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Cosmetic successes
Surgical procedures improve life, outlook

By JOANN PETASCHNICK

Many studies have shown that cosmetic surgery produces positive psychological benefits by improving patientsí perception of well-being. But a growing number of cosmetic procedures also can improve certain physical problems that detract from the quality of a personís life.

Eyes Have It

One of the first areas of the face to show age is the eyes, making the rest of the face appear older and tired looking. And, when eyelids droop, they can sometimes block the gaze and make vision difficult, according to Dr. Philip Sonderman of Greater Milwaukee Plastic Surgeons in Brookfield. "As people get older and their skin sags, the eyelids can hang down and make it difficult to keep the eyes open wide. We can correct that sagginess with blepharoplasty, which removes excess skin and pockets of fat from the upper and lower eyelids," he says. "Depending on the patient, this surgery may be covered by insurance."

Oftentimes, patients will combine blepharoplasty with a brow lift. Also known as a forehead lift, a brow lift can minimize the creases that develop across the forehead or those that occur high on the bridge of the nose. It improves what are commonly referred to as frown lines and repositions a sagging brow.

Dr. Andrew Campbell of Quintessa Medical Spa in Mequon is one of a handful of cosmetic surgeons in the United States who has been using a new technique called Ultherapy to perform brow lifts. "Ultherapy is the only noninvasive, nonsurgical device that has ever been given the FDAís approval for brow lifting. It uses focused ultrasound energy, much like the ultrasound waves used for other ultrasound procedures," he says.

"Ultherapy heats up the tissue and triggers the bodyís natural healing response, which results in new and improved collagen support and gradual firming and actual lifting of skin tissue over time, creating a more open look around the eyes and a more refreshed look overall," Campbell says. "There is no down time, no surgery and eight of 10 patients get a positive response after about three months."

Kinder, Gentler Lipo

"As we get into our middle years ó the 40s and beyond ó the metabolism slows down, and no matter how hard we exercise or push ourselves, certain parts of our bodies just wonít respond the way they once did. A lot of people get discouraged and perhaps stop doing things they might otherwise do," says Dr. Anthony Krausen of The Skin Center in Milwaukee.

To help people get rid of this otherwise immovable flab, Krausen uses a new liposuction technique called body jet liposuction. Itís different from conventional liposuction procedures because of the way the fat is suctioned out of the body. "The openings used for suctioning are about the size of half a grain of rice. We use a very small canula and small amounts of water," he explains.

The fatty deposits are broken down quickly and efficiently. The process causes much less swelling and discomfort and can be performed under local anesthetic. "It is a much gentler procedure. The results are significant and few patients have extensive bruising or discomfort immediately after the procedure," Krausen says. "We can really sculpt and refine body parts, and there is only about 48 hours of downtime."

Mammaplasty

Neck, shoulder and back discomfort can be the result of very large breasts. And it may create self-esteem issues and affect a womanís ability to participate in physical activities, says Dr. James White of Brookfield. "Very large breasts can cause major imbalance, grooving in the shoulders from the constant pull of bra straps, as well as skin irritation under the breasts," according to White, who recently retired after 30 years in practice as a plastic and cosmetic surgeon.

"Breast reduction surgery, also known as reduction mammaplasty, can be done to remove excess fat, tissue and skin from the breasts to achieve a breast size in proportion to a personís height and weight," White says. "Women who have breast reduction surgery are some of the happiest patients because they experience such positive results," he says.

Closing the Gap

By performing procedures that give people a new or renewed sense of self-confidence, cosmetic surgeons have the opportunity to help provide patients with a better quality of life, says Dr. N. John Yousif of Asthetic and Reconstructive Surgery Associates in Mequon. "One surgery that often yields a big change in peoplesí lives is facial rejuvenation. I am always surprised at how a patientís attitude improves," he says, noting that the face must look natural.

"People tend to act the way they look. I have often said that when the inner self remains young and strong and the outer surface begins to age, that disparity can lead some people to seek correction. We as plastic surgeons seek to close that discrepancy between the surface and the soul. That is what we are hoping to do," he says.

Braces Myths Debunked

Dental braces, used to align and position the teeth, can correct an under bite, overbite, crowded teeth and various other flaws. Braces date back to the early 20th century to a dentist named J. N. Farrar, often called the Father of Modern Orthodontia. A lot has changed since Dr. Farrarís time, but some misconceptions remain.

1. Braces are painful. Not so, says Dr. Kevin T. Race of Bohl and Race Orthodontics in Brookfield and Mukwonago. "Most patients report a little discomfort or achiness that lasts two to five days after their braces are adjusted. They may have to eat a softer diet and perhaps take some Advil or Ibuprofen," he says.

2. Only braces can straighten my teeth. Not necessarily. New technology has made it possible to have straight teeth without braces. Invisalign braces are a very popular way to straighten teeth, according to Dr. Matt Smith of Stone Ridge Dental in Pewaukee. "Invisalign is a series of invisible removable tooth aligners worn for two weeks at a time. They usually work best on people who have some tooth crowding or mild misalignment," Smith says. "Not everyone is a good candidate for Invisalign. If there is a severe degree of rotation of the teeth, there is better correction with regular braces and wire brackets. Of course, every orthodontist will have his or her own opinion," he says.

3. If I wear braces, I canít participate in activities. Yes, you can, says Race. You can be active in sports, play a musical instrument or take up kung fu. "There is no reason to limit activities. Braces donít get in the way when playing sports, however, we do suggest wearing a mouth guard to avoid injuring the inside of the mouth," he says. "Braces should not prevent anyone from playing a musical instrument."

4. When my braces are removed, my teeth will remain straight. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. "After braces are removed, keeping teeth straight requires some effort. After the teeth are moved into their new straightened positions with braces, some of them will want to return to their original position. That is why retainers are required," Race says. But retainers are not like the old metal and rubber band devices of years ago. "Now clear shell retainers have replaced the wire style," he says.