All that Glitters is not Gold

Is ‘new’ the most dangerous word in the aesthetic’s industry? Product companies and less scrupulous practitioners compete to offer the latest, innovative cosmetic treatment in their quest to corner the market, but how is a patient able to decipher whether these procedures will work or, even more importantly, be safe.

At the least, these patients risk disappointment when the procedure fails to deliver on its claims, but sometimes they are gambling far more… their looks and even possibly their long-term health.

The scalpel versus the non-surgical

In recent years I have seen the rise of procedures which are deemed ‘minimally invasive’ and manufacturers and practitioners who provide these treatments argue their superiority to traditional surgical procedures, in terms of downtime and results.

Often, though, they are only suitable for a relatively narrow section of patients and many men and women would actually benefit far more from a surgical procedure, but because the practitioner is not qualified to perform cosmetic surgery, they offer the procedure regardless and patients are regularly left disappointed when expectations aren’t fulfilled.

More worrying than unfulfilled expectations though is when a product is launched to great fanfare, only to be speedily withdrawn after problems come to light. In the last five years, we’ve seen two injectable products hit the market – Macrolane for breast augmentation and Novabel for facial volumisation – that then had to be recalled by the product companies.

For my Leamington cosmetic surgery patients, I provide a number of non-surgical treatments, either as standalone procedures or as valuable adjuncts to a specific cosmetic surgery procedure, but I only offer treatments and products that I believe produce safe and effective results.

Tried and trusted products

Surgery is not always exempt from this drive for the new in terms of both product and procedure. In the late 1990s, Trilucent implants, which had a filling of soya bean oil, were offered to UK breast augmentation patients. The filling was less dense than silicone or saline so it was argued that they would interfere less with mammograms.

Within four years of these implants being on the market, the UK government was recommending that women have their Trilucent breast implants removed as a precautionary measure, due to concerns over the filling being possibly toxic.

Innovation is crucial but the job of the plastic surgeon is to balance this innovation with safety so it is not to the detriment of their patient.

In my Leamingon-based plastic surgery practice, I have always aimed to offer a choice of breast implant products that are safe and predictable and backed up by many years’ worth of clinical trials and safety checks, managing to avoid using any (cheap but unsafe) PIP implants on that basis, for instance. For more information on the surgical and non-surgical procedures I offer or to book a no-obligation assessment call my secretary Sally Bates on 01926 436341 to make an appointment.

A nice entry

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The True Cost of a Tan

Although enjoying the sun’s rays and achieving a golden glow can make us feel and look good temporarily, this love affair with the sun is definitely not reciprocated.

In my busy Warwickshire Plastic Surgery practice I see a range of patients who have learnt to their cost that tanning can leave them with an array of problems, from a few wrinkles to skin damage that is potentially far more serious.

Should I avoid sun exposure totally?

The body uses sunlight to manufacture vitamin D which is essential for our bone development as it helps us to absorb calcium and phosphorus from our food. The amount of time you need to spend in the sun for your skin to make the necessary amounts of vitmain D is actually very short – there is evidence that suggests it can be just ten minutes or so a day – so that doesn’t mean abandoning good sun practice of using a high factor sun protection on any exposed skin.

What does the sun do skin?

Although we associate a bronzed complexion with a healthy and fit outdoor lifestyle, that golden glow is actually damaging the skin in profound ways. In fact, the Elizabethans got it right as a pale complexion was highly valued then, as most contemporary portraits of Queen Elizabeth I demonstrate.

In the skin cells is a pigment called melanin that works to protect the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays – the ones that cause all the problems. Your skin tans because the body produces more melanin to combat this increased exposure to the sun and you lose your tan because of the normal cell turnover that occurs over time.

Sunburn occurs when the ultraviolet rays of the sun have penetrated the outer skin and down into deeper layers of the skin causing great damage to those skin cells.

The ageing effect of the sun

As well as affecting melanin production, the sun also damages two essential proteins found in the skin’s fibres called collagen and elastin. These two proteins are what give the skin its firmness, shape and elasticity and, as they deplete as a result of sun damage, the skin will begin to sag and stretch, causing fine lines and deeper folds, as well as a general lack of tone and texture in the skin.

The overproduction of melanin also reveals itself in the form of sun spots, freckles and areas of the pigmented skin which appear mottled and discoloured.

These changes might not be evident initially but even damage caused in childhood is just biding its time before it is revealed. At my Leamington-based Cosmetic Surgery practice, I see many patients in their fifties, forties and even thirties, seeking aesthetic treatments to combat this damage and I offer a wide range of surgical and non-surgical treatments that can improve the condition and appearance of the skin.

The danger of sun damage

However unpleasant a few lines or sun spots may be, they aren’t deadly, but sun damage can have a much more serious side. The development of pre-cancerous skin lesions (called actinic keratosis) and cancerous lesions – known as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanomas – occur when the body cannot repair damaged cells and they begin to grow out of control, forming tumours.

Much of my surgical career has been devoted to the surgical management of skin cancer and through three decades as a Consultant Plastic Surgeon I have worked with very many patients, both privately and in the NHS, in the treatment of skin cancer. For more information on the cosmetic treatments I offer privately or for a private skin cancer check or treatment, call my secretary Sally Bates on 01926 436341 to make an appointment.