Those uncertain souls who are seriously contemplating plastic surgery should take heed of life’s fundamental truths: that one should be contented with the physical structure that nature has bestowed upon them. As proven numerous times in the past, many attempts at tampering with nature’s handiwork invariably results in disaster or results not quite meeting their expectations. – Annonymous
HOW often have we heard individuals say they abhor plastic surgery? Very often, I’m sure. But if there’s so much contempt in the air, why does the crowd continue to stream into these clinics?
Numerous requests to interview plastic surgeons constantly met with the routine response of, “the doctor’s operating”. Which might as well have meant that business is booming.
Flourishing or not, there are some of us who aren’t frightened by the prospects of looking like a disaster like Michael Jackson, whom the British media has labelled, “Phantom of the Pop World”. So, if it’s a new look you want for the New Year, the plastic surgeon has a generous wish list that covers the body from the head to the hips.
Eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty, is usually a quick-fix surgery that involves removing excess fat, skin and muscles from the upper or lower eyelids. The procedure is to create a second crease so that the eyes look more pronounced. Similarly, the removal of excess fat and skin from the lower eyelids are performed to eliminate puffy eyes.
Contrary to popular belief, eyelid surgery doesn’t usually get rid of wrinkles, laugh lines or dark circles under your eyes.
Says consultant plastic surgeon Dr Benjamin George Jr: “Some doctors do prescribe injections like Botox for treating active wrinkles when you laugh or smile. As for passive wrinkles – wrinkles that are present without smiling – fillers such as collagen/hyaluronic acid are used to soften the lines. However, this form of treatment only buys time and is merely a temporary relief from the effects of ageing. A better option for sagging facial skin would be to do a facelift.”
A facelift is self-explanatory. Facial skin is lifted from its original state and pulled taut for a more youthful appearance. It is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of spare, sagging skin.
Generally performed under local or general anaesthesia, the three-hour long operation requires the surgeon to make an incision following the contours of the face. Starting just above the hairline and moving towards the ear and lower scalp, excess skin is removed and underlying muscles tightened. The facial tissues are then stitched up. Finally, a drain is inserted under the skin to remove fluid. After that, the patient’s head is bandaged to reduce skin inflammation.
“Facelifts don’t stop the ageing process. It simply resets the clock so as to give a fresh and youthful appearance even if the person is already in his/her golden years. A good candidate for a facelift is someone whose skin has begun to droop, for whom fillers would produce a poor result,” explains consultant plastic surgeon Dr Benjamin George Jr.
While the Chinese consider jumbo ears as a good thing as it invites positive feng shui to the person, the same can’t be said for others. For some, the unwanted attention can be very unsettling every time they’re out in public.
The good news is that something can be done about it and it’s called otoplasty. It is a common procedure that usually lasts between one and two hours. The surgeon removes the skin at the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. According to Dr George Jr, as the cartilage is scored, it will automatically spring backwards to the head.
“Pinning back the prominent ears makes the appearance more visually pleasing. It’s good to start surgery at an early age so that the young ones don’t have to endure cruel jokes and being made fun of by their peers.
“Girls who are very self-conscious about their ears will usually avoid swimming or tying their hair up as this will expose their protruding ears. After the surgery, many parents will say that their child is transformed!”
Also called rhinoplasty, this procedure manipulates the structure of the nose to improve nasal shapes. Typically, these may involve removing a nasal hump, raising the nose bridge, narrowing or shortening the nose, or reducing flaring nostrils.
For example, the surgeon first realigns the nasal anatomy through incisions inside the nostrils. After that an implant called silatic, a medical grade silicone in solid form, is inserted into the nasal framework according to the desired contours.
Abdominoplasty, or more commonly known as a “tummy tuck”, used to be a routine way of removing fat from the middle and lower abdomen. It is a major surgical method that also helps to tighten stretch marks due to multiple pregnancies.
Here, muscles of the abdominal wall are reconstructed to reduce the appearance of hanging skin. However, permanent scars are inevitable.
According to consultant plastic surgeon Dr Lal Kumar, about 70% of body contouring is done via liposuction. While a tummy tuck takes out whole sections of skin, liposuction merely removes excess fat from specific areas such as the lower and upper abdomen, flanks, thighs, hip, knees, upper arms, and so on.
“Tubes are placed under the skin and act like vacuums to suck out the fat. The amount of fat to be removed depends on the person’s size. For someone who weighs 45kg, it’s safe to remove 3 litres of fat in one session. Someone who is 80kg normally requires three or four sessions, and each time, about 4.5 litres of fat can be taken out.
“Technically, we are reducing the fat cell population in that area. This is different from body wrapping/bandaging as advertised by beauty centres. What they’re doing is merely dehydrating the fat cells. At the end of the day, the fat cells are still there.”
Believed to be the commonest major plastic surgery in Malaysia and the world, liposuction usually lasts about one to two hours and is done under general anaesthesia.
“Statistically, liposuction is one of the safest procedures, and to the patient and surgeon, one of the most gratifying because you can see the results straight away,” says Dr Kumar.
The size and shape of breasts have long been the basis of feelings of inadequacy or envy in women. But whatever the cup size, plastic surgeons have the skills to tighten sagging breasts, enlarging or reducing bosom profile.
Says Dr George Jr: “In breast augmentation, breast implants made of either silicone gel or saline is used to increase breast size. As for the risks of silicone from breast implants leaking into the blood stream, research has shown that the amount of silicone that can technically leak into the tissues is small. Ironically, you could inhale and ingest more silicone from the environment than a leak in a breast implant.”
Many women whose breasts reduce in volume following pregnancy go for breast jobs simply to please their husbands . However, says Dr George Jr, the ultimate benefactor is the woman herself, adding that with the physical changes comes a tremendous psychological boost.
For breasts that are sagging but have a reasonable volume of tissue, the skin can be tightened by a procedure called mastopexy. The only drawback is the visible scars.
For breasts that are large in proportion to body size, breast reduction can be performed to produce an aesthetic result. He explains that, while scarring is unavoidable, end results outweigh problems like backaches, shoulder strain and embarrassment in public.
He adds that for those with retracted nipples or wide areolas, it is possible to evert the nipple and reduce the size of the areola.
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