Below are the questions and answers for last month’s Health Smart Segments presented on KTVB. Stop by our Video and Media page to see the videos and look for new videos every week.
What is fat grafting and how does it differ from stem cell grafting?
Transfer of fat from one body area to another. Adult stem cells make up a small portion and may account for increased graft survival. Stem cell grafting implies injected concentrated Stem cells, but is considered experimental. Those offering it outside of a University trial are either not really doing it or are using unproven and possibly ineffective or even dangerous methods.
What applications are there?
Breast augmentation and post mastectomy reconstruction, facial rejuvenation and reconstruction, body contour improvement (buttocks augmentation or liposuction defects).
How is it done?
Fat is gently liposuctioned from the abdomen, flanks, or thighs; separated by gravity or centrifuge, and reinjected into the breast, face, or body; not everyone is a candidate, there are variable take rates to redo injections should be expected, and for breast augmentation is still controversial.
EARLY FACIAL AGING
A study in the January issue of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons suggested that patients who had facelifts at a younger age had better results and satisfaction rates. In recent years, however, we have heard so much about using less invasive methods such as Botox, fillers, and lasers for facial aging. How does the patient who looks in the mirror and sees early signs of aging make sense of all the confusing information out there?
Facial aging, like anything else, is a diagnosis. Early signs of aging include skin quality changes, volume loss, and drooping tissue. To get a coordinated treatment plan, see a plastic surgeon.
What would a typical plan for a patient with early aging sound like?
The first step is minimizing sun exposure and ceasing smoking if you are a smoker. Next is life long skin care. Dermatologists and Plastic surgeons can recommend medical grade products to optimally treat skin problems such as loss of elasticity and pigment changes. I particularly like vitamin c, hydroquinone, and sun screen products. Surface treatments like microdermabrasion are also helpful.
Okay, what if the patient is willing to be a little more aggressive?
That is when I would discuss injectables. Botox is good for easing wrinkle lines around the forehead, eyes, and mouth. Injectable fillers like Juvederm and Restylane are good for filling nasolabial hollows and marionette line. Injectables can work well for patients in their 30’s, 40’s and sometimes even 50’s, but may be overused by practitioners who cannot offer surgical options. All these treatments do not cost as much as surgery and do not have the same risks, but do not have the long lasting and potentially dramatic results.
What about the early aging patient who is willing to spend more and take more risk?
That is the debate that the article is addressing. Medical lasers are well proven to help with hair reduction and skin pigment problems, but there is no magic bullet yet that reliably tightens skin and the deeper structures. Laser and other advanced technologies have been touted to be great ways to selectively heat and shrink aged skin, but have overall disappointing results. These treatments are expensive, may or may not have the promised effect, and that effect may not be long lasting. I tell patients that if they are not ready for a surgery, have several thousand dollars burning a hole in their pocket, and would accept the risk of little to no improvement, the newer tightening treatments are reasonable to try.
What about this recent study which suggests that if a patient does choose surgery for early aging, he or she may have better results than waiting later.
The study authors think that patients with early indications for surgery may have higher quality tissue for repair and therefore have better and more reliable long term results than using non invasive methods early and doing surgery later. The surgery studied, however, is not a minimal approach. The SMAS layer of the face was tightened and this should only be done by an well trained plastic surgeon. Younger patient who have signs of aging should therefore feel more confident in choosing surgery as long as they can accept the risks and costs as well as possible secondary surgery when they are older.
ADOLESCENT PLASTIC SURGERY
A paper in the January issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery examines cosmetic surgery in the adolescent patient. Dr. Wigod, tell us how common is adolescent cosmetic surgery?
Overall, adolescents make up 2% of cosmetic surgery patients. I would say that I see about that percentage here in Boise. Approximately 1/3 of those surgeries were for prominent ears (otoplasty), 1/4 for nose surgery (rhinoplasty), 1/8 for breast reduction, and 1/8 for breast augmentation.
How are these patients different than adult ones?
We have to consider both anatomic and emotional maturity when evaluating younger patients for surgery. Anatomic maturity can vary greatly, but ears are about 80% formed by 7 or 8, noses by 13 to 16, and breasts by 16 years old.
What about emotional maturity?
The most important qualification is emotional maturity. Body image is the subjective perception of the body as it is seen through the mind’s eye. It is considered reasonably well formed in teenagers such that it can respond favorably to a surgery. The request for surgery must originate from the patient and reflect internal motivation – “I will feel more confident” or “I will be happier with my photos” as opposed to “I will be more romantically appealing” or “people will like me more and tease me less.”
So, when is the right time for an adolescent to have surgery?
Assuming anatomic and emotional maturity, breast and nose surgery is reasonably done around 16 years old. Breast reductions, both female and male, can really improve an adolescent’s quality of life. Breast augmentations, however, are little different. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons recommends that patients be at least 18 years old, unless it is to treat a birth deformity. Rhinoplasty might be timed over a long break so that the changes have healed and are less easily noticed – it’s hard to hide your face.
SILICONE GEL BREAST IMPLANT SAFEFY
Recently, silicone gel implants have been back in the news. French implant maker PIP was shut down amid accusations of using cheaper industrial grade silicone in there implants and having rupture rate double the industry average. Dr. Wigod, how does this news affect women in the United States?
American women have nothing to fear in this instance. About 20% of PIP implants were used in France and the rest were exported to Britain, Spain, and Latin America. None were sold in the United States, thanks to more stringent testing requirements of the FDA.
What implants are available in this country and are they safe?
There are only two companies approved for silicone implant manufacture, Allergan and Mentor. Silicone was taken off the market in 1992 because its safety profile was never established. After careful scientific study, silicone was proven to be unrelated to autoimmune disorders as well as a various other illnesses. These two companies then formulated new products that caused fewer local healing problems and had easier clean up if they did rupture.
How are the new implants different?
New implants have been released since 2006. They are less liquid, or more cohesive, so they hold together better, but sill feel soft. In fact, if you cut one in half, it does not go anywhere. The FDA use to recommend that patients have an MRI every 2 years to detect leaks, but that was rescinded, so I have been more likely to recommend silicone because it feels better and ripples less than saline.
SURGERY FOR MORBID OBESITY
About one third of U.S. adults are considered obese. Idaho’s obesity rate ranks a relatively good 32nd in the nation, but still one quarter of our population significantly overweight. Dr. Wigod, how do doctors determine who is obese and how does it impact their health?
In medicine, we like measurements and clear definitions. Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a calculation of weight divided by height squared. So the heavier you are, the higher your BMI. You can find BMI calculators on the internet. BMI greater than 25 is considered overweight and greater than 30 is considered obese. Obesity is associated with increased rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers, and increased surgical complications, so it is a real public health problem.
Most of us think of diet and exercise to decrease our weight. How can surgery be helpful?
When people reach a BMI greater than 40, they are classified as being morbidly obese. They are at least 100 pounds over their ideal body weight and often suffer from arthritis, sleep apnea, heart burn, hypertension, and even heart and lung failure. In these patients, traditional medical weight loss approaches are frequently unsuccessful. Operations on the stomach and bowels created and performed by general surgeons may effectively assist with significant weight loss. Once the weight is lost, then Plastic Surgery is done to remove excess skin if necessary.
What operations are available and will insurance cover their cost?
One approach is the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass. The stomach is shrunk by surgically stapling it off and drainage from the rest of the stomach is diverted downstream. This operation offers effective and rapid weight loss, but may have complication like bowel leakage, obstruction, and malnutrition. Another operation is Laparoscopic Adjustable Grastric Banding, or Lap-Band. In this approach, an externally adjustable synthetic band is placed around the entrance to the stomach to reduce its effective capacity. No re-routing of the intestines is required, but the procedure still has problems and weight loss may not be as effective. It is a complicated debate that should be presented by a massive weight loss general surgeon during an individual consultation. Both St. Alphonsus and St. Luke’s have well established surgical weight loss programs with expert surgeons. For qualified patients, insurance may cover the procedure.
Wigod Plastic Surgery – Plastic Surgery for Boise, Meridian, and the greater Southeastern Idaho Region