Teens and Plastic Surgery: When Is It Beneficial?

I’ve noticed lately a lot of discussion about teenagers and plastic surgery in the news.  When I hear of stories like the “Kylie Jenner Challenge” (a social media frenzy where teens/young adults attempted to suck the air out of shot glasses to create the celebrity’s now infamous “pouty” look; followed by posting videos/pictures of their severely swollen lips after realizing it doesn’t work that way), I am reminded of the real implications society and social media has on teenagers when it pertains to cosmetic plastic surgery.  Collectively, we tend to put age limits on many things and when it comes to our kids, there can be a fine line when considering how young is too young for cosmetic procedures.  Whichever side of the debate you’re on is entirely your own, but let’s take a look at why I believe plastic surgery can be beneficial for some of the younger generation.

Teens and Plastic SurgeryThere are distinct divisions for plastic surgery motivations when it comes to teenagers and they aren’t all that different to those of adult plastic surgery patients.  There are those who may obsess on wanting to address a specific body issue (we call this body dysmorphic disorder; when a patient focuses on their body image negatively and are never satisfied with the way they look), those that are truly suffering physically and emotionally from their physical appearance and then there are those who simply want to enhance certain features (this could be a temporary fad or motivated by public figures as seen on television, movies, etc.).  As a double-board certified plastic surgeon, for me, I work with young patients (and their parents) who are highly motivated for the right reasons, emotionally mature and have also reached physical maturity.  When you have this combination, the procedure becomes more of a necessity for improving the overall quality of life for the teen and in the end, I really do believe that not only the patient, but also the family benefits.

When I speak about procedures among teens, I’m referring to cosmetic procedures and not necessarily medically-required procedures.  Common procedures among my patients in high school and early college years include rhinoplasty (nose surgery), otoplasty (ear surgery) and breast reduction. Overly large breasts can create a number of concerns for young women and men.  It can be especially difficult for student athletes to actively engage in their sport if their breasts cause discomfort and hinder their performance.  In this case, a breast reduction would be explored to remove the excess fat and tissue to a more proportionate breast to body frame ratio.  When a patient approaches a surgical procedure, we want to make sure the body has developed so that significant plastic surgery results aren’t reversed.   For some patients, the nose is such a distinct part of the face and whether it may be too large or perhaps crooked, can cause young patients emotional discomfort.  The facial structure for females matures at age 15 and for men in their early 20’s and at this stage in their growth, rhinoplasty would be the procedure we would explore.  Finally otoplasty, or ear pinning, is ideal for those who want to reduce the size of their large, protruding ears (think along the lines of elephant ears) that make the face unbalanced.

I’m not saying this as a means of encouraging young teens to head to their nearest plastic surgeon if they are unhappy with their appearance; I take this very seriously and spend a lot of time with my young patients and their families when discussing all possible treatment.  The parents should be knowledgeable in the techniques and recovery related to the procedure and willing to consent to their child having the procedure.  In the end, the plastic surgery results that a teen undergoes can have such a positive influence on their wellbeing and ultimately that of family and friends as past insecurities diminish and newly increased self-esteem takes its place.

Don’t hesitate to contact Southern Plastic Surgery, P.C. (SPS) with any questions or concerns you have regarding the procedures we perform and your future cosmetic planning.  You can also keep up with me, Dr. David Whiteman, and the rest of my SPS team on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for the latest plastic surgery topics and news.

Southern Plastic Surgery Intern Spotlight: Meet Hiroki

A Gainesville, Georgia native, Hiroki started his professional career working for a global animal pharmaceutical company for a decade before deciding he wanted a career change.  After growing tired of the monotony of his office job, Hiroki found medicine to be his calling as it would provide the challenging rigor he found most rewarding and also be a way he could help give back to the community.  Currently majoring in Osteopathic Medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Hiroki has been an outstanding example of hard work and dedication to improving the medical field as a whole and we wanted you all to get to know him a little bit.  This month we turn our spotlight on Hiroki and wanted to get the scoop on his time spent interning with me and the rest of the Southern Plastic Surgery team:

SPSIntern(Hiroki)Describe your internship in ONE word.  AWESOME!

What skills have you learned that you think will be most valuable in your medical field?  Grace under pressure.  Dr. Whiteman would often quiz me while in the Operating Room (OR).  Being put on the spot while in the OR is an intense experience with an audience of the OR staff, being scrubbed in and maintaining the sterile field, all while focusing on assisting on the case.  Sweating under the bright lights, I would always find myself fumbling through a response.  Fortunately, Dr. Whiteman was always patient and after listening to my rambling, he would explain how he would have answered the question.   Most importantly, he would map out how to organize my medical knowledge in order to come up with a cohesive and concise answer to any question that might be asked of me during my training.

What’s been the greatest lesson you’ve learned so far during your internship?  Don’t stop suturing to think about a question from your Attending!

What’s been the biggest challenge?  Transitioning from being less of a medical student and more of an actual physician has been the biggest challenge.  As a student, you spend all your time learning medical facts such as anatomy and physiology.  However, as a doctor you need to utilize all the medical knowledge you have learned in a problem solving capacity.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  In an Anesthesia Fellowship, potentially Pediatric or Regional Pain.

What’s the best thing about interning with Dr. Whiteman?  Dr. Whiteman is an excellent teacher who provided me with guidance and excellent insight to prepare me for residency.  It was truly one of my best rotations as he provides ample opportunity for hands-on experience; from being first assistant in the OR to being the point of contact for his plastic surgery patients.  It was a Resident level experience.

As a husband and father of three kids, Hiroki stays busy but still manages to find some time doing what he enjoys to help maintain a healthy work-life balance:

Hobbies: Spending time with my family.

Favorite movie: Forgetting Sarah Marshall (my guilty pleasure movie).

Do you have a personal motto?  “Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou

If you didn’t practice medicine, what would you do professionally instead? A chef, without a doubt. The kitchen is hands down my favorite creative outlet.

Favorite weekend activity in Atlanta:  Picking up a great brie and fresh baked bread from Star Provisions.

Pick one: breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner?  Brunch.

We are excited for Hiroki’s next journey (he recently matched into Anesthesia at LSU-Shreveport) and wish him nothing but the greatest of successes in his academic and professional future!  Check back each month as we feature more of the SPS interns.  Feel free to also contact Southern Plastic Surgery, P.C. with any questions you may have about our practice or cosmetic procedures.  You can also stay connected with me, Dr. David Whiteman, on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

Are Your Hands Giving Away Your Age?

How many people do you know who have been celebrating their 30th birthdays for a few years now?  Sure we may feel young in fashionable clothes and are able to keep up with the lingo of younger generations, but when it comes to aging there isn’t much we can do to hide its transparency without a little assistance.  When gravity begins to take its toll on the skin, as we age, it becomes thin, starts to sag and more pronounced wrinkles and brown spots appear.  Fortunately, advancements in both nonsurgical and surgical cosmetic treatments make it possible to help reduce common signs of aging on the hands and face so you can keep everyone guessing as to what your real age is.

radiesse hand rejuvenation atlanta gaWith the face being one of the most prominent features that is most noticed in daily interactions with people, an aged appearance can make us look tired and dull.  However, solely looking at someone’s face is not always going to be a dead giveaway of their age; we’ve all seen how genetics can keep women and men looking years younger than they really are.  But if you look at the hands, they can be quite telling of a person’s age.  Our hands are constantly exposed to harmful environmental elements, like sun damage, and unless you are wearing daily SPF, there isn’t much you can do naturally to slow down the process.  Cosmetic injectables like Botox® and facial fillers like Juvéderm® and Restylane® have seen successes as wrinkle-reducing treatments for the face, but recently the popular filler Radiesse® was FDA-approved for hand rejuvenation.

Hand rejuvenation using Radiesse® works similarly to the way treatments are administered for areas of the face.  I like to start by determining the appropriate amount of filler to be used to fill out the bony, delicate skin that has thinned out on the hands.  Once I am ready to start injecting, I lift the skin off of the back of the hand (making sure to avoid tiny vessels) and inject the filler into areas that can use plumping.  After the injections are administered, I then gently massage Radiesse® into the hands to even out any bumps and make sure that the treatment successfully covers the soft tissue and creates less prominent veins and tendons.  There is a numbing agent within in the Radiesse® syringe that helps alleviate discomfort for patients and only minimal swelling or bruising may occur after treatment. Results can be seen immediately after treatment and patients can return to their normal activities.   Generally, patients can expect their results to last 1-2 years and touch ups are encouraged to continue stimulating collagen, reduce volume loss and overall extend the result of your younger, more rejuvenated hands.

To learn about hand rejuvenation, cosmetic injectables or the various facial rejuvenation treatments offered at Southern Plastic Surgery, P.C., please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.  Stay up to date on the latest cosmetic plastic surgery and skincare news by following me, Dr. David Whiteman, on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.