We’ve all seen the reality television programs showcasing extraordinary makeovers through cosmetic surgery, cosmetic dentistry, LASIK eye procedures along with personal trainers and stylists. Profiles of single moms who want to date again with pre-baby bodies or 50-somethings who look like 70-somethings until their makeovers are complete. Even women who already seem attractive participate because they feel their nose is too crooked, their breasts are too small or they have saddlebag thighs and bags under their eyes.
As we watch each episode unfold, the transformation is remarkable. Bumpy noses are straightened, stretch-marked and flabby tummies become flat, thighs become thinner and shapelier, facial lines and wrinkles disappear. It’s incredible what these women (and sometimes men) are willing to go through to make themselves look and feel beautiful, and in front of millions of people.
Most of the participants endure hours and hours of cosmetic surgery, having several procedures done at once. The results are amazing but are these extreme makeovers too good to be true and are they safe? Are we seeing the real story on “reality” TV? Would your neighborhood cosmetic surgeon be willing to do the same for you?
In the past, it was commonly accepted in the medical field that the longer a patient was under general anesthesia, the great the risk of complications. There was never any definitive data to support or disprove that belief until recently.
According to a Yale School of Medicine study, the rate of complications or death from cosmetic surgery is not linked to the length of time under general anesthesia. As reported in the January/February 2006 issue of Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, 1200 facial plastic surgery patients were studied. 1032 of the patients were under anesthesia for four or more hours and in most cases underwent multiple procedures. The rate of complication was no higher in the patients who had only one procedure and were under anesthesia for less than four hours.
Another study recently completed by California cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Grant Stevens, had similar results. Dr. Stevens, Director of Marina Plastic Surgery, studied complication rates in approximately 250 patients who underwent cosmetic surgeries in the last ten years to determine if “extreme” cosmetic surgery increased complication rates. Each of the patients received abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) surgeries. The groups were divided into those who had abdominoplasty only, abdominoplasty with breast surgery, abdominoplasty with facelift surgery, and abdominoplasty with both breast and face-lift surgery. His findings were remarkable – he determined no statistically significant increase in minor or major complications in patients who had multiple procedures at the same time.
Based on the available data, extreme makeovers can be safe in the hands of an experienced and board-certified cosmetic surgeon. If you’re interested in more than one procedure and think you’d like to have them performed at the same time, ask your cosmetic surgeon if you qualify medically for multiple procedures and if he feels comfortable performing them. You’ll want to be in good health mentally and physically before undergoing any type of cosmetic surgical procedure. If you decide to move forward, keep in mind that there are many benefits to multiple procedures:
- You will have your end results faster
- Your total recovery time will be shorter
- You can reduce the total time off from work or out of your everyday activities
- You’ll save money on both facility fees (if applicable) and anesthesia
So, extreme makeovers – greater risk or greater reward? For most, the reward is greater. What will it be for you?