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Neck Rejuvenation in 2017

admin : June 19, 2017 8:28 pm : Neck Rejuvenation

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

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

admin : June 1, 2017 5:45 pm : Uncategorized

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.

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

admin : May 10, 2017 9:19 pm : Uncategorized

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.

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Skin Strategies

admin : March 21, 2017 8:15 pm : Uncategorized

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.  

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

admin : February 8, 2017 5:14 pm : Uncategorized

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.

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Current treatment for enlarged male breasts

admin : January 16, 2017 8:14 pm : Uncategorized

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.

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

admin : January 16, 2017 8:04 pm : Uncategorized

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.

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Referral Rewards Program

admin : December 9, 2016 7:41 pm : The Lucas Center

The referral Rewards Program is our way of saying “THANK YOU” FOR BRINGING
YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO US, at The Lucas Center.
We appreciate the trust and confidence you have placed in us to enhance your
wellness, health and beauty. Referral coupons are available from
The Patient Coordinator.

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Rejuvenate your breast shape and volume with simultaneous breast lift and fat grafting

admin : November 29, 2016 11:31 pm : Breast Lift, Fat grafting

Unfortunately gravity is unceasing and combined with age and sun related skin loss of elasticity a woman’s tissues surrounding her breast can lead to the breast mound falling lower on the chest. Additionally, the volume inside the breast can diminish with hormonal changes after pregnancy and menopause and with significant weight loss.  All these factors triumphantly combine to give an aged appearance that can be significantly disproportionate to the otherwise youthful feeling of a women. Sound depressing? Sure it does but the artistry and science behind plastic surgery can offset these changes to a woman’s breasts and make them feel good about the skin they are in.

If someone is unhappy with the appearance of their breasts it is helpful for analysis sake to deconstruct the breast into two separate components: the overlying skin brazier, and the volume and its distribution of the breast mound on the chest wall.

The mound itself may have adequate volume but most of the distribution of the volume is in the lower pole of the breast well below the breast fold requiring a bra to perform a heroic task of keeping the breast on the proper location on the chest wall. This situation can be improved by a mastopexy (lift) with creating a lower pole breast flap of tissue transposed under the rest of the breast mound and fixated to a non-mobile portion of the chest wall to provide upper pole fullness. In this situation the skin brazier is loose and has allowed the breast mound to sink inferiorly and requires and generous amount of skin to be removed and repositioned to be coincident with the newly shaped breast mound. For some women this may produce a nice result but particularly individuals who have a very long trunk with a great distance from the breast fold to the collar bone, creating the appearance of low set breasts, the above technique requires another means of providing upper pole fullness. Some women are comfortable with adding an augmentation with a breast implant to enhance shape and form and creating a nice upper pole roundness. Some surgeons are comfortable offering an augmentation at the same time as the mastopexy. Other surgeons would argue, based on data which has shown a 25% revision rate with the combined procedures, would prefer to stage these techniques. I personally like to perform the augmentation mastopexy in a single stage because I would rather have the implant in place to provide shape and volume to the overlying breast mound prior to tailoring the skin envelope of the lift procedure. I find this saves the patient a second general anesthesia, reduces expenses, and can be performed in the office setting with much less cost. Generally, it is only a minor skin re-tailoring to minimally reposition the nipple-areolar complex vertically on the breast mound.

Implants can provide structural shaping and volume enhancement of the breast mound but there are definitely limitations to their effect. Women who have structural limitations to their chest wall anatomy can have difficulty in achieving satisfactory results with implants alone. Individuals with very wide sternums and rapidly sloping chest walls cannot achieve meaningful cleavage with implants alone because the devise cannot be placed on the sternum. Another anatomic limitation eluded to in the above paragraph is the long chest wall with the accentuated length of the breast fold to collar bone giving the illusion of the low set breast. Even an anatomic shaped breast implant which is taller than it is wide still cannot mask this affect. In both of the above situations in which implants are chosen as the enhancer of choice the addition of fat grafting is necessary to create a much enhanced result. The beauty of fat grafting is that it can be placed in any position on the chest or breast. It can be similar to the concept of photo-shopping an image and allows the surgeon to truly sculpt the breast and chest wall to closer reflect an ideal form and helps to hide these difficult anatomic variants with your very own fat.

Other women may prefer to avoid implants all together and in consultation with their surgeon may choose to enhance the shape and volume of the breast mound and chest wall in conjunction with a mastopexy with just fat grafting lone without implants. Just as implants have limitations so does fat grafting. The current art and science of the techniques of autologous fat grafting has a yield of around seventy percent sustainable take of the viable fat implanted into the tissues. This has been reproducible shown over many series of papers presented in the literature. Since fat is a very soft material that cannot resist significant opposing forces of the skin it is difficult to globally enhance a breast mound much larger than a cup to a cup and a half sizes larger in one session. Therefore a women who has a large skin envelope and very limited breast mound volume and desires to have a very full shape should not consider enhancement solely with fat alone. A combined implant with fat grafting provides a much better and stable result. In my experience fat grafting alone is best to sculpt and shape the cleavage and upper poles of the breast and chest wall interface. It can enhance the overall volume by a cup size as well. The other nice advantage of fat grafting for breasts is it allows the removal of unwanted fat volume from places like the flanks, abdomen, and thighs to achieve improved breast shape and sculpting of the body contour.

If you feel self-conscious about the appearance of your breast and feel it is disproportionate to the rest of the body and how you feel about yourself, consult a board certified plastic surgeon to define your goals and options for rejuvenating your breasts.

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Eye-opening concepts.

admin : November 1, 2016 8:59 pm : Brow Lift, eyelid surgery

It has been said that the eyes are the windows to our souls. Certainly we often remember our friends and love-ones faces with the eyes playing a prominent role in facial identification. Unfortunately the aging process can strike this region relatively early leading to appearances that project fatigue, disinterest, and lack of vitality. Aging will result in skeletal changes around the eye, shrinkage of muscle and fat volume in the temples causing lateral brow descent, thinning and loss of elasticity of the skin of the eyelids, prominence of the fat pads of the upper and lower lids as a result of a weakening of the eye socket surrounding these structures, and in some cases the muscles that control upper eyelid position stretch or change leading to the upper eyelid drooping with respect to the pupil giving a sleepy appearance. All these symptoms of aging can hide the bright and vibrant person inside giving the false impression of a tired worn out individual. Take back the youthful appearance that is hidden under the veil of aging by consulting a board certified plastic surgeon who has expertise in eyelid and brow rejuvenation.

Brow

As with all anatomic areas deformities of the upper third of the face can span a wide range of severities. Many times women in their late thirties and early forties can show signs of early brow descent which can narrow the opening of the eye and brow skin resting on the upper eyelids. Many times in these milder forms of age and gravity related deformities we can correct with muscle balancing procedures utilizing neurotoxins such as Botox to weaken the depressors of the brow and allow unopposed brow elevators to prevail and elevate the resting tone of the brow.

Another targeted area to correct non-surgically, the brow position, is to restore volume to the temple region of the skull. This area in front of and superior to the ear and lateral to the brow represents the temporal fossa. This houses a large flat muscle that helps to elevate the jaw and is surrounded by soft tissue including fat and covered by hair bearing scalp tissue. Bony and muscle remodeling coupled with overlying fat shrinkage can lead to a hollowed out appearance which causes the brow to fall downward making the brow skin begin to cover the upper eyelid skin. Volume restoration can be accomplished with any number of filler agents but I prefer to correct the volume with a guided tissue regeneration product call Sculptra which is a polymer of lactic acid which promotes collagen deposition over time restoring volume and allowing the brow to be supported at a higher level compared to a depleted state.

As the brow tissue descends lower, further concealing the upper eyelid, the options narrow to surgical intervention. I prefer an endoscopic assisted brow lift over an open approach to avoid scars and hairline shifts. Just a few small openings spread out over the hairline allows for the complete release of the forehead and fixation internally to correct brow drooping leading to a pleasing brow position which looks natural without changing the hairline and allowing for improved visualization of the upper eyelid. In most cases the upper eyelid skin will require modification to give a harmonious smooth result. Errors such as trying to remove excess upper eyelid skin which includes excess brow tissue instead of performing a simultaneous brow lift will result in a poor result with very high eyelid crease scaring and the inability to close the eyelids resulting in dry eyes. Expertise in the aesthetic and functional evaluation of the upper third of the face is important.

Upper eyelid

The most common cause of excess upper eyelid skin is the underlying result of periodic eyelid swell causing excess thinning tissue. This can be addressed with conservative blepharoplasty techniques which can include some judicious fat removal. Of course a thorough exam to determine if the resting eyelid position with respect to the pupil is too low because not correcting the drooping of the upper lid will give a less than adequate rejuvenation because the patients eyes will still seem tired due to the lid lag.

Lower eyelid

Common aesthetic problems of the lower eyelid include excess skin, lack of lateral support of the lower eyelid giving a rounded eye appearance and excessive show of the whites of the eye ball, large fat pads with or without loose skin, increased separation of the eyelid cheek junction, and lastly crow’s feet. If skin quality is reasonable without excessive crepey skin and there is increase separation of the eyelid cheek junction then a conservative injection of a hyaluronic acid placed on the cheek bone under the muscle that closes the eyelids can smooth out the tear trough as well as build up the lateral eyesocket boney rim hiding some mild bulging of the lateral lower fat pad of the eyelid. This can create a Photoshop effect smoothing out the eyelid. Another conservative approach to helping the aging lower eyelid is to diminish activity of the lateral muscle that closes the eyelids with neurotoxins which can lead to a reduction in crow’s feet and can slightly help to elevate the lateral third of the brow.

Surgical interventions of the lower eyelid include judicious removal of the two lower eyelid fat pads through the inside of the lid with transposition of the fat on to the cheek to hide the tear trough, surgically removing excess skin from under the lash line vs skin tightening with a C02 Laser, lateral lid support to the bone enhancements with or without shortening the horizontal length of the lid. These procedures need to be selected based on clinical exam with the goal to provide a youthful eyelid with good support while avoiding excessive hollowing of the lower eyelids and poor lid support leading to rounded eyes and increased exposure of the eyeball.

The upper third of the face contains the aesthetic units of the brow, upper and lower eyelids and are a very unique region of our body for both special senses of vision, and provide our unique individuality of facial appearance. Aging can have a detrimental effect on both the aesthetics and function of this region which can bias people’s opinion of our vitality and mental sharpness. Non-surgical and surgical corrections can be important tools to correct these deformities restoring our appearance and giving back self confidence.

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