Looking Your Best For The Holidays

As the holiday season fast approaches many of us think about our personal appearance, after all there are many parties and social functions to attend during a four to five week period.

If one has been thinking about a little help from a plastic surgeon, time is running out. However with today’s less invasive refined techniques and significantly faster recovery, the possibilities of what one can have done have expanded. Of course there is individual variability in bruising, swelling and final healing but it is possible to make some generalizations for the most common procedures.

Facelifts today require ten days to two weeks to attend a social function and three weeks to return to full athletic activity. Short incision facelifts look very good in seven to ten days. Today’s facelift procedures are technically sophisticated and highly individualized for the particular patient. Repositioning the underlying foundation rather than just the skin is the key to a refreshed more youthful but not operated look. Most patients in their 40’s and early 50’s do not need volume added in their face but volume repositioning of the sagging tissues. Some individuals may lose facial fat as they get older and benefit from fat grafting or a filler substance very judiciously placed.

A forehead or brow lift to reposition the eyebrows and help remove heaviness off the upper eyelids will take five to seven days before one is ready for the office party. Having one’s eyelids refreshed can take years off your appearance and is about the same recovery time regardless if one is having the upper lids, lower eyelids or both done.

Nasal surgery or Rhinoplasty is a procedure frequently done over the Thanksgiving and winter holidays. A patient can be back at work/school in a week depending on what is done and the individual’s bruising. Patients can also be ready to go in a week after procedures such as liposuction of the neck and jaw line and chin implants, with the help of a turtleneck!

Breast augmentation can be performed today and one is out tomorrow. The incision and swelling will be hidden in one’s party clothes although you may have significant discomfort if you try to dance the night away too soon. Your surgeon will demand that you limit your vigorous physical activities for two to three weeks. A breast reduction has similar limitations but they are usually extended to four or five weeks.

Liposuction of small to moderate amounts of fat from the stomach, love handles, sides the thighs (saddle bags) inner thighs and arms can be performed one day and have you out the next. You will likely be bruised but sore but your party clothes will not give away your secret. Whether you have traditional liposuction, laser lipo or some other marketing label lipo, your course is likely to be similar. The amount of fat removed will determine your post-operative activities.

I want to make the point that all the procedures discussed above are real surgical procedures. Bruising and swelling varies from person to person. Factors such as one’s general health, medications, anatomy and the extent of surgery required to accomplish the desired result influence recovery time. The incidence of infection or excessive bleeding is very low with these procedures but one must know that just as with any other surgery there is a possibility of either.

So what can you do to enhance your appearance if you just don’t need any of the procedures discussed above? Injectables! Injectables are in three categories: (1) a muscle-paralyzing agent, botulism toxin (Botox®,) (2) filler substance such as hyaluronic acid (Juvederm®, Restylane® and Perlane®), calcium hydroxlapatite (Radiesse®), polymethyl methacrylate (Artefil®) and poly-L-lactic acid (Sculptra®) (3) Fat.

If you only have a few days before your party, Botox®, in my opinion is less risky in terms of having the potential of “looking like you have had something done.” Botox® can reduce frown lines between the eyes and crow’s feet as the sides of the eyes, slightly pick up the corners of the eyebrows or the corners of the mouth and reduce forehead lines. Too much Botox® makes facial expression distorted or non-existent. It takes one to two days to see the beginning effect and it is most effective after seven to ten days. Botox® usually lasts two to four months.

All of the filler substances and fat are a little more risky if you are down to the last five to seven days before your special event. Why? There is the risk of swelling, lumps, and bumps and bruises. Fillers and fat require time to settle down just like the surgical procedures. Fillers and fat can be used in the lower eyelids, Nasolabial folds (fold from corner of nose down to mouth), the labio-mandibular fold (fold from corner of mouth to jaw line), lines around the mouth, in front of the jowls, on the cheekbone area and to enhance the lips.

One must be cautioned against having large volumes of fillers and fat and too frequent injections, as permanent lumps, bumps, cysts, skin discoloration and changes in facial shape are all possible. Just as with surgery, expert judgment and skills are required to administer these materials. My best advice is to always seek out a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Happy Holidays

 Sherrell J. Aston MD F.A.C.S

Published in Celeb Life Magazine