September is Craniofacial Awareness and Acceptance Month

I am a craniofacial trained plastic surgeon from Stanford University having provided craniofacial, cleft lip, and palate care to my patients in academia in North Carolina I then transitioned into private practice in Knoxville Tennessee. I currently no longer take on new pediatric patients in plastic surgery but I extend my love and support for children and their families who have to endure many years of surgical procedures to reach a state of normalcy. It certainly is an uphill battle and I am always amazed at the resiliency of these small children to endure very complex and long surgeries to achieve rehabilitation from congenital birth defects. I was always honored to be in a position to provide this care for families in need.

Currently I am mostly an aesthetic plastic surgeon. I very much value my training in the field of craniofacial surgery because it has given me such a unique insight into the normal form and function of the skeleton surrounding the eyes, face and nose as it interacts with the multiple muscles and fat pads creating the complex composite of how we appear to our friends and family. In depth study of the face through transitions in time from infancy to adulthood to the unwelcoming aging facial appearance provides me an aesthetic eye from which I can provide treatment plans to optimize facial balance of the skeletal form, soft tissue volume, and overlying skin to achieve a youthful face.

With aging the bony orbital volume increases resulting in changes in globe position, the soft tissue support mechanism of the eyelids and fat pads diminish resulting in looser lower eyelids and prominence of the lower eyelid fat pads increases. In regard to the upper eyelids and brows we see the temporal fat pads both above and below the muscle begin to waste away giving a skeletonize look to the upper lateral orbit and descent of the lateral brow that hangs over the upper eyelid. The actual upper eyelid skin becomes loose and redundant and the support mechanism of the upper inner fat pad decreases allowing it to be more visible.

Rejuvenation of the periorbital region all depends on the degree of the aging disorder. Early stages can be treated with filler agents such as an induction technique with Sculptra. This product when injected into the tissue results in an inflammatory mediated process to induce collagen production as a replacement for the fat lost in a given fat pad zone such as the temporal fat pads which, by restoring volume, can re-suspend the lateral brow tissue to reduce hooding over the upper eyelid. The areas of the lower eyelid such as the tear trough and the lower eyelid fat pad -cheek junction can often be smoothed similar to photo-shopping with the injection of hyaluronic acid fillers deep to the eyelid muscle as an enhancement of the skeletal rim. This may even change refraction of the light off of the skin of the lower eyelid, modestly reducing a dark appearance. However, if there is significant excess skin of the brow and upper and lower eyelid then an endoscopic brow lift with upper and lower eyelid surgery is generally required to achieve satisfactory results.

The midface is the area along the cheek bone and extending inferiorly down to the cheek fold line (nasolabial fold). This is an important anatomic region that houses a large fat pad. The shape and the projection of this area is dependent on the upper jaw bony structure as well as the volume of the fat pad. Unfortunately, the fat volume is programed with aging to shrink in size leading to less cheek projection and the deflated net result can lead to enhancement of the nasolabial fold and produce unwanted downward turning of the corners of the lips and jowling (hanging skin over the inside border of the jaw line lateral to the chin.) The number one most important intervention is restitution of the volume loss of the fat pad. This can be corrected with a very dense crosslinked hyaluronic acid filler agent like Restylane Lyft or Voluma. Another option is the induction technique of Sculptra if multiple areas need restoration simultaneously. If a face-lift is indicated I always replace the fat volume with a deep fat grafting injection in the same anatomic relationship of the fat pad.

And finally, a review of the lower face which, in my facial analysis, occupies the lips, lower jaw including the chin point, and the neck region. Once again the lips lose volume and definition with aging. The upper lip’s vertical columns extending from the base of the nose down to the cupid bow points flatten with age and the skin above the lips lose volume and become flat and can demonstrate vertical lines emanating above the vermillion. This is a dead give- away for aging on a women. Simultaneously the lower lips thin as well and the corners of the mouth turn inferiorly giving a sad appearance. Accurate and judicious restoration of volume in this area, with an appropriate aesthetic eye, is required to restore the vertical columns cupid bow points, the central tubercle as well as the two lateral tubercles and volumize the commissures of the mouth. Nothing is worse than a blown up upper lip without delicate definitions of the above mentioned points. I see many grotesquely enhanced lips today that don’t represent normal youthful anatomy. The other important component of the lower face is the underlying skeletal relationship between the upper and lower jaws. If there is a small lower jaw often the chin is retruded and there is an increased fold below the lower lip and chin due to lack of lip support by the lower incisor teeth. This weak jaw relationship also leads to an obtuse cervical –mental angle with loose hanging skin of the anterior lower neck. Skeletal correction with a screws retained implant or a small chin bone advancement can greatly improve the neck line. Vertical bands in the anterior neck can only be corrected with surgical correction as part of a lower face-neck lift with excellent long term results. If a person has excess fat in the neck with some lose skin and no vertical bands then a judicious removal of fat with liposuction can result in a tighter looking neck with less full appearance. I personally feel that other techniques like CoolSculpting is an expensive less effective technique because it does nothing to lead to skin tightening and has less precision of selective fat removal.

In summary, I feel that having a craniofacial surgery background provides me with unique skills of facial analysis and three dimensional correctional treatment options. These treatment options, which can correct or restore normal anatomy for better balance, provide a means to harmonize aging facial deformities to look more rested and youthful without leading to an abnormal appearance that would cause people to ponder what you had done.

For more information visit http://www.thelucascenter.com/

Skeletal augmentation of the chin

Our brains are hard wired to perform pattern recognition. We subconsciously analyze faces for proportionality of the vertical facial thirds and right and left axial symmetry and then attach an aesthetic value based on the harmony. Without even contemplating this, a person’s bias to say one face is more pleasing than another occurs almost instantaneously. Men are routinely viewed as more masculine and stronger in appearance if they possess a symmetric lower jaw in harmony with the middle facial third or conversely they may appear weaker or less vital if they portray a retruded jaw with an obtuse chin-neck angle. Additionally, having a stronger skeletal support of the soft tissues of the face and neck will lead to less of an aged appearance compared to a less prominent skeletal relationship. People with under-bites and small lower jaws having fuller, less defined neck lines look older or even appear more overweight compared to an individual with a normal jaw line. Therefore, correction of this anomaly of the jaw and neck makes sense for projecting a powerful image and to offset an premature aged appearance.

The treatment for this condition is heavily dependent upon a three dimensional facial analysis. If the lower jaw is retruded with a steep mandibular plain angle and a vertically elongated chin with lip strain, without question, the best approach is to perform a sliding, vertically reducing and forwardly advancing osteotomy of the chin with skeletal fixation. This allows the projecting chin point to move forward while shortening the chin and reducing the lip strain. In conjunction with this approach additional soft tissue support just under the lip and above the chin is required with fat grafting to soften the labiomental crease which increases as the chin is moved further forward than the teeth. Fat is an easy approach with less cost than a bone graft which can provide the same results. Lastly to tone the skin under the jaw and to crisp the chin-neck angle, liposuction is performed to remove unwanted fat but more importantly to induce scar contracture of the overlying skin to allow for neck retraction and an improved jaw line.

If the chin is retruded and has a normal proportion to that of the middle third of the face, I prefer a Medpor chin implant which can provide skeletal enhancement without the need for an osteotomy. Unlike a silicone gel implant it can be carved and customized to meet the exact needs of the patient. I then perform bone screw fixation so the implant is not free floating like other implants and becomes the normal extension of the bone. Just as in the previous scenario soft tissue support of the lower lip is required to avoid accentuating the labiomental fold as the chin point is increased over the dental support elements of the lower lip. I also generally utilize liposuction as described above.

The last case type is a patient with a short, vertically deficient chin with respect to the middle facial third. This requires an osteotomy (moving the chin forward) and necessitates an inter-positional bone graft from a bone bank to make the vertical facial thirds the same.

Skeletal enhancement with fat grafting and neck liposuction can produce a very powerful outcome without changing the overall identity of the patient and generally makes the person appear to lose weight and demonstrates a more youthful neck line.

If you are interested in being evaluated for these procedures please contact The Lucas Center, Plastic Surgery, www.thelucascenter.com. 865 218 6210.

Buttock enhancement – what should you know?

The evolution of buttock enhancements has progressed rapidly thanks to the contributions of Drs. Constantino Mendieta, Simeon Wall, and Dan DelVecchio. These surgeons’ concepts have not only aided me in my execution of this procedure but have refined my skills in lipo-sculpting in general. This operation helps to allow women to better fit into clothing that is currently in vogue today by reshaping and enhancing the buttock region and providing sculpting of fat harvesting donor sites such as the back and bra lines, creating a sleek upper back and lateral breast profile. Utilizing a patient’s own fat, a surgeon must possess an excellent aesthetic eye with three dimensional analysis capabilities, visualizing a women’s torso just like a sculptor looks at a slab of marble to be able to bring forth a beautiful feminine form. Unlike carving stone through a subtraction technique alone, we are freeing fat from fibrous encasements, selectively removing the cells for grafting, and redistributing the volume from areas of relative excess to areas of deficiencies to provide a smooth contour. Conversely, a non-invasive contouring procedure such as CoolSculpting allows a surgeon no selective ability to perform differential reduction such as moving fat from areas of relative excess to areas of relative deficiencies and has no ability to encourage skin tightening.

I have been an avid incorporator of fat grafting in all areas of aesthetic surgery. Areas including eyelids, midface volume restitution in face lifts, breast enhancements with and without implants to sculpt a breast where an implant alone cannot, tends to revitalize the overlying skin, as well as any areas with significant soft tissue contour deformity. The buttock however is the largest in scope and volume of the fat grafting procedures I perform. One concept that has greatly improved my non-facial and hand fat grafting is the concept of Expanded Volume Lipofilling. This concept has led to faster more efficient and improved volume deposition particularly with breast and buttock region. Essentially I utilize the same oscillating headpiece and expanded tip cannula utilized in the fibrous tissue separation and fat equilibration to allow me to simultaneously vibrate and expand the soft tissue envelope and back fill in a constant flow manner to provide a smooth application of fat which can take on the desired shape. This technique also prevents, along with the surgeon’s skilled knowledge of the anatomy, the most dreaded complication of injecting inadvertently the large venous complex in the gluteal muscle which can lead to a fat emboli to the heart which in some cases has resulted in several deaths around the world. The vast majority of women I see for this procedure tend to lack volume in the lateral hip, the posterior and lateral thigh as well as the buttock itself. These areas need to be enhanced to yield a pleasing result which an implant into the gluteal region alone would not be able to provide. Fat grafting has far fewer complications compared to an implant and allows the adjacent tissues to be three dimensionally made coincident with the gluteal enhanced region giving a far more natural and aesthetically pleasing result. Combined with the liposculpting of the donor site areas, this procedure often results in a global torso reshaping providing the women a renewed confidence in her body with or without clothing.

Despite such a large area of involvement of the body during this procedure we are not violating any core muscles such as an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) thus recovery is much quicker and, although global soreness is expected, most women resume normal activities within a few days to a week.

I hope this blog provides some insights into the thought process and execution of a buttock enhancement. It truly is a constellation of multiple processes in cutting edge liposculpting which very much resembles what an artisan must perform to create pleasing forms out of any medium he or she desires. This certainly requires great skills both innate such as three dimensional perception and an aesthetic judgement as well as an excellent knowledge of surgical anatomy to avoid fatal complications. Therefore I would be cautious to engage anyone else but a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in this endeavor.

If you are interested in a consultation for body aesthetic surgery or more particularly buttock enhancement with Expanded Volume Lipofilling contact Dr. Jay H. Lucas, at The Lucas Center, Plastic Surgery in Knoxville, TN at 865 218 6210. www.Thelucascenter.com

Neck Rejuvenation in 2017

Neck Rejuvenation in 2017, what works, what is just hype and is it worth the cost?

Having loose hanging skin or having a bulky neck line can unquestionably give an aged appearance. Excessively full necks may even project being overweight even if the rest of the body is healthy. These are some of the reasons many individuals chose to alter the shape and or volume of their neck to feel more comfortable about themselves. As a result of this trend, the aesthetic industry has tried to tap into this market. In this article I will review a few currently marketed options for people to explore. I often say that for the consumer of aesthetic services it’s like trying to navigate the Wild Wild West to actually find what works. Unfortunately, many Mississippi “Snake Oil” salesmen occupy this space and are more than ready to hype and sell you potions, poultices, and fancy machines and LASERS that promise the fountain of youth but only deliver the spring waters of spoof. The Baby Boomers are aging and are kicking and screaming trying to be healthier than ever and therefore Medi Spas are popping up everywhere, often times staffed by untrained clinicians – so buyer beware.

Non-surgical volume reduction of unwanted fat in the neck.
Non-surgical options include a mesotherapy injection technique of fat dissolving salt solutions such as Kybella, which is now owned by Allergan. They have marketed this quite heavily in magazines and on the airways. Keep in mind that they spent a fortune acquiring this technology and are trying to recoup their costs. I have performed this technique on several patients and although it may reduce some unwanted fat and may create a small amount of skin retraction it requires multiple treatment sessions and the total cost of all these treatments, which yield very modest results, actually costs nearly the same as a clinically proven face/neck lift which gives wonderful results that can last up to ten years. In summary, I am underwhelmed and view this as a very niche market and was a very poor decision on Allergan’s part.

Another non-surgical volume reduction technique is Cool Sculpting (Cryolipolysis), where fat cells are frozen with a contract device that leads to cell death. This also requires several sessions and not at an insignificant price point. There is no mechanism for skin retraction in conjunction with the fat reduction. Also, it is hard to isolate cells and any area that requires contouring often has areas of excess combined with some areas of under-contouring which cannot be addressed therefore the sculpting portion of the name is a bit misleading. I think this devise is best used on the torso and the neck should be avoided.

In my opinion the best non-surgical technique to correct unwanted fat excess in the neck (with overlying skin that has a reasonable chance of re-draping or retracting) is the SAFE liposuction technique. Three small stabs, one in the chin crease, one in the neck line, and one on each earlobe cheek junction can provide triangulation with the cannulas to first separate the fat from the surrounding fibrous tissue then selectively remove the excess fat and redistribute areas of excess fat to areas of under-contouring to truly sculpt the neck. Of course judgement is required because if too much fat is removed one can expose platysma bands in the neck giving an aged appearance. Unquestionably this technique leads to the best chance of re-draping of the skin to give a better contour compared to the above mentioned options. You will not see this option advertised in magazines or on television because industry can’t make any money on selling the liposuction equipment they need to hype injectables. What you pay for in liposuction is surgical experience and aesthetic judgement to give a great result.

Non-surgical skin tightening of the neck.
The technology of radiofrequency has been tried in many fields of medicine and surgery. It has found niches in vascular surgery for varicose veins and in some degree for skin/mucosal tightening for some vaginal rejuvenation and body as a whole. The main problem I have with this option is the technology is very expensive as with LASER machines and as such, the cost is passed down to the consumer. Results are modest at best. I have chosen to sit this one out but if you wish to explore this option I would chose a board certified plastic surgeon as opposed to a dermatologist or some other practitioner. The reason for this statement is under-qualified providers often hide behind new technologies that are marketed to get you in the door and if they can only offer one treatment option then everyone is a candidate for this treatment. Alternatively, a full service plastic surgeon who may have non-invasive equipment would not offer it to you if you were actually a surgical candidate so as not to waste your money and time.

For me the best non-surgical treatment for skin tightening is still liposuction. Even if there is little to no fat excess in the neck I would still employ SAFE liposuction techniques without aspirating any fat. The process of passing cannulas underneath the surface of the skin induces collagen production and skin tightening which is quite predictable in the right candidates.

Surgical correction of the aging neck
In general as a plastic surgeon who offers a wide ranges of options of facial rejuvenation both surgically and non- surgically, I can say with great authority and conviction that the best use of your money and time investment is with a clinically proven face/neck lift procedure. As I have mentioned before there are many varieties of surgical techniques employed by surgeons to provide an aesthetically pleasing rejuvenation. The most important factor above all else is the quality and judgment of the surgeon’s aesthetic eye. Unlike gallbladder extraction or knee replacement surgery, there is no one “best practice” technique. Because plastic surgeons live in a world of both science and artistry, and just like Van Goh and Matisse employed different techniques and subject matter, both created beauty. Since I am not a “cookie-cutter” surgeon, each patient I operate on gets a slightly different process based on anatomy and the state of aging of the individual. In general, I almost always open the anterior neck through a chin crease and sculpt the subcutaneous fat layer. Next I identify the platysma muscle and unify the two paired muscles together in the midline to the cervico-mental angle followed by division of the muscle superiorly away from the lower segment to get muscle retraction for a crisp neck line. Unlike some of my colleagues in South America and in Europe I tend not to perform much sub-platysma work such as defatting or removal of submandibular glands to de-bulk the neck. I personally find it can lead to the appearance of an overdone neck. My goal is to give a refreshed natural appearance not an over-operated stark look. In the lower face just as in liposculpturing there is the process of de-bulking areas of excess and the addition of lost volume in the central cheek area with fat grafting. Lifting the face without volume restitution leads to a much lesser result. In general the central face is volumized and the lateral face is lifted. Part of the lateral lifting is utilizing a deeper fascia layer under the skin to lift the lateral platysma muscle superiorly and laterally to yield a crisp mandibular border affect. These techniques combined with good aesthetic judgement can lead to excellent long lasting results that make the person feel proportionate to how young they feel on the inside.

If you would like a three dimensional global prospective for the aging face with both non-surgical and surgical options please visit my website at www.thelucascenter.com or call 865-218-6210.

Jay H. Lucas, MD
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

State of the art of liposculpturing in 2017. What should the prospective patient understand?

The concept of fat removal through hollow cannulas attached to high pressure suction introduced through small stab incisions has been around since 1978 and was crafted in France, Switzerland, and the United States. At that time, tumescence infusion techniques (high volume fluid infusion with lidocaine and epinephrine to minimize blood loss) had not evolved which limited the amount of fat removal due to excessive blood loss. Today the concept of liposculpturing in 2017 has evolved greatly.  There are many technological advancements ranging from liposuction with additional energy sources such as mechanical oscillation (PAL), ultrasonic liposuction (UAL), and laser lipolysis. The first two technologies work to reduce the fibrous tissue network encircling fat which can also reduce tractional forces attached to the dermis which cause cellulite. By releasing this fibrous conglomeration it frees the fat cells to be either removed or redistributed from areas of excess fat to relative areas of fat deficiency. Laser Lipolysis targets fat cells, which alone leads to cell death in conjunction with fat cell removal with suction. However, no matter the technique or the technology, the most critical factor for excellent outcomes is a surgeon’s keen aesthetic judgement.  This judgement is derived from a well versed three dimensional surgical anatomy of a particular body part to appropriately discern what is required to transform a less pleasing shape into an aestheticly desired form. New technologies will come and go but the educated aesthetic surgical eye is what ultimately creates the art.

I personally utilized ultrasonic liposuction as my mainstay from 2001 to 2016 but after delving into the concepts of SAFE liposuction (Separation of fibrous tissue away from the fat, Aspiration of the fat, followed by tissue equilibration of fat) based on concepts from Dr. Simeon Wall, I rethought my techniques and felt the (PAL) Power Assisted Liposuction could provide a more versatile approach particularly with fat equilibration. In my training and early clinical years I approached liposuction as merely a subtraction technique to sculpting the body. Clearly, in areas such as the posterior lateral thighs and the gluteal region, and in gynecomastia, exceptional results can only be achieved with fat removal followed by fat grafting to areas of deficiency and regional equilibration of adipose thickness by dispersing free floating yet vascularized fat cells from areas of relative excess to thinner areas. This is where artistry can be employed to create a whole new shape as compared to just a subtraction technique. Non-surgical procedures such as cryolipolysis (Coolsculpting), and endermology (Kybella) pale in comparison as they only produce subtraction of fat cells in a relatively uncontrolled manner without any mechanism to create skin retraction or tightening.  

The power of SAFE liposculpting with expansion and large volume lipofilling can produce attractive buttock shapes with enhancement.  Additionally, SAFE liposuction can redefine male breast enlargement correction to not just remove the fibroglandular elements, which could leave a flat amorphous chest, to providing an even more masculine appearance by utilizing fat subtraction from the armpits, upper abdomen and placing the fat into the pectoralis muscle borders to yield an enhanced appearance. Some surgeons are performing liposculpting of the abdomen to create the appearance of a “Six Pack” by removing excess fat then lipofilling the rectus, serratus, and external oblique muscles to provide the appearance of a ripped abdomen. My concern is that this may look very appealing at first with the younger generation but long term aging, weight changes and overlying skin inelasticity might appear odd looking over time.

The good news:  thanks to many contributions of forward thinking plastic surgeons, which I am proud that our specialty as a whole are a group of innovators by nature, patients can reap the rewards of these efforts by realizing artisticly predictable results of body sculpting like never before. I encourage patients to seek out board certified plastic surgeons who have significant experience in this area to ensure results with safety because in the wrong untrained hands serious complications can occur. Unfortunately the economics of medicine today has motivated physicians of other specialties to attempt to provide these services which have led to poor results and even deaths. Please choose wisely and remember you often get what you pay for.

What I learned from the 50th American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Meeting in San Diego April 27- May 2 2017

First off I have to congratulate all the contributions of past and present board members and officers who forged a society which was originally viewed as a rogue society within the frame work of organized plastic surgery, shunned by all chairman of academic programs and has progressed to be the preeminent society for education of aesthetic surgery and safety concerns to provide the highest quality of care for all patients.

There were more classes and presentations than I could attend so I was strategic in my mission to glean information pertinent to my aesthetic solo private practice in Knoxville, Tn.

Facial Rejuvenation

Many advances in non-invasive techniques to slow the aging process have occurred but in the poignant words of Dr. Dan Baker, “surgery still remains the gold standard and stop apologizing for being a surgeon”. No question that the absolute best and in many ways a far more economical approach to face and neck aging problems is surgery. Many techniques can be employed to achieve natural and balanced results but the absolute most important factor is a surgeon with a good aesthetic eye and prudent judgement in the execution of a procedure. In my opinion adjuvant use of fat grafting to the main areas of facial fat wasting demonstrated by Dr. Rohrich is imperative to achieve outstanding results when atrophy is noted. Additionally Dr. Little showed some nice results of secondary procedures around the upper eyes and brows from over-resection of too much tissue with high riding eyelid crease and hollowed eyes with fat grafting. A provocative panel on sub-platysma tissue resection in neck lifts demonstrating that the subcutaneous layers of the neck actually thin with age and the deep plain below the platysma increases in size with fat deposition and salivary gland enlargement contributing to a fuller neck appearance. Some interesting results were seen with submandibular gland resection and even parotid gland resection to achieve a more sculpted look of the neck. However some of the results did appear overdone and not as natural compared to corset platysmaplasties. They report few complications but my concern for hematoma and salivary gland fistulas certainly would be higher than pre-platysma procedures.

Refinements in hyaluronic acid filler agents continue to occur both in terms of product as well as techniques and the science behind them. New findings are being seen with the interaction of the mimetic muscles and hyaluronic acid. Muscles adjacent to filler agents tend to reduce muscle activity. For example direct injection into the nasolabial fold can reduce muscle activity of the levator, and orbicularis muscle thus reducing the retraction activity thus softening the fold. Higher G’ fillers injected into the vermillion cutaneous border can weaken the pursing action of the orbicularis muscle softening the vertical lines. More studies to follow but this was a new concept for me.

A class in secondary rhinoplasties discussed the early experience of Dr. Rohrich’s use of tissue bank fresh frozen rib cartilage for visible grafts for noses. The cost is very reasonable avoids donor site morbidity and handles like native tissue. I see a number of revision surgeries from elsewhere and I plan to use this material in the future.

Breast

Many interesting topics but in general I find the Southeastern Society Atlanta Breast Meeting to be a more intense study of this field of aesthetic surgery. Certainly a poignant topic was ALCL related to breast implants sparked by the FDA recent public notification of this topic. The Aesthetic society has been at the forefront of this issue since it became a known entity over ten years ago. More in-depth studies are needed. Of particular interest is the etiology of this inflammatory derived lymphoma. It appears that individuals who have a certain genetic predisposition that become exposed to certain biofilms adjacent to implants containing certain bacteria that have antigens which trigger antigen presenting lymphoid cells to produce certain interleukins which overtime create clonal expansion of T cells resulting in lymphoma. Textured implants have been identified as a risk factor for developing this disease but based on the above mentioned model it is suspected that the texturing only increases the surface area of the implant surface compared to a smooth devise creating a larger area of biofilm contact with the opposing tissue around the implant. Fortunately successful treatment occurs with early detection and diagnosis and complete capsule removal and implant exchange. Late stages can result in distant disease and death. Fortunately compared to the denominator of all implants placed this is a very rare disease with low risk of death. It is interesting there are geographic clusters of this disease with Australia and New Zealand with higher rates than Europe which utilizes more textured implants than the United States which has a very low incidence.

Body Contouring

One interesting aspect of this meeting demonstrated the increase in male aesthetic surgery demands by having the first ever male only body contouring panel. I found Dr. Wall’s presentation for gynecomastia intriguing in his technique of not just contouring the male chest with liposculpturing and direct sub-areolar tissue removal as a subtraction technique. He actually employs axillary and serratus anterior and epigastric overlying fat removal and utilizing it for lipo-filling the anterior free border of the pectoralis major muscle as well as the lower insertion points on the chest wall to enhance a muscular appearance avoiding a flat amorphous look to the chest. Other presenters are trying to give a more masculine appearance by enhancing the appearance of the underlying muscle anatomy with fat enhancement. My question is:  what is the long term appearance after aging (i.e. sagging skin and weight gain)?

Of course the biggest discussions involved the ever increasing demand of buttock reshaping and enhancement with fat grafting. Based on pulling data from all countries including the United States this procedure has the greatest risk of dying compared to any other aesthetic procedure. The number one cause is the misplacement of a fat grafting cannula and injecting the piriformis muscle with fat which just below houses very large bore veins that can transmit the fat to the heart as an embolic event. It is imperative to use large bore cannulas over 4mm and stay always in the subcutaneous plain and keep the instrument moving. I agree with embracing the techniques of Drs. Wall and Del Vecchio with SST (simultaneous separation and tumescence) as a single step to enhance vasoconstriction and reduce time while separating the fat from stroma. Then the paradigm shift away from Coleman concepts of fat graft with EVL (expanded volume lipofilling) for buttock enhancement as well as breast. My couple of month experience with this technique mostly in the breast has been favorable.

Labia Majora and Labia Minora rejuvenation

This is another segment of aesthetic surgery which has flourished in the last several years based on changes in grooming habits and the athleisure trends of yoga pants that make women seek out these procedures. I also have seen more demand with my post-bariatric patients as well. The two most common techniques for labioplasty is the direct trim and the wedge technique respecting the posterior blood supply to the region. Excessive clitoral hooding must be addressed at the same time. I suspect the demand will continue for some time.

Skin Strategies

Strategies to maintain a youthful face throughout your life


Age is certainly just a number. What is more important is your physiologic age which is a culmination of genetics, diet, exercise, sun exposure protection, smoking status, and how well a person manages any chronic diseases. But in general terms I find it useful to stratify algorithms for best practices for maintaining a youthful face into decades of life.

The Twenties

In the late teens and twenties the single best strategy for long term health and appearance of the skin of the face is appropriate sun block protection. Excessive unprotected sun exposure and tanning beds may yield what appears at a brief moment in time as a healthy glow to the skin will ultimately result in loose inelastic skin with greater degrees of wrinkling along with unfavorable splotchy pigmented appearances. The sun makes everyone happy and feel good but our skin must be protected with hourly reapplication of sun screen while in direct sunlight and every morning a layer of sunscreen applied as part of a normal routine for face care. Peels, Laser’s, micro-needling, and home skin care can improve and repair some of the damages but prevention is the best course to look your best over time. Another aspect of care during the twenties is preventative treatment of severe acne formation of the skin. Anyone who has been left with multiple ice pick scars from cystic acne would do anything to improve the surface of the skin. Once again Lasers and micro-needling can improve the appearance but cannot eliminate all the scaring. Routine facials, extractions of pores, topical application of metronidazole or doxycycline, toners, retinols and, fruit acid applications are all useful tools to combat skin pores from clogging, become infected, and resulting in severe inflammation with resultant scaring of the dermis.

The Thirties

While still being youthful the physiology of the skin can change somewhat particularly dependent on genetics, the degree of skin pigmentation protection, sun exposure, and hormonal changes related to pregnancies. If someone is an avid tanner the repercussions of a couple of decades of excess UVA and UVB radiation from sun can already be seen in the skin’s appearance. Also unfortunately women who have been pregnant may experience hyperpigmentation of the skin about the face. As skin elasticity is reduced the animation of muscles directly under the skin around the eyes, forehead, and mouth may begin to create wrinkles during this decade and rapidly progress throughout the rest of the life of the individual. An important tool to alter the progression is the use of neuromodulators such as Dysport and Botox. These chemicals, derived from the botulinum toxin, block nerve transmission to the muscle thus reducing their tone leading to ellimination of wrinkles of the skin overlying the muscle. This treatment can help not only the immediate appearance of the facial lines but can also act as a preventative measure to avoid deep folds in the face if administered routinely from the thirties on. Also depending on an individual’s anatomy or issues of chronic sinus disease of the ethmoid sinuses some people may begin to have the appearance of bulging lower eyelid fat pads with an increased eyelid cheek junction demarcation which may lead to a fatigued demeanor of the eyes. Many times this can be reduced in appearance with the injection of a hyaluronic acid filler agents ( Restylane and Juvaderm) blending the eyelid and cheek junction similar to photo-shopping the bags out of a portrait. Even in the thirties this can make a nice refreshing improvement in the eyes and face with no down time except some minor bruising that can be easily covered up with makeup.

The Forties

This is the decade where programed fat atrophy begins to occur leading to aging facial appearances. The fat in our face is in discrete packets under our skin and when certain fat pads begin to shrink in volume particularly the cheek fat pad (sub-malar fat pad), and the temporal fossa fat pad (in the temples) the cheek projection begins to diminish leading to a landslide affect that pivots along the nasolabial fold enhancing this structure and flattening the upper cheek, and causing the corners of the mouth to descend. In the temple region with reduction of volume the lateral brow begins to fall into the upper eyelid space. Fortunately plastic surgeons can reverse these changes with adding volume back into these spaces with either hyaluronic acid filler agents or induction therapy with Sculptra which stimulates the body to produce collagen to replace the missing fat. These non-surgical techniques have made big strides in warding off the early signs of aging. Also during the forties neuromodulators such as Botox and Dysport can play even more important roles in balancing muscle activity to provide subtle lift to the brows, minimize crow’s feet around the eyes, and reduction of muscle tone of the upper lip to avoid animation vertical lines during smiling. Lips are certainly a focal point of the middle third of the face and can experience signs of aging with the loss of a three dimensional appearance of the upper lip, down-turning of the corners of the mouth, and reduced skin tone leading to vertical lines. Hyaluronic acid filler agents can be utilized to subtly define the vermillion-cutaneous border of the lips, recreate the vertical columns that extend from under the nose to the each high point of the cupids bow of the upper lip as well efface deeper vertical lines that extend vertically from the vermillion. Improvement in the tone of the upper lip skin can be developed with micro-needling (Please see previous blog for this technique).  Unwanted pigmentation blotches can be reduced by home treatments with retinols, topical vitamin C, and niacinamide combined with serial skin peels to provide more even tones.

The Fifties and beyond

All treatments listed in the forties can certainly be continued into the later decades to promote longevity of youth. However gravity and tissue thinning and loss of elasticity is ongoing and never ceasing, leading many to pursue surgical options to correct hanging brows, loose upper and lower eyelid skin, and restore normal jaw line appearances. See blogs on surgical rejuvenation of the face.  

Three dimensional breast rejuvenation, my personalized approach for the breast enhancement patient.

Just as no two faces are identical no two women’s breast and torso’s are the same either. At The Lucas Center, Plastic Surgery I do not use a cookie cutter approach to breast enhancement. I employ many algorithms to determine the best treatment plans for my patients. I am not just focused on just the breast mounds nor am I content to just place the same round implant in everyone. I analyze your breast bone (sternum), the shape and slope of the rib cage, any spine asymmetry such as scoliosis, the amount of soft tissue in the arm pits just lateral to the breast tissue, and the breast fold to collar bone length before even evaluating the breast themselves. I then measure the actual width and height of the breasts, how much thickness exists in the upper poles, the overall shape and position of the nipple areolar complexes with respect to the breast mound, how much stretch the tissues exhibit, and the volume and distribution of the volume and any skin excess. Many patients are surprised how analytical and detailed my exam is for the consultation compared to many surgeons who just eyeball the breast and decide on an implant after placing many different sizers in the OR. Normally I go to the operating room with a plan and have pre-determined the shape and size and texture of the implant prior to surgery. I avoid sizers when at all possible because the more implants are pushed through the incision the greater the likelihood of creating biofilm in the pocket (a leading cause of capsular contracture.) I also utilize a three dimensional imaging system which helps patients see themselves from a new prospective and have the ability to evaluate truly what a given implant looks like on their specific body. Much more exact than asking a patient to fill a desired cup size bra with different size implants.

My operative plan not only includes which implant to employ but the position within the breast (partially under the muscle, under just the gland or under the layer of tissue which wraps around the pectoralis muscle.) Each of these pockets have advantages and disadvantages and is not a one size fits all approach for me I use them all depending on circumstances. The shape and type of implant very much is determined by all the above mentioned measurements which involve the breast and the surrounding chest wall each type of implant has their benefits and downsides. I also determine well before hand any need for a breast lift in conjunction with implant placement.

Other adjunct procedures I often employ which can maximize the aesthetic outcomes of breast surgery beyond determining the implant size and shape or additional skin and breast lifting procedures may include the process of fat grafting. The addition of lipo-filling the breast and chest wall is analogous to photo-shopping this area of the body to uniquely sculpt your tissues such as the decollate area to enhance cleavage of in the upper pole of the breast to give the appearance of a higher positioned breast on the chest wall or even to correct contour asymmetries. This tissue refinement is invaluable to enhance the overall result for a women which cannot be achieved with an implant alone. Another fine detail which can separate an excellent result from a normal good outcome is to evaluate the arm pit / bra skin roll of tissue as it intersects with the lateral breast silhouette. Excess tissue can generally be removed or reshaped with power assisted liposuction techniques which includes removal of excess fatty tissue and equilibrate the fat volume from areas of excess to deficient regions giving an artistic aesthetic lateral profile to the breast which many surgeons ignore all together but when viewed with a discerning eye certainly creates a whole different level of excellence weather viewed with or without clothing.

My goal for my patients who seek either primary breast enhancement or “Mommy make-over” breast rejuvenation is to provide customized excellence for their outcomes. No two people are alike therefore with a thorough three dimensional examination of all associated tissues of the chest and breast we can devise a unique surgical plan incorporating all means necessary to maximize the aesthetic outcomes. I view myself as an artisan not a mass production factory for my breast services.

Current treatment for enlarged male breasts

Current treatment for enlarged male breasts (gynecomastia)


Gynecomastia (“man boobs”) is a condition in which the fibro-glandular structures centered under the nipple areolar complex on men may result in a wide range of enlargement deformities. Many males find that it occurs around puberty and will persist despite maintaining ideal body weight and good exercise habits. Certainly the enlargement can be made worse with excessive weight gain. Men may also experience new onset of this condition any time during their life time. Medications may potentiate gynecomastia such as exogenous testosterone replacement due to the fact that testosterone can be converted in fat to estrogen particularly if the testosterone levels are in excess of normal values. Some have argued using an estrogen blocking agent at the same time as giving testosterone if men developed increased in breast size. With legalization of recreational marijuana in many parts of this country there will undoubtedly be an increase the incidence of gynecomastia due to marijuana’s potentiating effect on male breast size. Older gentlemen may also experience increase in breast size as natural hormonal changes occur resulting in an increased estrogen/testosterone ratio leading to this deformity. In my practice I commonly see a full spectrum of ages ranging from young teenage boys who are embarrassed to go shirtless or wear tight fitting shirts to twenty somethings who participate in cross-fit and body building but still see an enlargement of their breasts that detracts from their well- earned physique, and finally men who had been overweight and have lost weight either from bariatric surgery or lifestyle changes and desire to eliminate a large amount of excess skin on the breast and chest region to regain a healthy masculine appearance.

Treatment options for gynecomastia

As with any deformity that has a wide spectrum of presentations the treatment varies as well. For the male who has excellent skin quality with minimal or no stretch marks and a normal nipple position with respect to the chest wall and has enlargement of the breasts, these are excellent cases for suction assisted lipectomy with an additional energy source such as an oscillating motor (PAL – Power Assisted Liposuction) or ultrasonic energy. The reason regular liposuction has limitations is that the male breast has lots of fibrous tissue encasing fat and glandular elements which help to tether the overlying skin to the chest wall to keep the tissue from excessive movement. Regular cannulas utilized in liposuction cannot break up and penetrate this tissue to extract the fat and glandular elements effectively nor can it release the fibrous tissue to allow for re-draping of the skin for a smooth contour postoperatively. Either ultrasonic energy or the oscillating motor in conjunction with liposuction provides the ability to breakup this tissue to both extract tissue and provide smooth contours. However, I have found that even after aggressive liposuctioning of the area, at least twenty five percent of patients require me to make a peri-areolar incision to perform direct resection of the residual fibro-glandular tissue under the areola to provide an ideal appearance. My experience with men who have enlarged areola (nipple) diameters is that with skin retraction after liposuction, the size generally contracts eliminating the need to surgically reduce the areola diameter such as a mastopexy (breast left) technique thus avoiding risk of scaring.

I have seen a number of teenage boys who are overweight and have loose skin, breast tissue herniating into the areola with the nipple-areola complex hanging down creating a matronly appearing female breast. This deformity requires not only liposuction but at least a peri-areolar mastopexy technique to reposition the nipple complex and reduce the areolar diameter to achieve a more masculine appearance.

Gynecomastia is a fairly common condition and many men find that it detracts from their appearance and leads to self-confidence issues. Fortunately surgical treatment can be very easy and effective to achieve wonderful, very natural results. Please consult a board certified plastic surgeon to discuss gynecomastia repair – there is no need to cope with this disfigurement.

What are the options for Post bariatric massive weight loss on body deformities

Individual Options:  Post bariatric massive weight loss and body deformities


The epidemic of obesity in this country is contributing to millions of Americans developing diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and worsening the outcomes of degenerative joint disease. Ultimately a true commitment to life style changes will lead to healthier outcomes. Some morbidly obese individuals need invasive bariatric surgery to aide in this endeavor and the results can be spectacular.  Results including long lasting weight loss of sometimes two hundred pounds or more.  Many times the unfortunate end result is individuals being held prisoner by their deflated, left-over skin that hangs from the breasts, arms, abdomen, flanks, and/or medial and lateral thighs. There is well documented literature which supports body contouring after weight loss in motivating patients to maintain their new life styles.

What are the options for body contouring after massive weight loss?

For the lower torso

Many patients initially fixate on the fact they have a large pannus of the abdomen (layman’s terms:  apron or flap of tissue over the abdomen) and think all they need is to remove this isolated deformity. This is emphasized by bariatric surgeons who only feel comfortable offering panniculectomies (tissue/skin removal) for lower torso deformities because they do not possess the skills or have the aesthetic eye of a fully trained plastic surgeon.  In fact many women and men complain that the lower pelvic tissue also hangs and has thinned and fallen away from the pubic bone leading to aesthetic deformities of the external genital region such as the mons pubis (layman’s terms:  the area over the pubic bone) and vulvar region (layman’s terms:  the area around the entrance to the vagina). Panniculectomies do not address this condition. Secondly the abdominal rectus muscles (the “Abs”) which act as an internal corset for the abdominal contents, holding them in check, often times become separated resulting in not a hernia but a large abdominal bulge. Women who have had children often will have a greater deformity than men. This also is never addressed during a panniculectomy. Another thing to consider:  massive weight gain is not two dimensional therefore weight loss skin changes are also a three dimensional deformity.  In addition to the abdomen and pelvic region, lower torso problems include excessive skin and fat hanging on the flanks, very proximal lateral excess thigh tissue, as well as the buttock becomes flat and shapeless making clothing difficult to wear. My recommendation for this constellation of deformities is the circumferential lower body lift. This is a single stage operation which includes a full lipo-abdominoplasty (removal of excess skin of the abdomen, correction of the underlying muscle deformity), pelvic rejuvenation (suspending and reshaping the mons pubis or the tissue surrounding the penile shaft), Flank tissue recontouring, lateral thigh resuspension, and lastly buttock reshaping and elevation with transposing excess tissue from the flanks to the buttock region. Yes this is a significant operation around six and a half hours but it is outpatient and our results are excellent and have never had to readmit anyone after surgery. This truly is a transformational operation freeing patients of their unwanted excess skin and all associated deformities and a very distinct difference from just a panniculectomy.

For patients who have already undergone a lower body lift and still have excess tissue in the upper abdomen that is loose a reverse abdominoplasty can be an ideal method to remove this excess and can be used to provide added vascularized tissue to add volume to the breast if an implant is not selected as part of a mastopexy.

Upper torso options

Just as there are many body shapes there are many variations to massive weight loss body changes. Both women and men experience deflation and hanging tissue from the upper arms and   upper back region. The only way to correct this is through an aggressive skin reduction technique that commonly starts at the elbow and extends in a posterior medial line angle of the upper arm to the armpit and then continues on the posterior axillary line angle and follows the back as far down as required to remove the excess. In some women we can stop near the bra line. But our goal is to avoid hanging skin over the bra. Both men and women also have unsightly shapes to the chest and breast region. Women lose significant breast volume and have skin excess which leads to very flat deflated hanging breasts. In post-bariatric patients we try to avoid implants if we can because the residual soft tissue is generally not mechanically strong and holding implants in the correct position on a chest wall is quite difficult. I would prefer to perform breast lift with significant skin reduction and adding volume with either fat grafting or reverse abdominoplasties to obtain acceptable shapes. Sometimes I am forced to use implants but it increases the need for revision surgeries to get ideal results. Men often need gynecomastia (breast tissue removal) repair utilizing a significant skin reduction technique similar to a mastectomy and blending the scar into a chest fold. The standard gynecomastia techniques with PAL (power assisted lipectomy) with or without a periareolar (around the areola) mastopexy are not an option.

Medial Thighs

Once again there are many variations among patients and this region. I have seen men who have lost almost two hundred pounds and have near normal inner thighs. I have also seen women who are near ideal weight and have never lost any significant weight and have excess skin in this region. I will say I often see women who have cascading hanging skin of the inner thigh and upper knee area that prevent these people from feeling comfortable in shorts or skirts. Just as in the upper arms we aggressively liposuction the inner tissue and determine the skin excess and then remove this tissue blending it into the posterior and medial upper thigh and curving the incision into the groin crease. We purposely avoid anchoring the tissue superiorly to the ischium (curved bone forming the base of each half of the pelvis) to avoid deformities of the labia on women. Just as on the arm there is a scar but the vast improvement in contour out-weights the negative results of a scar.

Post-bariatric weight loss can be an amazing journey for patients allowing them to reclaim their health and happiness. Body recontouring is a  necessary step to realize the freedom from the prison of excess skin left behind by the weight loss. Understanding that everyone unique, please come to the Lucas Center, Plastic Surgery to hear about our customized approach to restoring your confidence in yourself after weight loss.