With poplar TV shows such as “Botched” and the old favorite NipTuck, plastic surgeons are seen as the perfect specimen of looks, wealth and a fabulously crafted and curated lifestyle. They’re impeccably dressed, have gregarious personalities and their significant others are the epitome of perfection. Is there more to the story? Are there practice secrets that are kept more confidential than the facelift of a 50-year-old socialite? Dr. Stanley Poulos, a San Francisco Bay area board certified plastic surgeon gets real on secrets many plastic surgeons prefer to keep under wraps.
1) Sometimes you will have more than just “a little discomfort” managed with some light dosage of pain medication.
Everyone has a different pain threshold and post op bruising and swelling vary so certain procedures will take longer to recover from. Abdominoplasty, body lifts, and combination surgeries like “mommy makeover” are just a few examples of procedures where recovery may be extended.
Many people who have had procedures can think of a time a few days post op where they wanted to curse their surgeon or ask “why in the world did I do this?”
Just because it’s an elective aesthetic surgery doesn’t make it any less of an operation. Dr. Poulos explains that there are two very important things you want to get clear on, the actual level of pain and recovery time. Recovery time to return to ranching or running marathons may be a lot different than being able to drive or get out. He advises speaking to a few friends or references who had the same procedure. Just remember that like childbirth as time goes by the experience may seem easier than it was.
“You need to know so you can make necessary arrangements with work and childcare or elder care if need be. Some procedures can take at least a week or two before resuming normal activity so the more realistic the expectations the better,” adds Poulos.
2) There may be more than just “minimal scarring.”
“Scarring has nothing to do with the surgeon’s skill and everything to do with the patient’s genetics,” clarifies Dr. Poulos. He goes on to explain that a highly skilled plastic surgeon can do the same exact procedure with closure on two different people. One will have minimal scarring while the other will not.” People with darker complexions should consider this before deciding to do a procedure and certainly consult with your doctor’s team who can recommend remedies that help with scarring.
3) Cellulite removal isn’t just easily “zapped away” with a laser.
Today there are many options available, each claiming to treat cellulite effectively. Some are a bit more invasive. Cellulaze for example is a highly promoted actual surgical procedure using an invasive laser that must be threaded under the skin. “Even though this is considered minimally invasive, it’s not an easy zap. Even with improvement the results often will not meet expectations so be realistic.
4) There’s an expiration date on results due to the aging process.
We see celebrities who desperately battle mother nature. Aging is inevitable. The average “shelf life” of a facelift is about 10 years. “A facelift is a large financial investment along with significant recovery time. The better the skin elasticity the closer to a decade you’ll get. Odds are even better you’ll have a more enduring result if you don’t smoke or sun-worship,” says Dr. Poulos. He goes on to say that he believes it’s really important to lay out the real expectations given skin texture and volume. Some people may notice the lower quadrant of their faces aging just a few years post facelift. While a person will still look youthful post facelift, it’s not going to prevent aging. As they say “ageing is not for sissies but it sure beats the alternative.”
Dr. Stanley Poulos is a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon and Co-Founder with Yngvar Hvistendahl, M.D of Plastic Surgery Specialists recognized as one of the premier aesthetic surgery clinics in Northern California, with over 30-years’ experience in aesthetic procedures, and mastery of facial and body symmetry.