Recently Allure Magazine published an article on what they see as the 11 most overrated cosmetic surgery procedures. Think of this as the opposite of David Letterman’s top ten lists. But, did Allure get it right? But let’s take a closer look.
1. The “Vampire” Facelift
Really? Are we still talking about this? This is a very cheeky name for injection of the protein rich plasma derived from the patient’s own blood added to traditional fillers. There’s no evidence that this does anything other than making the patient’s wallet lighter. Looks like Allure gets this one right.
2. Laser Liposuction
Laser Liposuction, aka “smart liposuction,” has been around for about six years. Its proponents claim that it will tighten skin as well as remove fat. It’s debatable as to whether there is any real skin tightening. While some studies have shown a small amount of tightening, it is not enough for most of us to even notice. However, there is also a limited amount of fat that can be removed with this due to the heat generation from the laser, which can lead to prolonged pain or even burns. This is definitely an overrated procedure which is no better (and possibly worse) than other techniques of liposuction. Allure gets this one right as well.
3. Stem-cell Facelift
There has been a lot of media attention regarding stem-cell facelifts. In fact, the New York Times wrote a very good article about it this week. I agree with Allure that this is an “over hyped” procedure. It involves changing the shape of the face with the transfer of fat which may contain some stem cells. There is no scientific evidence that the stem cells are doing anything at all. So, while stem cells hold a great deal of promise, there is no evidence that they do anything here.
4. Scupltra and Artefill for lips.
Don’t do it. I repeat, don’t do it. The use of Sculptra and Artefill has been plagued with lumps and nodules. These filler may have applications in other areas, but not in the lips. Like I said, don’t do it!
5. Silicone Cheek Implants
I will give Allure only partial credit on this. There are a number of cheek implants that have been very successfully used in the correct patients. But there have also been people who have overdone this look. When done subtly on the properly selected patient, cheek implants can be quite effective. In case you’re wondering, this is not an operation I currently do. But I know a number of plastic surgeons who do.
This supposedly effective method of ultrasound for skin tightening of the face is expensive, can be very painful and does not appear to work. Definitely overrated.
7. Fat injection for Breasts
This is an interesting topic that received a lot of attention at our meetings. This is a real operation that can give good results. But, it is not as easy as using breast implants, nor as versatile. There is a limit to how much fat can be injected in a single setting, and the breast skin needs to be stretched before the injection for the best results. Ultimately this will have a place in breast augmentation, but it is much more complicated than implants, and more expensive. So, partial credit to Allure.
8. Brachioplasty (Arm Lift)
Here, Allure is a bit off the mark. If people are looking for a little toning of the upper arm for minimally loose skin or excess fat, then certainly a brachioplasty is not for them, nor was this operation intended to be. On the other hand, this is a great procedure for people who have significant skin excess of the arms, particularly after massive weight loss. Last year’s statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons have shown a major increase in the number of arm lifts being done. There is a drawback: the scar. It will go from the axilla (armpit) to the elbow. But my patients have been very accepting of the scar and are pleased with the improved contour of the arm. Here are some photos of my patients who benefitted from a brachioplasty. This a good operation for the right patient. Not overrated, but not for everyone.
9. Butt Implants
I don’t do buttock implants, and probably never will. However, there are some surgeons who do this quite well. So I am not sure that is overrated or not. But clearly when done improperly or on the wrong type of patients, there can be problems. So, yes, probably overrated.
10. Zerona Fat Melting Laser
Definitely overrated. Next!
11. Foot Lifts
Really? I mean, really? Nobody in their right mind has unnecessary surgery on their feet. This is not only overrated, but stupid. And it can lead to real disability. Your toe cleavage looks great; leave it alone!
As you look over this list of procedures, there is definitely more than enough snake oil to go around. Procedures that are worth it will be widely accepted, have science on their side, and have true benefits with minimal risks. As new techniques and technologies emerge, I will continue to do my best to let you know what is for real and what is not.
Overall, Allure did pretty well on this. If I were grading them, I’d give them about a B+, or even an A-.
All the best,
David B. Reath, MD