To Tuck or Not To Tuck

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Local nurse and mom of 8 shares her decision to have a tummy tuck.

By Linda Hankemeier

As the mom of eight, Tere (pronounced “Terri”) knows what it means to work hard to get her figure back after childbirth. However, after her last pregnancy — giving birth to triplets at age 51 — the exercise and diet that had worked so well after her earlier pregnancies wasn’t successful in getting “everything” back to normal this last time.

“I had triplets, which included a C-section. But even with the demands on my body, I was able to restart my exercise routine and managed to get back down to my prepregnancy weight,” Tere shared. “But, even with reaching that goal, I was still surprised that my midsection never went back to normal. The excess skin in my stomach wasn’t going anywhere.”

As all eight of her children grew, Tere continued her active lifestyle and her healthy habits such as exercise and proper diet. But, her midsection never seemed to change. Ten years later, her stomach looked pretty much like it did six months after her last delivery. And the extra weight around her midsection made it difficult for her to run, try on clothing, and maintain the active life she wanted. “I wasn’t worried about having the perfect body or making a spouse happy, as my husband loved me just as I was,” Tere commented. “This surgery was about getting my life back to normal.”

Realizing the shape of her stomach was beyond her control, Tere made the decision to look at medical options. She began researching abdominoplasty, more commonly called a “tummy tuck,” and met with one of the board-certified plastic surgeons of Twin City Plastic Surgery.

As a nurse, Tere was an informed patient. She researched types of procedures, consequences, and recovery times, and had many questions for the doctor and staff that were specific to her health and medical situation. “The number one question on my mind regarding any surgery was risk versus benefit, especially at my age.” Tere shared. “After all, I have eight kids and a husband. I needed to know my options, weigh the pros and cons, and make an informed decision.”

Twin City Plastic Surgery’s doctor and staff worked closely with Tere discussing in depth the surgical procedure itself, the process, recovery, and even recommended to Tere different possible procedures to address her concerns. In the end, she decided the tummy tuck and muscle wall repair would give her the results she wanted, and her surgeon confirmed she was a great candidate for the procedure. She was physically strong and maintained a healthy lifestyle, so a tummy tuck would be a great way to remove the excess skin and fat and return her to the active lifestyle she had prior, which was greatly needed as her triplets were nearing the preteen years.

Even her recovery went well. “Prior to surgery, I spent time exercising my legs to be stronger. Two days after surgery I was up walking, but careful. I walked bent over for about two weeks to make sure I didn’t pull any stomach muscles or loosen my stitches.”

As a part of her procedure, a pain pump tube was inserted in Tere’s stomach along the incision area. The pump provided her round-the-clock pain management. At times the pain was a little more severe, but she was able to manage it with oral pain medication. Within the first week, she found that extra strength over-the-counter pain medication successfully managed the pain. Within two weeks of surgery, she started working part-time again, and could comfortably walk, sit, and drive a car.

Tere resumed her normal exercise routine about two to three months post-surgery, starting first with walking and biking. Six months after her tummy tuck, Tere completed a 100-mile bike ride and was feeling fit again.

One year after her surgery, Tere said she feels amazing. Her stomach is hard and toned, with no lingering side effects of the surgery. Even her scar is hardly noticeable. “I’m so thankful I had a tummy tuck,” Tere shared. “I feel like my stomach is back to normal. But, more importantly, my life is back to normal.”

Scars and the Art of Plastic Surgery

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A scar is nature’s thread, mending broken or cut skin with a waterproof closure. A skin cut initiates a complex inflammatory process designed to manufacture that thread. Like a skilled army, specialized cells lay down a clot to stop the bleeding, while wound-healing chemicals flow to the rescue. One of those chemicals is histamine.

Histamine stretches out a blood vessel like a stocking, opening up little holes to allow special healing cells to leak out. You might be familiar with a certain side effect: Histamine can make scars itch.

Collagen-producing cells go to work like a garment factory, knitting the wound closed. Just as the factory needs electricity to run, those cells need extra energy and oxygen.

In the lungs, red blood cells load up oxygen like cargo boats, and they float down the blood vessels, handing out oxygen where it’s needed. For a wound to heal, however, the limited network of blood vessels isn’t sufficient to supply enough oxygen.

What’s a body to do?

How about… grow more blood vessels? And that’s exactly what happens. The body creates more capillaries to bring more oxygen-rich blood. The red blood inside the capillaries flows just below the scar’s surface. The result is sort of like… a blush.

That’s why scars are pink.

In the final phase of scar-making, the disorganized, heaped-up, young collagen reorganizes into its flat, mature form. (It’s like seeing a teenager grow up.)

Once the job is done, the extra capillaries are no longer needed, so they disappear, slinking off without a trace.

That’s why scars fade.

The ideal scar is thin, flat, and asymptomatic, but that takes time, up two years. (Some scars take even longer to grow up, just like some humans.)
So how do you get a ‘star’ scar?

Plastic surgeons create scars every time they cut skin. Part of the art of plastic surgery consists of hiding incisions—in folds, within hair, and along contour changes. But those incisions leave scars. (Plastic surgeons aren’t magicians.)

It’s natural for patients to hope for a perfect scar: thin, flat, and white, but not everyone heals that way. Factors that affect scarring include:

1. Genetics: You inherit your scar-forming qualities from your parents.
2. Tension: An incision closed under tension is more likely to be thick, raised, and wide.
3. Location and type of skin: Eyelid scars are typically better than back or chest scars.
4. Age: Children are more likely to develop thick scars between the ages of 8 and 16, while older people with thin skin are more likely to form fine scars.
5. Wound condition: Shredded skin edges are more likely to cause thick scars than cleanly cut ones.
6. Proper closure: Surgical technique can impact the result, though the best technique won’t overcome other factors.
7. Blood supply: Factors such as smoking can result in death of skin, leading to delayed healing, a wider scar, and the need for surgery to close the wound.
8. Infection: A wound infection can disrupt the wound and lead to a wider scar.
9. Poor diet: Inadequate nutrition can delay healing and result in opening of the wound.
10. Health: Medications, medical conditions, and previous radiation can affect wound healing, so share your medical history with your doctor.

And that’s the story of scar formation.

It’s really sort of magical if you think about it!

Potential patients may be concerned about scars after plastic surgery. Though no one can predict how an individual will heal, one’s parents’ and siblings’ scars can give an idea of inherited scarring potential. Patients can improve their chances of good scars by being honest with their doctors about their medical histories and finding an ABPS board-certified plastic surgeon trained to minimize and/or hide scarring. The chances are they’ll be pleased with the results.

Lip Enhancement at Any Age

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Written by: Mary Cunningham

Lips are the most sensual place on the face. Sure, bat your lashes all you want, but the lips can pout, entice, and excite… all at once.

The team over at New Beauty did a deep dive into what lip enhancement looks like at every age. Subtle enhancements with nonsurgical treatments can make a significant and positive change to one’s overall look.

If your lips have never been as alluring as you’d like (or aren’t what they once were), here are the best lip enhancement treatments to maintain that youthful pout at any age.

20s: What’s happening: Lip enhancements in your more youthful years seek to remedy natural asymmetry, too-thin lips or that look that can happen when the corners droop down. Thankfully fillers (like Juvederm and Restylane) can be used to address any of these issues.

30s: The body’s loss of collagen and elastin, and years of drying sun exposure contributes to wrinkles on and around the lips. Again, fillers here can be used to gently alleviate these concerns. Since youthful lips require fairly little enhancement to get them back on track, it’s key to work with a doctor who uses fillers judiciously. We’ve all seen bad examples where too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Do I really need to cite any celebrity examples here? I don’t think so.

While enhancements in our 20s and 30s are focused on correcting that which nature did not naturally bestow upon us, the focus of enhancements in our 40s, 50s, and beyond is to restore to our previously youthful appearance.

40s: With that in mind, in our 40s treatments are used to counteract even MORE drying and thinning. (Mother Nature, man – she just doesn’t stop.) Laugh lines have become more pronounced, etching grooves into the skin around the lips. And the lip shape itself, as well as areas around the lips, begins to change structurally. The corners of the mouth may become weaker, drawing the mouth — and likely the overall facial expression — down into a frown. Fillers will, well, fill in wrinkles to counteract the appearance of aging and bring fullness back to the other areas surrounding the lips as well.

50s: Overall changes to your entire visage may be morphing the lips even more. So much to look forward to, right? The lack of elasticity in the skin due to the loss of collagen and elastin and incremental drooping that starts mid-face can extend the space between the nose and lips meaning that, with time, the lips themselves have dropped a bit. {Shakes fist at Mother Nature and genetics}.

According to the New Beauty article, doctors can carefully and elegantly use a mix of fillers and neurotoxins to recreate the curve at top of the lip (AKA Cupid’s bow) and the vertical columns that run from the base of the nose to the top points of the lips, restoring the youthfulness of yore.

60s and Beyond: At this stage, an aesthetic professional will continue reconstructing key areas, including restoring the fullness of the lips and facial structures around the mouth. The same advice holds true in your 60s as your 20s: Trust your enhancements to a doctor who is on the same page as you in terms of your desired look. Remember too much filler alters your facial anatomy instead of enhancing you.

In your 50s, 60s and beyond, plastic surgeons can offer more than fillers and neurotoxins –they can offer fat grafting during simultaneous facial rejuvenation procedures. No matter what stage you find yourself in, find a trusted professional to consult with on the solution that suits your face, and your cosmetic goals. Board-certified plastic surgeons like Dr. Laura Randolph who are members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery have the knowledge and years of experience performing these lip-enhancing/rejuvenation procedures.

Our bodies are in a constant state of change. That we can’t control. But whether we’re searching for the perfect lips we once had, or never had in the first place, nonsurgical solutions are as easy as the next visit to the office of a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS).

Plastic Surgery and the Social Media Effect

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Written by Nancy Weinberg Simon

I was once on the cover of a national magazine. It was in the early days of Photoshop and the magazine I was working for at the time didn’t like the way the celebrity looked in her cover images so the creative director took a photo of me, put the celebrity’s head on my body and voila, problem solved. Except it created a whole slew of new problems. The celebrity and the photographer were insulted, we got numerous calls from media outlets with strict instructions from our own higher-ups not to discuss this matter with anyone and the images ended up on a celebrity news show anyway.

I too was less than delighted. If I’d wanted to work in front of the camera, I wouldn’t have chosen to be working so hard behind the scenes. This was way before social media and the current situation we have where virtually everyone is more than willing to put themselves out there and be the director and star of their own social network. Social media is like The Truman Show come to life, except “the stars of the show” (almost all of us!) are doing the documenting. Though it happens in the more “mature” generations too — hey, I’m not so willing to put an unflattering shot of myself out there — millennials in particular are even more affected by this phenomena. It might be due to the fact that they’re the first generation that has been able to capture every moment for immediate sharing. Unfortunately this constant keeping up with social media or fall behind in the social circle has a bigger downside than just lots of wasted, unproductive time and a lack of in-person social skills. There has also been a huge upswing in plastic surgery requests as a result of how people want to present themselves on their social media accounts. When they’re posting and instagramming and snapchatting they feel they must look their absolute best doing it…and photo-shop just isn’t cutting it for many.

Because social media centers around photos and video, and the atmosphere of the entire social media world is therefore extremely visual, these sites have become a driving force behind aesthetic cosmetic procedures like rhinoplasty, otoplasty, Botox and fillers. People scrutinize their own photos looking for perceived flaws. Selfies force them to be way more self-critical than they ever would have been and it can make them feel less confident about their looks so they’re more willing to go under the knife or get an injection to change that.

If someone is really unhappy with their looks, they need to ask themselves why they feel that way and consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Laura Randolph that can help them decide if plastic surgery or any aesthetic procedure is the right choice for them. In certain circumstances, the surgeon might actually refer them to a psychiatrist because the patient might have perceived flaws that aren’t there, or extremely unrealistic expectations. In addition, not all patients are good candidates for the procedure(s) they seek. This is why board-certified plastic surgeons are trained to determine which procedures will best suit a particular patient’s needs, or advise them not to go under the knife if they feel it is truly unnecessary and won’t produce a satisfactory result for anyone involved.

Call Dr. Randolph (309) 664-6222 for a consultation. Contact Us

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