Restore, Rejuvenate, Enhance, Improve
If you’re not happy with your body, your nose has always bugged you or those wrinkles are making you sad, join the club.
By CECILE S. HOLMES
Plastic surgery is on the rise across the nation and in South Carolina. From tummy tucks to Botox to liposuction, even men and women are getting in line to achieve the face or body of their dreams.
“In fact, the largest number of plastic surgeons per capita isn’t in Hollywood. It’s in Salt Lake City, Utah. I couldn’t believe it, “ says Dr. Gary Culbertson, a Sumter plastic surgeon and past president of the South Carolina Society of Plastic Surgeons. He is also a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgery, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and a diplomat for the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
“I like to think of what we do as kind of like the specialized contractor you call to fix the house,” Culbertson says. “We restore, rejuvenate, enhance and improve the appearance of the individual.”
While men still fall behind women in the number of cosmetic procedures and plastic surgeries performed nationwide, plastic or cosmetic surgery for men is much more common now than it was just a few years ago. Men may enter the plastic surgery arena at the encouragement of their significant others or while they are undergoing a difficult life transition such as a divorce.
Men are now requesting a variety of cosmetic procedures. In the U.S. in 2012, men numbered nine percent of all cosmetic procedures. That’s a 121 percent increase over 1997.
Topping the list in popularity of cosmetic procedures for men, according to one medical source, are liposuction, rhinoplasty (nose jobs), eyelid surgery, gynecomastia (the removal of excess breast tissue) and ear reshaping.
“Nationally there has been an increase in the number of men pursuing procedures. That also includes noninvasive procedures: Botox, lasers to the face,” Culbertson says.
“Remember that plastic surgery has two largest branches or wings,” he says. “One is reconstructive surgery or rebuilding an individual. In such cases, we’re most concerned about closing the wound, maintaining the function. Our last concern is the appearance.
“The second wing is aesthetic or cosmetic surgery. This is surgery that is not medically necessary. It restores or improves the appearance of a normal individual. Someone comes to you who has aged, or they may have been a model.”
In a sense, the goals are different when it comes to rejuvenation. Physicians are seeking to help patients gain confidence and look younger and refreshed. Especially with men, plastic surgeons strive for subtlety and for keeping the results natural looking.
Once middle-aged men went to plastic surgeons seeking liposuction to get rid of the paunch or spare tire they’d put on over the years. Nowadays, however, young men come in for more high definition liposuction, the kind of body sculpting that lends itself to an abdominal six-pack.
As patients’ desires and demands change, plastic surgeons are keeping up. Ragan Communications and PR Daily, producers of the ACE awards (Awarding Communication Excellence), has named The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) winner of the 2013 award for its effort in changing perceptions of the plastic surgery industry using social media. The ACE Award honors individuals, agencies and in-house teams who have used communication to overcome obstacles.
The society even created its own special guide for consumers looking for “accurate, unbiased information” on various aspects of plastic surgery. (The information is accessible by typing Smart Beauty Guide into a browser, tablet or smart phone.)
The service took two years to develop. Aesthetic surgeons created it to serve as the consumer face of the society for their patients. Smart Beauty Guide showcases basic medical information from plastic surgeons, in addition to tool kits, product giveaways, and well known bloggers offering their take on plastic surgery. It also provides question-and-answer snippets on various procedures and details on new trends in plastic surgery.
“Our new Smart Beauty Guide demonstrates not only our commitment to providing consumers with a real and unbiased source of knowledge but also goes a long way to ensure that everyone has the information they need to make informed and safe decisions,” Dr. Jack Fisher, the society’s president, says on the group’s website (www.surgery.org).
Trends in plastic surgery for men and women in South Carolina follow national trends though the Palmetto State tends to be a little more conservative, according to Culbertson, the Sumter plastic surgeon.
“As you get toward Charlotte, you’re going to see a little bit more of an uptick (in such surgeries) because there will be more disposable income, “ he says.
“And, when you’re down along the coast, there tends to be a bit more cosmetic surgery,” says Culbertson. “Again, there tends to be more disposable income. Charleston is kind of artsy and patients in the region seem to have more aesthetic surgery.”
Like his counterparts in other regions, Culbertson views himself as a patient advocate. For example, plastic surgeons worked hard to establish laws to for safer ambulatory (outpatient) surgery and pushed for health insurance companies to cover breast reconstruction in SC for women who have had breast cancer long before the national mandate.
“It makes sense,” he says. “If you have surgery for breast cancer, why not start on the road to reconstruction. It’s psychologically important to the woman.”
Choose a surgeon you can trust
Plastic surgery involves many choices. The first and most important is selecting a surgeon you can trust.
Choosing an ASPS Member Surgeon ensures that you have selected a physician who:
Has completed at least five years of surgical training with a minimum of two years in plastic surgery.
Is trained and experienced in all plastic surgery procedures, including breast, body, face and reconstruction.
Operates only in accredited medical facilities
Adheres to a strict code of ethics.
Fulfills continuing medical education requirements, including standards and innovations in patient safety.
Is board certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or in Canada by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada®.
Courtesy American Society of Plastic Surgeons
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery urges patients ask themselves three questions before submitting to plastic surgery. (www.surgery.org)
Is this really what I want? Unless you're getting reconstructive or reparative plastic surgery, you're likely considering a cosmetic procedure. Thousands of people book aesthetic surgeries every year, but before you join their ranks, make sure you actually want the procedure. If you feel like you're being pushed into the decision to get a breast augmentation or tummy tuck by a significant other, family member or friend, it's time to pump the brakes. Though you can certainly ask your loved ones for their input, the decision to go under the knife should be yours and yours alone.
Have I considered all of my options? It's not uncommon for patients to get their hearts set on a certain procedure, but sometimes, there may be plastic surgeries that you aren't aware of that could better help you achieve your goals. For example, you may come to your cosmetic surgeon saying you want a tummy tuck to help you lose weight, not realizing that tummy tucks are actually about tightening skin, not shedding unwanted pounds (although liposuction may be a good alternative.)
Have I found a qualified plastic surgeon? Imagine you're on your way to the emergency room with a broken arm. As you get out of the ambulance, someone approaches you and says they can fix your broken arm for a much better price if you'll go back to their office. Most people would say, "No way!" That's exactly how you should react to individuals who try to offer you discount plastic surgery. Before you agree to go under the knife, you must have evidence of your cosmetic surgeon's training and board certification. Don't be afraid to ask about it during your consultation - if your doctor is qualified, he or she will have no issue showing you proof. Should an aesthetic surgeon refuse to answer your inquiries, it's time to move on to a more qualified individual. www.garyculbertson.com