The landscape of medical innovations changes dramatically over time. Each year sees some procedures fall away as new tools and techniques enter the market. Cosmetic surgery is one area in which such changes are constant.
In 2012, “it’s all about removing fat from where you don’t want it and putting it where you do,” says Dr. Samer Cabbabe, a plastic surgeon at St. Louis Plastic Surgery Consultants. He is performing more procedures in which fat is removed from the belly or thighs, purified and then injected into the face, breasts or other areas where additional volume is desired. The whole process is completed during a single surgery, saving the stress and risk of multiple procedures.
Cabbabe says that the equipment used for such procedures has improved, and therefore results are more consistent and satisfying. “I see fewer people going with fillers because of the minimally invasive techniques that I’m using,” he says. “Like the new cheek lifts, for instance. Why do you need a $1,000 filler when you can have a cheek lift done that corrects the problem instead of camouflaging it?”
However, dermal fillers continue to be a popular treatment for many cosmetic patients. Dr. Brock Ridenour, a facial plastic surgeon at Ridenour Plastic Surgery, says that fillers are not losing popularity in his practice. “Patients have been educated about fat and bone loss with age and the role of volume in facial rejuvenation. They also are increasingly interested in facelift techniques that are more natural and allow fast and predictable healing,” he says.
The patient population also is shifting, he notes. “Patients are having surgical procedures, such as facelifts, at an earlier age when the tissues are elastic and the results are longer lasting. However, we also are seeing a lot of senior patients who want to be ‘good-looking grandparents.’ The age range from our youngest to our oldest patients is getting wider.”
Some elective surgeries performed on the face don’t change the patient’s appearance but dramatically change the way things appear to the patient. Implantable corrective lenses are becoming more widely used to eliminate nearsightedness, says Dr. Brian Lojka of Clarkson Eyecare.
“LASIK and PRK, which are laser procedures, have been on the decline for numerous reasons, but one of them is that people who could have the procedure have had the procedure, and we’re left with these extremely nearsighted folks or extremely farsighted folks who historically were not laser candidates,” he says. Implantable lenses also offer a solution to many people who were not able to have laser surgery due to the thickness or shape of the cornea.
Lojka also notes that cataracts are being treated sooner rather than later with the increased use of IntraLase FS laser technology, an extremely precise and safe method for creating the flap in the cornea through which a new lens is implanted.
Regardless of the type of surgery you may consider, Cabbabe says that with the increased number of promised results on the market, “I would caution people: Don’t believe the hype.” He notes that he sometimes corrects complications caused by devices that have little evidence of long-term success. “If it’s too good to believe, don’t believe it.”