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Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: Basic Information
What is facial plastic and reconstructive surgery?

Facial plastic surgery is a field of medicine devoted exclusively to cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the face, neck and head. Facial plastic surgeons are specifically trained to treat conditions such as aging, sagging skin, skin wrinkles and blemishes, acne or facial scars, precancerous and cancerous skin lesions and hair loss, in addition to the more commonly- thought of facial plastic procedures like facelift, rhinoplasty ("nose job"), blepharoplasty ("eyelid tuck"), dermabrasion ("skin sanding"), chin augmentation and facial laser and chemical peeling. Make sure your facial plastic surgeon is a member of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery; while some plastic surgeons operate on all parts of the body, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is the largest organization of surgeons devoted to the practice of facial plastic surgery.

What is minimally invasive facial plastic surgery?

Minimally invasive cosmetic facial surgery describes an approach to enhancing facial appearance while minimizing extensive surgery and recovery time. Endoscopic brow, face and neck lifts utilize small telescopes and specially designed instruments, avoiding long incisions and extensive surgery to rejuvenate the face. New lasers, such as the Erbium-YAG laser, allow for faster recovery than earlier skin resurfacing lasers. Biologic materials, such as collagen and other skin proteins, are now available in forms that can be easily injected or implanted in an office procedure to fill in wrinkles and folds or augment thin lips. Minimally invasive surgery is a concept based on tailoring treatment with advanced techniques and equipment for each patient in order to provide consistently excellent results and an early return to everyday life.

What is the best treatment for facial wrinkling?

It is important to distinguish facial wrinkles from skin folds. Skin folds are formed by the action of facial muscles on the skin. Facial wrinkles are textural changes of the skin that persist without active facial movement. A number of procedures are available for facial wrinkles; these include laser or chemical peeling, dermabrasion and collagen injections. A facelift generally does not treat wrinkles. Skin folds generally are more difficult to treat. Your facial plastic surgeon can help you determine the best procedure for you.

I have heard collagen injections can treat wrinkles, but the results do not last. What are they, and are they any good?

Collagen is the most common protein in the skin and gives it its firmness. Collagen can be injected into the skin, where it can "plump up" and soften wrinkles or deep facial folds; alternatively, it can be used for enhancing the appearance of the lips. Standard collagen injections use collagen purified from the skin of cows. Since there are subtle differences between human and cow collagen, cow collagen is progressively broken down by the body after it is injected into the skin.

The effects of cow collagen vary, but results typically last 2- 6 months. Several newer materials are now available, and consist of human collagen. Long-term studies are now being conducted by Anthony P. Sclafani, MD, FACS in the Division of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery; since human collagen should not be recognizedby the body as foreign material, results may be more long- lasting.

What will a facelift do for me?

A facelift is designed to reposition loose and sagging skin. It can be combined with facial liposuction to remove fat from the area under the chin and from jowls. It is not the best treatment for facial wrinkling, but can restore a refreshed and youthful appearance to a face with sagging and lax skin.

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