Massaging After Facelift

Facial massage is a longstanding and proven method to aide in the healing process after facelift surgery. Surgeons instruct their post-operative patients to gently massage the facial skin with two goals in mind: smoothing of subcutaneous lumps, bumps and thickness from early swelling. Second, massaging away from incisions, especially around the eyes, is used as a “lymphatic drainage procedure” to decrease lymphatic stasis when incisions block the normal direction of lymphatic drainage.

It is also important for patients to massage the incisions around the ear when they are in the phase of scar deposition as the incisions begin to thicken at about 6 weeks. Massage as a form of touching helps during the first 6 months when many patients complain of hypersensitivity and shooting pains due to the normal process of nerve regeneration. Prolonged numbness can be disconcerting to some; massaging helps the psyche integrate the numb areas back into the normal body sensations so that the numb areas cease to feel separate from the remainder of the face.

Massage and wound care also engage the patient in their own recovery from surgery, giving them tasks that will make them take ownership of their recovery.

For the last 10 years, we have been doing extensive fat grafting with facelift procedures to address the effacement or flattening that occurs with all skin tightening procedures, especially in the cheek area. We also offer fat grafting in the lips, nasolabial and peri-oral region as there is very little that a standard facelift does to improve the peri-oral loss of fat with subsequent wrinkling. Attempting to tighten the cheeks enough to remove or affect the deepening nasolabial folds will not last and usually distorts the face in ways that are hard to camouflage. It should be an aphorism that you cannot lift the corner of the mouth by pulling of the lower face skin.

For the first 2 weeks post-operatively, the patient is asked NOT to massage at all so as not to affect the fat grafts. Usually, we extend the “no massage” time to 6 weeks unless a reason to massage the fat grafts arises—this is a rare occurrence. Massaging the fat grafts in the face prematurely will cause the grafts to dissolve away. It is also important to note that massaging the face while bruising is still present can cause the face to bruise and swell more.

We use standard marking pens to map the areas for fat grafting. Try as we may, it is difficult to remove these marks even with alcohol without having to rub hard enough to move the fat grafts once accurately injected. By the time that we start our staged suture removal, the marks are easier to remove with much less disruption of the fat grafts. Under no circumstances do we tell the patients to try and remove the markings. Patients are also instructed NOT to scrub their faces when washing, but gently pat the face to clean. Washing the face can mimic the massage-like pressure that we are trying to avoid during the healing process.

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Endotracheal General Anesthesia & Facelift Surgery

Plastic surgeons have long known facelift surgery performed under general anesthesia requires a longer recovery due to the side effects from the general anesthesia administered during surgery. Addressing post-surgical facelift swelling has always been an important factor to most facelift surgeons. However, facelift surgeons have never figured out how to reduce it when the procedure is performed under general anesthesia. The face swells in recovery when the patient’s blood pressure goes up.

facelift swelling

Alabama facelift surgeon Dr. Paul Howard is board certified and is one of the top facelift surgeons of the South. Dr. Howard also offers mini face lift, neck lift, eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty, brow lift, cheek augmentation, ear pinning surgery, and fat grafting to the face. Schedule your facelift consultation with Dr. Howard today 205-871-3361.

General anesthesia is a state of reversible coma induced by intravenous drugs and inhalation anesthetic agents. The effects of the drugs and inhalation agents cause the entire body to become insensate, cannot feel pain, and have both amnesia and what is called, retrograde amnesia, so that the patient has no recollection of the surgical events or the preceding days in some instances.

While under the effects of the anesthetic drugs, the CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) under the supervision of the MD Anesthesiologist, must control all bodily functions, mainly breathing and oxygenation, blood pressure and patient awareness. About one in twenty thousand patients experience awareness and pain even while under the effect of the anesthetic agents.

Very few patients die under general anesthesia (one in three hundred thousand). They are usually the highest risk patients who are ill and at the extreme of the age groups: either very young or very old. People “allergic” to an anesthetic agent or have a congenital disease that effects the metabolism of certain drugs is even rarer yet. Malignant Hyperthermia Syndrome is a reaction to certain anesthetic agents and is also very rare.

The anesthetic agents have improved incrementally over the last thirty years but have not improved the incidence of minor complications such as memory impairment (post-operative delirium), prolonged sleepiness, inability to urinate, sore throat, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting. Another complication which could be considered minor is swelling after head and neck surgical procedures, and sometimes whole-body edema.

Swelling is considered more of an expected sequella than a complication because it happens uniformly, especially in patients over fifty and those with high blood pressure.

The practice of administering anesthesia has changed dramatically over the last three decades. It used to be the convention, and still is in hospitals, for the MD Anesthesiologist to be present for the induction of anesthesia, including the securing of the airway, and for the emergence from and reversal of the anesthetic agents. It was assumed that these are the most dangerous parts of the “anesthetic flight”: likened to the take-off and landing of an airplane.

Now the take-off and landing must be safer as many office operating facilities do not require the presence of an MDA for general anesthetic procedures. This is true for virtually all the office-based operating facilities that provide cosmetic plastic surgery delivered under general anesthesia.

Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners and the Alabama State Board of Health-Division of Licensure and Certification require registration with the state and the practice of general anesthesia to be performed by competent licensed personnel working under a physician certified and licensed in the State of Alabama. There is no actual requirement for a CRNA or an MDA to preside over general office-based surgical anesthesia.

Fifteen years ago, unhappy with the way general anesthesia was being delivered without the presence of an anesthesiologist, we began working on the techniques used today in our practice to perform facial plastic surgery under specialized local anesthesia with oral sedation.

Two things became clear immediately: The patients were happier not suffering from the effects of general anesthesia and they had very little facial swelling and bruising causing their recovery to be much shorter and more comfortable. A second and equally important improvement was that the procedures are done in the office without the high OR and anesthesia fees charged for general anesthesia.

Local anesthesia is least likely to cause side effects. Local anesthesia with sedation requires much less of the strong medicines that shock the system and therefore is always preferred for older patients who may take a number of medicines that would interact with general anesthetic agents and who would take longer to emerge from general anesthesia sometimes requiring professional care for a day or two after surgery.

Younger patients, who usually have jobs and family commitments, simply prefer the cost and much shorter down times for return to normal activities.

Some discerning shoppers ask what kind of facelift can be done under local anesthesia, usually having been told only minor or skin-only facelifts can be done under local. The fact is that I do the same facelift I used to do when I used general anesthesia. In fact, the facelift I now do under local is much more intricate and modern than before as shown in our facelift gallery of photos at Continue reading

Lifestyle Lift® FAQS & Fiction by Paul Howard, MD

Facelift Scar Comparison

Facelift Scar Comparison

How is the LSL better than other Facelifts?

The LSL is not a breakthrough procedure nor are any of the LSL techniques new in any way.  THE LSL is first and foremost a marketing company that hires physicians to do a version of the LSL.  In fact, their surgeons are not even required to do the LSL procedure.

How is the LSL different than other procedures?

The LSL is a version of the short-scar facelift procedure that was first described by others.  Included in the procedure is a so called SMAS plication which has been around for 20+ years and is one of many ways to tighten the deeper layers of the face.  The only possible advance the LSL offers is that it is performed under local anesthesia which has been available since the 1920’s.

Is the Lifestyle Lift® Cheaper?

The cost of the LSL procedure is different depending on where in the country one lives.  The fact is that the actual cost of the LSL is roughly equivalent to what most plastic surgeons charge especially when you consider the “fine print” procedures that are required on almost all patients.

Is there a difference in recovery from the LSL?

The rapidity of recovery depends more on the individual surgeon than the exact procedure performed.  Patient selection is probably the most important adjunct in recovery time and LSL patient selection is initially done by “consultationists” without even a medical degree.

Will I Bruise More?

One of the ways a plastic surgeon can decrease bruising is due to the technique chosen and in many cases whether or not the surgeon uses drains expeditiously. Part of the LSL marketing scheme brags about not using drains as if not using drains when indicated is somehow better.

Are the LSL Scars Better?

The short facelift scar pattern is pretty much the same for everyone.  The execution of the scar varies from surgeon to surgeon, but the scars don’t seem to do as well nor are they properly positioned in many of the LSL procedures (my personal experience). It is also easier to obtain good scarring with frequent follow-up and in-depth patient instruction which is not typical in practices that are volume driven like the LSL.

What is the Most Important Decision when Choosing a Facelift?

Most people believe that the most important aspect of achieving good results in facelift surgery is the choice of SURGEON and not the procedure or any number of other considerations.  It is interesting that the one thing that the LSL marketing scheme minimizes is the surgeon; such that the surgeon is the last person one meets in the process.  The consultationists and the people who collect the money seem much more important and meet the prospective patient well before the surgeon is chosen for you.

Read more about top facelift surgeon Dr. Paul Howard Birmingham, Alabama.

Call today to schedule your Facelift Consultation with Dr. Paul Howard

205-877-PAUL

The Lifestyle Lift™ vs. The Howard Lift by Paul S. Howard, MD

Facelift Alabama

Plastic Surgeon Birmingham Alabama

The Lifestyle Lift™ (or LSL) continues to generate publicity, both good and bad, in the beauty business universe.  Ongoing lawsuits in the State of Florida brought by attorney general Pam Bondi as well as dueling articles in plastic surgery practice magazines explaining and dismissing the litigious nature of the LSL Company keep the spotlight on this controversial marketing company.  It is not known, the malpractice history of the LSL doctors, yet their history of suing and being sued regarding their trademarked name and aggressive marketing practices is well documented in public forums.  Let me be absolutely clear, LSL is not a facelift nor any kind or combination of surgical procedures.  Once again, the LSL is not a facelift.  The precise nature of the company is a little vague but we do know that it is a marketing juggernaut flooding the TV waves, radio and more recently the internet with a multi-million ($15 million or so) dollar ad campaign featuring the once popular Debbie Boone, daughter of teen idol Pat Boone of white-buckskin-shoe fame.

When one analyzes this expansive company it is easy to understand why there is a cottage industry of cases (patients) searching for plastic surgeons to re-do or correct the surgeries done under the auspices of this marketing company.  The LSL brand is metastasizing to every possible market as researched through their massive call bank in Troy, Michigan.  The major problem they are experiencing is the fact that they have grown rapidly, have roughly 90 doctors on the payroll nationwide, and it appears they are having one helluva time controlling the quality of their product.  Roughly 20% of their surgeons are actually board certified plastic surgeons.  As with any statistical analysis, there is a bell curve describing the quality of their surgeons.  It’s just the numbers are so large that the one’s with poor results number in the thousands every year.

The LSL marketing machine touts 3-4 facelifts a day (per doctor) and a procedure that only takes an hour to do.  When you consider that many of their surgeons are youthful, an hour facelift is improbable.  It seems that time is made-up by handling the incisions with haste.

Dr. Paul S. Howard

Regardless, Forrest Gump said it best, “Life’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna’ get.”  You can say same about the LSL.

In our efforts to separate what we do from LSL, we make a point of offering only one facelift per day performed entirely by a myself, a real board certified plastic surgeon with no consultationists, no fellows or residents involved with the personalized patient care.

As far as the facelift procedure itself, our Howard Lift has many commonalities with the LSL except it was developed from patient requests and follow-up over many years and not to satisfy a preconceived marketing plan.  Also, the Howard Lift is only the base procedure taking care of the cheeks and jawline.  Each patient receives a complete evaluation including the neck, eyelids, brow, and nose as needed.  A complete skin care evaluation with appropriate skin care including chemical peels and CO₂ laser resurfacing as indicated.  All of this is included at a cost comparable to the LSL except you know your board certified plastic surgeon and his entire staff prior to the day of surgery.  Follow-up is provided exclusively by myself and my staff so there are no covering physicians or strangers involved in your surgical care or follow-up.

For an in-depth explanation of our philosophy of practice and opinions on the surgical issues of the day, log-on to our web site www.thehowardlift.com and access our photo galleries and informative Faceliftology™ Blog.  The number one reason for unhappiness with a plastic surgical result is a lack of information and not being fully informed about your surgeon and his

Dr. Paul S. Howard is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.  To schedule a consultation with Dr. Howard to discuss your cosmetic surgery goals, please call 205-871-3361

*Faceliftology is a registered trademark, registered by Dr. Paul S. Howard, Plastic Surgeon Birmingham, Alabama.

*The LifeStyle Lift is a registered trademark, registered by Lifestyle Lift Holding, Inc. Michigan.

Who is a Candidate for the One Week Facelift? by Paul S. Howard, MD

It is axiomatic that all facelifts are different and certainly one cannot recover from all facelifts in a single week.  What I wish to describe is the optimal situation from both the patient’s point-of-view and the surgical perspective.  Choosing the right patient with application of the correct facelift procedure under optimal anesthetic conditions will usually yield the quickest recovery: one week from my perspective.

Who is the best candidate for the facelift procedure?  Ideally, the best candidates for facelift are women between 40 and 60, healthy, non-smokers, with the proper motivation and support.  More specifically our ideal patient is active and actually benefits from a return to normal activity in a week.  As with any surgical procedure, the difficulty and extent of deformity provided by the patient is important.  In the perfect world described here, our female patient has moderate aging of the cheeks with early marionette lines, somewhat deepened nasolabial folds and the presence of the “bubble” of cheek fat tissue obscuring the jawline.  Once these conditions exist, there is no amount of injecting or fillers that can camouflage or “lift” tissues to redefine the jawline.  Some skin elasticity remains as opposed to our older patients with “leather” skin, and a multitude of deep wrinkles indicated a total loss of elasticity.  Weathered skin is usually due to extensive sun exposure without sun-block, as well as environment toxins and smoking.  These older patients with skin elasticity problems are still candidates for facial rejuvenation, but the operations are more extensive and cannot be recovered in one week.  Minor aging of the neck can also be treated simultaneously and does not prolong our one week recovery.

We try to address as many skin quality problems as possible pre-operatively.  We prescribe the nightly use of a Retin-A, hydroquinone, steroid solution as well as a cleansing facial treatment pre-operatively if possible.  We frequently recommend lower blepharoplasty with our midface lift and thus recommend an eye exam prior to blepharoplasty in most cases.  Previous surgery for cataracts or glaucoma is noted as the post-operative incidence of swelling in the form of a chemosis is more likely in these patients and may take more than a week to resolve with prescription eye drops.

Optimal anesthetic conditions include the use of local anesthesia with sedation rather than general anesthesia.  The control of blood pressure within a narrow range of the pre-operative value is necessary to minimize swelling and bruising that is expected when emergence from general anesthesia is necessary.  Aspirin and NSAIDS are stopped 2 weeks pre-operatively, and Bromelein and Arnica are recommended peri-operatively.  The liberal use of ice on and around the eyes with constant head elevation, regional blocks for peri-orbital anesthesia, and minimal injections directly in the ultra-thin eyelid skin reduce the chances for injection bruising in the lids.

The most important discussion to lessen edema, bruising, and to expedite recovery within one week is the choice of the mid-facelift and the details of its performance.  Lapsing into technical jargon, our lift is a short-incision mini-lift with a multi-vector, progressive tension SMAS plication.  The combination of techniques results in an aggressive lift with a minimal of undermined skin resulting in minimal “dead space” to accumulate blood or fluid.  For this small area of undermined skin, we have further developed a system of “micro-drains” utilizing vacutainer tubes as the collection/suction mechanism.  These 21 gauge drains are effective for removing any possible fluid collections and are removed at 24 hours post-operatively.  These small drains are incorporated into 24 hour post-op compression dressing, and in most cases the patients don’t know they exist.  The light compression dressing is augmented with “rest-on foam” on the neck and adjacent to the peri-auricular incisions.  This foam is also removed at 24 hours and is replaced by an ace bandage to compress the dependent portion of the neck and to protect the ears, especially at night.  The neck compression is important to achieve our goal of one week to “street-ability.”

Incision care is of the utmost importance to achieve our goals.  Gentle cleansing using peroxide once a day with careful application of Aquafor, especially around and behind the ear where it is difficult to see and for the dissolvable lower eye-lid stitches.  If the lower led sutures are allowed to dry, they will become brittle and will not dissolve on schedule at about 5 days.  The nylon sutures about the ear and in the submental neck are removed at 5 days except for a few “key” sutures in areas of tension.  These key sutures are removed on day 7.

Lastly, a word or two on the general aspects of healing.  It should go without saying that a calm, smoke-free, supportive environment is important to have the mindset to heal uneventfully.  We request careful attention to the instructions provided and the comfort to call at any time if any uncertainty arises.  All of the medications are provided for a reason and should be taken exactly as prescribed.  We will go over all of your medications in detail with you so there are no mis-understandings regarding when to resume them.  Controlled activity beginning post-operatively day one is important.  There will be three office visits during the first week and of course these are very important.  It is probably equally important for your mental recovery to parallel your physical recovery.  Although we aim for your physical facelift recovery to be well along at one week so that you can be in public, your recovery will continue for many weeks and months to total normality.  We use serial photography to allow you to follow your recovery visually, which in most cases, helps your physical recovery and state-of-mind as well.  You will receive copies of all photos as well as the constant reminder of your pre-op condition with a set of your before photos as well.

We believe that we are all “goal oriented” people and that goals for life as well as for recovery from surgery are important.  Our goal for you is a one week recovery and we will provide you all of the tools necessary to achieve this goal.

Read more about Alabama facelift surgeon Dr. Paul Howard plastic surgeon and view facelift before and after photos.

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