Dr. Valerie Ablaza: Plastic Surgery Myths

Misconception: Plastic surgery is only for wealthy women with plenty of time on their hands.

Truth: Oh, how times have changed! Women and men of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, professions and income levels are interested in taking advantage of the new techniques and recent advances in cosmetic surgery, even in this economic environment. As it turns out, 60 percent of the people having cosmetic medical procedures come from households with a combined income of just $30,000-$90,000. According to recent statistics compiled by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, some other surprising trends include that nearly one third of people having cosmetic surgery procedures or treatments are under forty years of age, 10 percent are men and one third are non-Caucasian.

Misconception: Eyelid lifts give you a surprised look

Truth: The “surprised” look usually refers to the eyebrows being at a higher position. Eyelid lifts, performed alone, do not and cannot change eyebrow position. However, a brow lift is sometimes performed at the same time as an eyelid lift when the person also has low eyebrows, which would explain the resulting change in eyebrow position. Especially right after brow lift surgery, the eyebrows may seem to be too high, but this slight over-correction takes into account some of the tissue “relaxation” that may occur in the early recovery period.

Misconception: A breast lift changes breast size

Truth: A breast lift, or mastopexy, only changes the shape and positioning of the breasts on the chest wall; it does not change breast size. Although the volume of the breasts remains the same after a lift, the breasts are elevated, the nipples may be repositioned, and there is a tightening of the skin, which gives the breasts a more youthful look. A breast lift can be performed simultaneously with placement of a small implant if an increase in breast size is desired.

Misconception: Fat removed with liposuction comes back in a different place

Truth: “New fat” from weight gain following liposuction does not end up in all areas except where fat was removed and, in fact, it doesn’t “go” anywhere specific. Fat cells don’t travel at all. Humans are born with a fixed number of fat cells that enlarge with weight gain and shrink with weight loss. Since fat cells are permanently removed with liposuction, subsequent weight gain causes uniform enlargement of the existing fat cells in the newly modified proportions. New fat cells are produced only in rare cases of extreme obesity.
Misconception: Exercise after weight loss and pregnancies can help tighten skin

Truth: You can’t exercise skin! Regular weight lifting definitely builds muscle mass and can improve body contours, while aerobic activity burns calories, which then leads to weight loss. Unfortunately there are no activities that can be done in the gym to cause skin shrinkage or tightening to any significant degree. There is also no cream, lotion, or skin surface treatment that tightens skin satisfactorily. The only way to tighten loose skin, and in turn improve contours, is to surgically remove excess skin.

Dr. Valerie Ablaza, a partner and Corporate Vice President of The Plastic Surgery Group in Montclair, was recently inducted as president of the New Jersey Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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