have serious ramifications.

Despite attempts to bring vascularized tissue using local intraoral flaps, my friend eventually needed the help of a certain specialist to bring fresh tissue to the columella below the nasal tip with a temporary forehead flap.

The arrows on the drawing illustrate that portion of the nasal skin (overlying the columella) that was necrotic. Replacement is required through vascularized tissue flaps

Albeit exceedingly rare, this 1.5 x 1.2 cm skin loss was enough to eradicate not only their trust in me as a surgeon but also our long term friendship. Most patients understandably experience a spectrum of emotions including panic, sadness, denial, anger and ultimately acceptance from a complication such as this. However, nothing could prepare me for the degree of ongoing vengeful anger and hostility the patient and their partner have directed towards me including threats to go to the press and ruin my reputation.

Anger is not only destructive but also lacks focus, therefore it can be especially counterproductive to both healing and a good result (not to mention friendship!). Premature castigations of blame fuel brash, illogical decisions which actually complicate the original complication.

Understanding the differences between “bad” and “good” surgery and “good” surgery with a complication can certainly help put things in perspective. When a patient concedes the net surgical aesthetic result, at least in terms of shape and symmetry, as good if not excellent, he or she is less likely to question, and more likely trust, their original choice of surgeon. Whether their breast lift incision opened or, as in this case, a small but strategic portion of nasal skin died, the affected patient will see the “bigger picture” and believe their surgeon will  do the right thing by having their best interests at heart. This same patient understands that they were not necessarily a victim or unjustifiably punished by “bad” surgery. Instead, they will accept things for what they are, learn patience and develop a sense of optimism to set themselves up for the best possible outcome in the future.

The majority of complications concern wound healing and minor infections. For these, possible antibiotics and the “tincture of time” for healing to occur are required. Other times, simple, clinical interventions such as laser treatment, injections, the occasional scar revision and creams are all that are needed.

Other complications require more invasive solutions. Depending on the type of complication, an expeditious trip to the operatory maybe all that is required (e.g.,to drain a hematoma) whereas staged surgical revisions may be undertaken in the extremely rare case of tissue loss.

Most surgeons will recognize if a particular complication is beyond their level of expertise. A patient should not feel abandoned or simply passed off if they are referred to another expert if a complication warrants it. It is important to recognize that medicine is team work and the referral is simply a reflection of the original surgeon’s dedication to the best outcome possible.

Emotional advice after a complication

Watch out for advice with an agenda. It is understandable that if a complication does arise, fear and anxiety will prompt you to seek solace and advice from friends and family members. While this is wholeheartedly encouraged, it is important to remember that not all the advice given is good especially considering that those giving advice are not often doctors nor do they know the intricate details of the patient’s particular case. Though most advice is well-meaning in intent, some may be motivated by guilt, jealousy, personality disorders or just plain ignorance. Furthermore, the advice a patient may obtain from elsewhere may be counterproductive because it may only increase their level of anxiety.

Stay optimistic and avoid jumping to any pessimistic conclusions. It is not unheard of that acute anxiety will provoke a patient to impatiently reach for the help of an alternative plastic surgeon. Unfortunately, some plastic surgeons may be unscrupulous and advise the fragile, highly suggestible patient into unnecessary and ill-timed surgery claiming it is urgently needed to prevent some permanent deformity. Always keep a line of communication open with the original plastic surgeon to not only help allay personal fears but also be guided in the right direction with a second opinion if necessary.

“A good patient is an educated patient”-

Randal D. Haworth M.D., F.A.C.S.

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

Beverly Hills

Self-Centered Aesthetics

After more than two decades of commitment to delivering the best of what plastic surgery can deliver in terms of aesthetic results and quality-of-life improvement, top Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, Randal Haworth, found it time to expand his philosophy into an adjacent arena. That arena is the nonsurgical approach to optimize the patient’s aesthetic wellness. Dr. Haworth has maintained that future advances in plastic surgery will not lie solely in the operatory but more in the laboratory. Specifically, advances in lasers, injectables, light and genomic therapy will take precedence over any evolutionary steps in surgical technique. Currently, non-surgical cosmetic procedures are rapidly evolving to meet the expectations, budgets and lifestyles of patients of all backgrounds and consequently, their popularity is exponentially increasing every year.

As a world-renowned expert in facial plastic surgery (including rhinoplasty, lip lifts, face lifts, eye lifts and even bodywork such as breast augmentation) Dr. Haworth has come to a point where he need not confine his artistry mainly to the syringe and scalpel but also safely and reliably imbue it into noninvasive aesthetic medicine. Consequently, he and his team at the Haworth Institute have founded Self-Centered Aesthetics, a center devoted to optimum physical appearance, through the safest, most reliable state-of-the-art technology.

Self-Centered Aesthetics (SLF-CA) will be catering to the vast majority of patients’ aesthetic needs. Among the services SLF-CA will be offering are:

1. Laser hair removal with our virtually painless Light Sheer Duet vacuum laser technology

2. Eyelash and eyebrow treatments

3. Removal of wrinkles, fine lines and sagging folds via a variety of methods including essentially all fillers, microneedling with PRP, Botox and lasers (Spectra®, Encore® Active and Deep FX™ fractionated CO2, ResurFX® fractionated erbium and IPL® Photofacial)

4. Treatment of brown spots, brown patches, red discolorations and spider veins utilizing proven laser technology (IPL® Photofacial and Spectra®)

5. Tattoo removal (Spectra® and other lasers)

6. Noninvasive body fat reduction through SculpSure®, a laser designed to achieve up to 20% fat reduction in 25 minutes with virtually no discomfort and absolutely no incisions.

7. Facial feature improvement through the selective use of fillers and Botox®. With refined aesthetic sensibility and an astute artistic sensitivity, fillers (both temporary and permanent), can enhance all aspects of the face. However, to maximize the beauty of a result without artifice or outward fakery requires customized planning to balance patients’ needs with their individual expectations. From a flat forehead with hollow temples to sunken cheeks and dark eyelid circles to thin lips and an ill-defined jawline, the professionals at SLF-CA under the auspices of Dr. Haworth dedicate themselves to make you look your very best!

​Additionally, our CENTER will offer aesthetician services to maintain and fine-tune your SELF and your AESTHETIC results. Self-Centered Aesthetics™ will be coming soon. www.selfcenteredaesthetics.com

Healing after Plastic Surgery; State-of-the-Art for 2017.

“Time is a cruel thief to rob us of our former selves. We lose as much to life as we do to death.” Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey

Living in the modern world becomes more complex and harder as life in the 21st-century becomes faster and faster. We are burdened with responsibilities and distracted by an interminable onslaught of media in all forms including the capricious internet. It seems as if everything is competing for our attention in one way, shape or form while stealing precious time we could otherwise devote to family, friends and simply to our  own selves. Therefore, when it comes to saving time, the need to heal quickly after any cosmetic procedure is almost rapacious.

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or formula to bypass the post operative inflammation of  bruising, swelling and discomfort at this current time. As one of the top plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills, Dr. HAWORTH has seen a thing or two about how patients heal after the thousands of surgeries he has performed over two decades. As a facial plastic surgery expert, he has performed thousands of primary and revision rhinoplasties, brow lift, facelifts and blepharoplasties not to mention the breast implant operations throughout his career and has realized there are things you can do both at home and in the clinical setting to accelerate your healing.

First of all, it is a good idea to focus on whole foods as much as possible while avoiding processed ones as the former will contain the highest levels of vitamins and amino acids your body will need for a speedy recovery.  Amino acids help wounds heal faster and obviously, these are found in  chicken, meats, egg whites, fish, brown rice, healthy nuts like walnuts and almonds or sunflower seeds. Taking supplemental vitamin C in your diet while increasing zinc in your diet can be helpful. Instead of taking vitamin C for a bottle, you can eat strawberries, papayas and citrus fruits which are great sources of vitamin C.  500-1000mg  is the usual amount that is taken. Zinc is found in oysters which have one of the highest levels of zinc found in any food. If you are going to take a supplement, 15 mg of zinc daily is the recommended amount but you can increase your zinc intake to 30–50 mg for 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after surgery, using zinc picolinate.

Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Haworth also recommends these useful supplements to take in preparation for your surgery include:

B12 and Iron – Iron and B12 both aid bone marrow in forming new blood cells, so incorporate foods like fish and eggs.

Vitamin B6  250mg, twice a day for a week, starting 3 days after surgery. This helps reduce post-surgical fluid retention, such as swelling of the face, hands, feet or legs. With B6, you can experience substantial reduction within 24 to 48 hours.

CoQ10- Surgical trauma (particularly from cardiac surgery) causes an increase in free radicals, which  damage cellular function. For this reason alone, you should take at least 50 mg of CoQ10 as part of your daily routine before your cosmetic surgery and 100–200 mg/day for at least 4 weeks after.

Fiber and probiotics – This combination helps boost the immune system and also keeps your digestive tract moving along. Eating yogurt with granola is just one easy way to get a serving of both fiber and probiotics! When choosing a probiotic, consider one that contains acidophilus and bifida bacteria (follow label instructions for dosage). Surgical patients often receive oral or intravenous antibiotics in the hospital, which creates the potential for  yeast infections, digestive disturbances and diarrhea. A probiotic may help counteract these problems.

One amino acid that has been shown to speed with healing is glutamine and a study from Harvard and Dave showed that it shortened healing by about four days. Apart from supplements, glutamine can be found in beef, chicken and all types of fish. Dairy products such as cheese, milk, yogurt and eggs contain glutamine with ricotta and cottage cheese being the two richest sources. Vegetarians can find glutamine in beans and lentils. For most of his patients, facial plastic surgery specialist Haworth recommends supplemental Arnica Montana, Bromelain/ Bromezyme (this pineapple enzyme helps prevent blood clots, aids digestion while decreasing inflammation and pain after surgery) and Pycnogenol/Pine bark. This triumvirate is aimed at reducing bruising, soreness and inflammatory edema. Apart from the above, many patients inquire about any other additional medications, exercises or procedures that can be done to maximally reduce their healing times after surgery. Of course, all patients should ask their individual physicians or surgeons about their own personalized recommendations to speed up recovery which is beyond the scope of this post.  
Bioptron® Light employs a combination of polarized infrared and visible light (480nm-3400nm) considered beneficial in the treatment of wound problems and injuries by exerting its effect at the cellular level. Bioptron® therapy has a low energy density (fluency) of 2.4 J/cm2 at a distance of 10 cm and can penetrate the skin up to 2.5 cm.
This patient had impending skin necrosis around her here after a facelift. Only 7 days of Bioptron ® light therapy were administered and notice the rapid improvement in reversing the damage.
After 5 days of Bioptron® therapy to resolve bruising resulting from lower eyelid procedure to treat her dark circles/tear troughs.
After 3 days of Bioptron® light therapy to accelerate the resolution of bruising and skin injury after a breast reduction by Dr. HAWORTH.

It has been used effectively in the treatment of burns, pressure sores, leg ulcers, wounds, pain and recently, postoperative healing. Dr Haworth have found it very useful in his clinic to reduce both swelling and bruising. Supporting his experience, other plastic surgeons here and abroad have noted decreased resolution times of eccymosis and edema following surgery by over 33% with Bioptron®. Indeed, it has been used to also reverse the course of cutaneous necrosis as well as accelerate granulation of open wounds, either alone or in conjunction with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room or tube. It is a well-established treatment for decompression sickness, a hazard of scuba diving. Other conditions treated with HBOT include serious infections, bubbles of air in blood vessels and non-healing wounds as a result of diabetes or radiation injury.

In a HBOT chamber, the air pressure is increased to 3 times higher than normal air pressure and under these conditions, your lungs can gather more oxygen than would be possible breathing pure oxygen at normal air pressure. However, there is some confusion about what actually is “true” HBOT. Those employing “soft” tent like enclosures are essentially useless since they are unable to obtain a true hyperbaric environment of 2 to 4 atmospheres absolute (ATA). In fact, these personal or home-use “hyperbaric”  tent enclosures can usually only attain a pressure of 1.3 ATA. There is a debate as to how much and how many treatments are necessary to speed up recovery after plastic surgery. While most plastic surgeons perhaps recommend one preoperatively and at least 3 to 5 postoperatively, experts in the field say one needs at least 15 to 20 treatments in order to see significant results. In my experience, 3 to 5 treatments are all that is necessary to achieve the more modest goals of reducing edema, bruising and discomfort resulting from elective  plastic surgery.

After certain surgeries, body contouring plastic surgery expert Dr Randal Haworth may also recommend selective lymphatic massage/drainage to resolve edema (swelling)  of the extremities, particularly after liposuction or liposculpture.

The above aforementioned vitamins, nutritional supplements and clinical interventions may not be the panacea to surgical healing which comes in a pill form, but they certainly are a step in the right direction in making recovery from any procedure as smooth as possible in 2017.

Dr Randal Haworth

2017 Beverly Hills

       

2016 State-of-the-art lip shaping-Dr. HAWORTH on the “Doctors’ show

Very few surgeons in the world understand aesthetics to the point where they can be a  true hyperaesthetic facial plastic surgeon specialist. A hyperesthetic specialist is similar to the conductor of an orchestra-he or she needs to know all the instruments better than the individual players in order to “orchestrate” them to create melodious harmony without dissonance. One of the keys to create visual harmony in the face is mastering lip rejuvenation surgery-it’s not just about adding volume (which is essentially what most practitioners and patients equate with lip enhancement), it’s about mastering the shape of both the upper and lower lip. Patients travel  from all corners of the globe to top Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and lip augmentation specialist, Dr Haworth to undergo hyperesthetic change, which may include any number of surgical art performances including a high-profile facelift, endoscopic brow lift, blepharoplasty, rhinoplasty or his lip reshaping signature surgery! https://youtu.be/cI3nEq5R3x8

Kybella ® vs. liposuction for a double chin

While we in the cosmetic industry are getting better and better at delivering the results that patients expect, I still hold fast that 60 to 70% of modern high-tech materials and devices in plastic surgery over promise and under deliver ! Considering that the future of plastic surgery will be less about actual surgery as more more and more technological advances are made in the lab (think genetic engineering, better fillers, better lasers, etc.), this 60-70% statistic is rather disappointing. What makes this all the more egregious is the fact that doctors are forced to pay an arm and a leg for such underperforming technologies (Ulthera ® Thermage®, etc.). In light of the fact you can get a state-of-the-art Tesla  with all the bells and whistles for around $100,000, paying $150,000 or more for a machine that just delivers fuddy-duddy ultrasound technology through a wand to aid in liposuction is frankly outrageous. However, the medical tech companies can’t be solely blamed for this-they are basically governed by the FDA’s policies which, in turn, are a response to precedents extrapolated to an absurd degree by  lawyers. Unfortunately, I have seen it all too many times – a new plastic surgery technology coming out amidst a flurry of media only to fade into relatively rapid obscurity. This is similar to a Billboard chart topper only to turn out to be a one-hit wonder! In my opinion the latest overhyped snakeoil is Kybella® from the big pharma conglomerate Allergan®, proud makers of Latisse®, Botox®, Voluma®, Juvéderm®, etc. I was glad to hear from some of my esteemed colleagues at the recent American Society of Plastic Surgery meeting in Los Angeles that their thoughts on Kybella ® echoed mine.   Taking into account Kybella’s negative points, which include: 1.  relative risk of damaging important facial nerves, 2.  cost (though one treatment is less expensive than liposuction, more often than not multiple treatments are necessary and these, of course, add up), 3.  associated pain, 4.  longer recovery (which, ironically, is worse than surgical liposuction since remarkable swelling can occur after every injection session) and 5.  inferior results to those obtained  with aesthetically and skillfully performed liposuction …there is little to no advantage in utilizing Kybella® for my patients except perhaps for its superior multi-million dollar marketing campaign! Indeed, micro liposuction can provide unprecedented control in removing  fat to treat a double chin while refining the jawline and addressing the jowls as well-all with less downtime and more economically so in the end. Case in point:
Dramatic perioral rejuvenation including improvement of the jowl and chin utilizing a combination micro liposculpture and fat transfer
Dramatic perioral rejuvenation including improvement of the jowl and chin utilizing a combination micro liposculpture and fat transfer. Note the smoother jawline and submental (chin) region all performed with delicate no scar facial surgery without a face or neck lift.
Dramatic perioral rejuvenation including improvement of the jowl and chin utilizing a combination micro liposculpture and fat transfer. Note the smoother jawline and submental (chin) region all performed with delicate no scar facial surgery without a face or neck lift.
After combination micro liposculpture and fat transfer. Note the smoother jawline and submental (chin) region all performed with delicate no scar facial surgery without a face or neck lift.
After combination micro liposculpture and fat transfer. Note the smoother jawline and submental (chin) region all performed with delicate no scar facial surgery without a face or neck lift.

The Fallacy of “Stem Cell Facelifts”-the Verdict

In addition to  facial rejuvenation, buttock  and breast augmentation, stem cell marketing has reached such peaks that one may posit that they harbor the solution for global warming.

Postulated uses of stem cells
Postulated uses of stem cells
A recent study came out in our esteemed, peer-reviewed journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery addressing stem cell enriched fat transfer versus “regular” fat transfer  (PRS Journal: stem cell rich fat transfer). In essence, this study showed there was no difference in the effects of a fat transfer whether it was enriched with stem cells or not. This was essentially the same conclusion of a blog post I wrote a few years back. However, what makes this news different is that it comes from  a well-designed, randomized prospective study.

You may then ask yourself why are there so many doctors promoting  stem cell facelifts and fat transfers as being the chalice of youth or life’s elixir to immortality and aging. The simple answer is finance and marketing. By promoting your fat transfer as being different, labeling it with the trendy buzz prefix of “stem cell”, prospective patients will naturally think they are getting something better, longer-lasting and more natural.

You may then ask yourself why their before-and-after photos are impressive. The simple answer is that for every before-and-after photo of a stem cell-enriched fat transfer there are 10 equally-as-impressive before-and-after results from regular fat transfers. The bottom line is that one can achieve equivalent results from a regular, well-performed fat transfer-specifically, one in which the fat is appropriately harvested, cleaned and transferred by the physician with precision and artistry. Fat is basically serving as a filler, but one that is extraordinary. Extraordinary because it is not only permanent but is actually living as well-consequently it can grow or shrink depending if the patient gains or loses weight, respectively.

Stem cell embryonicStem cell science is in its infancy and we have much to learn. Indeed, many stem cell scientists now believe that the byproducts  of stem cells (cytokines, etc)  play a  far more important role in healing than the actual stem cells themselves.Fat is a rich source of stem cells but to assume that the stem cells, when transplanted into the face, can miraculously know how to uniquely reverse aging is pipe-dreaming at best.



Randal Haworth M.D., F.A.C.S.
Beverly Hills

The most obvious tell-tale sign of a facelift

Good plastic surgery is invisible but many people insist that they can always spot anyone who has had plastic surgery. For example, they claim they can always spot a celebrity with a facelift and list those with obviously sad results that garner all the press. You can refer to the three attached photographs as examples of such. (They go on to name others who have not had any plastic surgery and when I in turn correct them, they express bewildered disbelief.)
Joan Rivers with obvious plastic surgery and pixie-ear deformity
Joan Rivers with look-at-me pixie-ear deformity
 
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Bruce Jenner with a plain-as-day pixie-ear deformity after a facelift
Mickey Rourke sporting his obvious Pixie-ear and man-bun on the red carpet
Mickey Rourke sporting his obvious Pixie-ear and man-bun on the red carpet
However, this blog post is not about good plastic surgery, it is about the bad and the ugly. There are many signs that scream “facelift”:

1. Overly pulled face skin with diagonal grooves

2. Altered hairlines such as pulled-back sideburns

3. Widened, non-hair-bearing scars with step-offs in the natural hairline behind the ear

4. Distorted anatomy in front of the ear canal due to effacement of the delicate tragus cartilage and finally…

5.”Pixie ear”.

Most of these aforementioned problems stem from misplaced anchoring of the newly redraped skin flaps resulting in needlessly excessive tension across potentially visible scars. One immutable rule in plastic surgery dictates that such increased tension can create widened scars, hair loss and distorted anatomy. Yet, despite these well-documented problems, I unfortunately still see many patients who seek correction of these stigmata of ill-conceived facelifts.

Correcting these problems is not an easy task. Generally, a secondary facelift needs to be performed to release enough skin so that both scars can be removed and closure achieved in a tension-free matter. If it happens to be a lucky day, scars that were placed in front of the ear can even be moved more posteriorly to within the ear canal as in this example of a facelift I performed in order to not only make her look younger but also remove her telltale signs of past substandard surgery.

Pixie earlobe after a facelift. Note scar in front of the ear
After correction with revision facelift and tension realignment


Pixie ear deformity and tired appearance after previous facelift
Pixie ear deformity and tired appearance after previous facelift
Note correction of pixie-ear deformity after revision facelift. An endoscopic brow lift, fat transfer and upper lip lift along with a lower blepharoplasty were also performed
Note correction of pixie-ear deformity after revision facelift. An endoscopic brow lift, fat transfer, upper lip lift and a lower blepharoplasty were also performed

“The Lifestyle Lift”-LSL . Does that really stand for the long scar lift?

  The myths and realities of the Lifestyle Lift

As with any service industry, there are convenience stop businesses and destination businesses. You see that with restaurants (think of McDonald’s or Chili’s versus French Laundry, one of the best restaurants in the United States) and you see this concept applicable to the plastic surgery business. I stress the term business  and not medical field for a reason in this essay. I can safely say that most people that pursue higher education in any country do so to seek a better life, better pay and have more opportunities come their way. Of course, most scrupulous doctors experience immense satisfaction from treating their patients as well and, cynically speaking, are not simply in it for the financial award.

Like all professionals, doctors do seek out (and deserve) a certain financial reward for all the years of dedication, study, stress and life sacrifice they undergo in order to carry out their profession and deliver the best care they can to their patients. However, in this day and age of increasing competition and commoditization in all aspects of health care including plastic surgery, surgeons are forced to perform more surgeries at lower costs and possibly increased medical risk to patients. This alarming trend can especially be seen in plastic surgery where the end results of a hastily performed surgery are not hidden within a body cavity but are plainly visible on the face. Some of my colleagues brag about the speed at which they perform a surgery citing the many corners that they “cut” during an operation as unnecessary steps (no pun intended). I suppose they feel more akin to a Usain Bolt than that of a gifted watchmaker.

This brings me to the title of this blog post-The Lifestyle Lift. To the unsuspecting public this facelift is heavily marketed as a viable, simpler, safer, faster quality facelift at a fraction of the price. In fact, this facelift is an overly simplified distillation of pre-existing ideas wrapped in a new packaging as something brand-new and revolutionary. The one aspect that is revolutionary about this facelift is that it is one of the first surgeries that has been rebranded and marketed directly to the “consumer”. The company then refers the “consumer’ to one of their participating surgeons in the network to become a patient. Unfortunately, as a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon board-certified by the American Board of plastic surgery, I have seen many results of this “Lifestyle Lift” that reek “cookie-cutter surgery” in which performance is measured in terms of speed and not quality.

I have seen many unacceptable, hideously widened scars most probably stemming from the fact that the surgeon did not perform a wide enough dissection to allow a tension-free closure (which is tantamount to a good scar). I have also consulted with many patients who were dismayed by how the “Lifestyle Lift” failed to meet their expected goals with incomplete treatment of their jowls, neck and midface.

While it is true that all surgeons have their small subset of unhappy patients either because of unrealistic expectations, sub-optimal results or unexpected complications, the large percentage of unhappy patients complaining of their “Lifestyle Lift” is too hard to ignore. For a good article on the subject that appeared in Plastic Surgery Practice.

Stem Cell Facelifts

There was an interesting article today in the LA Times. It was focusing about a new trend to offer so-called stem-cell enriched facial rejuvenation procedures. While there is an obvious knee-jerk, almost giddy appeal to such a sexy newsworthy procedure, there is also a more scientific and sober take on the subject.

Before I begin, one must first understand that these stem-cell facelifts are basically high-priced fat transfers that are supposedly enriched with stem cells. They are branded under many different names such as Stem Cell Facelift®, FAMI, Naturalfill® , Celution, etc. Experienced fat grafting surgeons have long known that successful fat grafting is highly dependent on the techniques used for extracting, processing, and reinjecting the fat cells. Surgeons are beginning to understand that fat processing techniques which result in high concentrations of adult stem cells produce not only long lasting results, but also have therapeutic results in injured tissues. However, it is already well accepted that properly performed fat transfers already come replete with stem cells.

I have been performing fat transfers for over 15 years and know that the results are often spectacular and permanent, recreating youth not only in terms of facial contour but also in terms of skin quality. I realize that stem cells are a normal component of the fat-mix that I or any other experienced plastic surgeon transfers and success basically relies upon the surgeon’s technique and artistry. Those that claim they have the magic-mix or snake elixir because they utilize stem cells in their fat transfer are essentially taking credit for the sky being blue. Their claims of superior results are currently unsupported and amount to nothing more that marketing- a way to get more patients in the door and charge higher prices. It is also important to know what these practitioners are comparing their so-called superior results to- facelifts, fat transfer, Restylane or a healthy diet?

My concern with the “stem cell facelift” is not that it’s a bad procedure, but rather that this is not the most accurate description. Some doctors even feel that calling fat grafting a “stem cell facelift” is misleading. When seeking treatment, make sure that your surgeon relies on science, experience, and skill rather than catchy marketing phrases.

For more information, go to the source, read this article and decide for yourself: Stem Cell LA Times Story