Why Plastic Surgery Is Not a Freak Show

Let’s be honest, some people in today’s society attach stigmas to plastic surgery – some may be good but others can be scathing. Everyone has an opinion on just about everything these days and I find myself still being disappointed by the negative comments I read on cosmetic plastic surgery articles. In my over 22 years of plastic surgery experience, the main motivator that pushes me to do better and work harder is the positive way plastic surgery can change lives. It’s the giant smile on a mother of three’s face when she expresses she never thought she’d see her youthful body again, the teenager who is excited to be able to swim with his friends without feeling embarrassed by his male breasts, and the tears of joy from a young woman in her 20s who had stopped looking at herself in the mirror because her nose was all she could see – it’s for all of them, and those to come that I do it. So when I see such judgment being directed towards those that choose plastic surgery because they want nothing more than to lead a happy, active lifestyle, I feel the need to speak up. Even though certain tabloids and media outlets love to cover the most bizarre and often over the top, one in a million fanatical cases, plastic surgery is not a freak show.

Why Plastic Surgery Is Not a Freak ShowFor many people, plastic surgery is the only way to help reduce functional body issues some active men and women face on a daily basis. I saw an article over the past few months that claimed more women were electing to have labiaplasty (a procedure that reduces the folds of skin surrounding the vulva, called labia majora and labia minora) because they weren’t happy with the way they looked in yoga pants. That type of motivation is purely cosmetic and not exactly a reason that I would have ever considered before reading that article, but for the aspiring dancer who can barely move without having extreme discomfort due to chafing or the teenager whose period causes incapacitating labial swelling and pain, this type of procedure is life changing.

Our bodies are not symmetrical and many of us have quirks that make each of us unique. It’s when day-to-day living is a physical struggle or when a person’s health is at risk that plastic surgery becomes the type of treatment that is most effective. Men who have gynecomastia, the medical condition where they have oversized male breasts, can cause an immense amount of insecurities that keep them hiding inside. Exercise is vital for both brain function and nourishing the body so we can perform at our best. Women with overly large breasts also find themselves in a similar boat in regards to health concerns. Large breasts can contribute to chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain, leaving it virtually impossible to properly exercise without experiencing discomfort. Instead of suffering day in and day out, these types of cases look to breast reduction (for women) and male breast reduction to alleviate the excess fatty tissue and skin that make up their once pendulous and extremely heavy breasts.

The thigh gap concept was also another “trend” I saw that got a lot of attention but also added some negative opinions of body contouring. Instead of certain body contouring procedures being accredited for helping patients with what I like to call “friction syndrome” (like when the inner thigh rubs together constantly to the point of causing clothes to feel uncomfortable, chafing, and pain) that interferes with walking and simply being able to function without being miserable, the benefits are being overshadowed. But whether a patient chooses to go with liposuction or a thigh lift to address their lower body or the SculpSure™ nonsurgical fat reduction method, they’re alleviating a genuine concern that is persistently bothersome – and there’s nothing freakish about any of that in my opinion.

Thanks to advancements in technology and the constant improving of surgical techniques, patients have access to more options today than ever before. The internet and social media certainly have become hot beds for conversations and shared opinions on all things plastic surgery, but at the very core, the choice for a person to undergo any surgical procedure should be extremely important, personal, and shouldn’t be dictated based on societal views and prejudices. Vanity will perhaps always exist but I think keeping an open mind when considering the pieces of a person’s story we may not know, before lumping them into negative stereotypes, will foster a stronger support system within our community and view those who benefit from plastic surgery in a more positive light.

The Power of PAL (Power-assisted Liposuction)

Liposuction has consistently remained one of the most popular cosmetic plastic surgery procedures for men and women who wish to re-contour localized parts of their body. Even with the introduction of alternative body contouring treatments like SculpSure™ nonsurgical fat reduction, liposuction ranks among the top three most sought after procedures. There are several different liposuction techniques board-certified plastic surgeons can use to target accumulated fat cells, but today, I want to talk about fighting unwanted fat with PAL (Power-assisted liposuction).

The Power of PAL (Power-assisted Liposuction)In 2015 alone, the reported number of liposuction procedures jumped 5% with over 222,000 procedures performed just in the U.S.* – and ranking it second just behind breast augmentation. Starting with the basics, traditional liposuction patients typically treat areas that have become resistant to exercise and healthy eating like: thighs, love handles, abdomen, chin, buttocks, etc. Utilizing the tumescent liposuction technique, which uses an injected anesthetic fluid to make fat removal smoother, quicker, and safer, a small incision hidden within the natural contours of the body is made to allow a very thin tube (called a cannula) to reach the fatty tissue. It’s with the help of the cannula that I’m able to manually suction the fat out effectively.

What is power-assisted liposuction (PAL)?

Power-assisted liposuction (PAL) uses a special mechanical cannula that creates rapid vibrations within the layers of the fat. The vibrations break up the fat cells and make it much easier to suction out affected cells from the treatment area. The benefits of PAL include:

  • Allows more precise excess fat removal which lead to better liposuction results
  • Can sculpt once harder to reach areas like the inner thighs, male breasts, and around the belly button + harder to suction, more fibrous fat
  • Micro-movements let me target specific areas of fat without damaging the surrounding tissue
  • Quicker treatment times – means less time you spend in the operating room and the faster you get to rest easy in your own home
  • Less bruising
  • Reduced recovery time

What else can power-assisted liposuction (PAL) be used for?

Using a patient’s own harvested fat during cosmetic procedures has opened the doors for more ways to augment the body (specifically the face, breast, and buttocks) in recent years. I personally have been interested in using power-assisted liposuction beyond body contouring and have found this technique to be particularly advantageous during fat transfer procedures. I’ve found it can provide great benefits when used during Brazilian Butt Lifts and have even developed my own technique that has attracted worldwide attention. This technique not only reduces the amount of pressure and damage to the fat cells, which results in potentially improved survival when added to its new donor site, but also has been proven to reduce a patient’s operation time by as much as 45 minutes to an hour.

As board-certified plastic surgeons, we are constantly researching new techniques and implementing those that help increase not only a patient’s safety, but their happiness with their results. Patients that are physically and mentally sound, have small amounts of localized fat, and aren’t seeing toned results, despite eating properly and staying active, make good candidates for power-assisted liposuction. The best way my patients can keep their svelte look after their liposuction procedure is to keep this reminder in mind: once I remove the fat cells, they’re gone forever – but that doesn’t mean fat cells can’t accumulate in other surrounding areas if you experience significant weight gain. Liposuction is not a weight-loss solution and requires your active participation in leading a health and wellness-conscious lifestyle if you want to get the most out of your liposuction results.

Surgical and Nonsurgical Fat Reduction

Atlanta Sculpsure Results (2)When Laser Lights Cosmetic Laser Center was added to the Southern Plastic Surgery practice, we had big dreams for it. We wanted our Atlanta area patients to have access to both nonsurgical and surgical plastic surgery and skincare services. Technology continues to impress as it gets more effective and readily available to treat people with a wide range of skin tones, types, and conditions. For decades, liposuction was the only way patients could target and remove fat cells from a specific area of the body, but patients now want noninvasive options to reduce stubborn fat without the downtime associated with plastic surgery. Even cosmetic injectables, like Kybella™ fat reduction for the double chin, have given patients even more fat reduction options than they’ve had access to in previous years. Depending on your specific preferences, you can now eliminate stubborn pockets of fat from many parts of the body with two different methods: surgical and nonsurgical fat reduction procedures.

Atlanta Sculpsure Results (2)Surgical fat reduction with liposuction (performed at Southern Plastic Surgery):

Despite the increase in nonsurgical fat removal technology, liposuction remains one of the top 5 procedures performed each year by board-certified plastic surgeons. With the American Society of Plastic Surgeons recording 222,051 procedures in 2015, and a 5% increase from 2014, liposuction is a well sought-after body contouring procedure. What liposuction isn’t?  A solution for weight loss. Patients who have small pockets of localized fat (think pockets of fat on the face, abdomen, thighs, buttocks, hips, and love handles) that don’t seem to diminish with even the most routine diet and exercise regimen, make ideal candidates for liposuction.

There are several different liposuction techniques that can help get rid of the fat but at the very core, fat cells are removed using a tiny tube, called a cannula. The cannula helps to target fat deposits and remove them from the treatment area by way of a suction-like method. Patients are typically able to go back to work after a few days to one week of recovery and the results are long-lasting (meaning fat removal is permanent as long as you stay on top of your dieting and exercising).

Nonsurgical fat reduction with SculpSure™ (Performed at Laser Lights):

SculpSure™ nonsurgical fat reduction system puts outdated systems to shame in many ways – most notably because it provides better results in less time and at a fraction of the cost of similar procedures. As the newest fat reduction system, SculpSure™ uses four flat plates to send controlled heat deep below the skin to specifically target layers of fat. What’s great about these plates are that they can be customized to treat larger areas or multiple areas simultaneously; it will just depend on the area/s you choose to have treated.

Possible treatment areas are similar to liposuction and include love handles, thighs, and abdomen. Treatment sessions last about 25 minutes and patients are able to comfortably enjoy their treatment and take advantage of quiet time to rest, do some light reading, spend time on their cell phones, or take a quick nap; once treatments are over, they’re able to return to business as usual. SculpSure™ results are gradual over several weeks as the body naturally eliminates the targeted fat cells and while some patients are happy with their results from a single treatment, others may decide to have multiple sessions for maximum fat reduction results.

Theoretically, with both of these procedures, once the fat cells are gone, the bulge is gone. That being said, the best way to make sure the fat cells don’t re-accumulate or find a new area to gather is to maintain your weight. If you aren’t one who is keen on diet and exercise, there are plenty of ways to stay active around the house and outdoors (especially with the weather warming up and the beltline and other Atlanta trails expanding). The less sedentary your life, the better you’ll help your results continue to be long-lasting. If you’re interested in learning more about the types of surgical and nonsurgical fat reduction procedures at Southern Plastic Surgery and Laser Lights, feel free to contact either office for details.