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Todays Top Surgical Procedures

Parker Center for Plastic Surgery, New Jersey

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Quest for Perfection: Today’s top surgical procedures and picking the doc to do them

Angelina Jolie’s lips. Brad Pitt’s nose. Nicole Kidman’s cheeks. Such modern pillars of magnificence are easily achieved with an artful nip/tuck from a skillful M.D.

In fact, a quarter of those who opt for plastic surgery request celebrity features, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. And let’s not forget the quintessential beach body, seen on New Jersey’s finest beaches each summer.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, nearly 11 .5 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in the United States in 2006. With so many opting for procedures, what qualities should your doctor possess and which surgical procedure is right for you?

“The primary focus would be experience, technical expertise, and superlative aesthetic judgment,” says Paul M. Figlia, M.D., a plastic surgeon with offices in West Orange and Edison. “Make sure that the plastic surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. In addition, the plastic surgeon should be a member of multiple national societies, including the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and the American Aesthetic Society of Plastic Surgeons.”

Mokhtar Asaadi, M.D., of Asaadi Plastic Surgery in West Orange says proficiency and technology are paramount in enticing and maintaining a robust clientele. “Considering today’s prospective cosmetic patient is very knowledgeable and educated about the current trends and procedures in plastic surgery because of the Internet and other sources, it is crucial (for a physician) to have a comprehensive website with a list of credentials, procedures performed, and most importantly before-and-after photos,” he adds.

GET THE LOOK

“It is wonderful that patients are so knowledgeable and have trained themselves to have a discerning eye and the desire to attain what has become the norm for aesthetic beauty,” Dr. Figlia says, “Patients are becoming more aware of cosmetic surgery through television as well as magazines.”

Most patients just want to look healthy and feel young. Dr. Asaadi adds, “People are paying particular attention to their face and lips. At the same time, they do not like the ‘operated’ look of certain celebrities, especially those who had facial, eyelid, and nasal surgeries that completely altered their appearance.”

So, just how much superstar replication is too much in plastic surgery? According to Paul M. Parker, M.D., of the Parker Center for Plastic Surgery in Paramus, the assessment starts with a photograph. “Patients will sometimes bring pictures of stars with them to pre-op consultations. I’ll use them for discussion to point out what is similar and different between the star and the patient. It allows me to be realistic with the patient in terms of what can and cannot be achieved.”

Reza Momeni, M.D., of the Plastic Surgery Center at Summit Medical Group, Berkeley Heights, notes that operations such as breast enhancement and rhinoplasty, where the results tend to be visible, draw more celebrity inspiration than others. “In some cases, what they are asking for is possible, and we respect their preferences. In other cases, the results they seek may be aesthetically incongruent with their facial or body structure, or it may not be technically or surgically possible. It’s our ethical duty in such cases to counsel them, go over the possibilities, and guide them in making good choices.”

Martha S. Matthews, M.D., chief of plastic surgery at Cooper University Hospital in Cherry Hill, says, “If a woman brings me a photo of a celebrity who is clearly 25 years younger than her, and says she wants to look like that, we’ll have a conversation about how I can help her to look better and younger, but it is not realistic to expect to look 25 when one is 50, no matter how good the plastic surgery.”

SPACE AND TIME

Certain parts of the body could use more attention as people age. For example, the face is the most exposed part of the body and always the first thing people notice, Dr. Asaadi says. Facial rejuvenation services at his office include face lifts, forehead lifts, eyelid surgery, ear reshaping, and facial implants.

Richard A. D’Amico, M.D., a plastic surgeon in Englewood, notes that some areas sometimes show age earlier than others—typically the eyes and the neck. In the body, the breasts tend to sag over time with loss of volume after childbirth, which also affects abdominal muscles. Fat tends to accumulate in certain areas, in both women and in men, despite diet and exercise efforts.

People know when it’s time to seek a little help from the doctor, Dr. Matthews says. Women in their 20s often seek breast augmentation, liposuction, and rhinoplasty, she says. Women in their 30s, many of whom have given birth, want to get back the body they used to have. Liposuction, abdominoplasty, and breast augmentation are popular with them. When in their 40s, women opt for Botox and fillers, graduating to eyelid surgery and then face lifts.

GRADING ON THE CURVE

The bust and the belly are getting the most attention in plastic surgery this year, according to New Jersey plastic surgeons. Breast augmentation is popular because newer silicone implants don’t generate as much trepidation as previous types, according to Dr. Asaadi. In 2006, breast augmentation was the most common cosmetic surgery procedure performed by plastic surgeons in the U.S., he notes. For the first time, the number of augmentations exceeded the number of liposuction procedures.

Why the increase? “Post-bariatric and weight-loss surgery is increasing in response to the challenges of dealing with significant excess skin after marked weight loss,” says Dr. Parker. The next big thing in the business is smart liposuction, says Dr. Figlia, a procedure using laser light to aid with the process. It is said to offer less downtime and side effects than traditional liposuction.

For Garden State women, the “mommy makeover” is a hot new procedure, Dr. Momeni says. After pregnancy, in their 30s and 40s, many active moms experience changes in the shape of their breasts and abdomen. The procedures geared toward regaining a youthful shape involve “fixing” the breasts, tummy, flanks, and thighs.

Multi-tasking women arc also coveting mini-face lifts as a panacea to saggy weathered skin, Dr. Matthews says. “People arc increasingly interested in smaller procedures that don’t necessarily have as dramatic result, but have less downtime,” she says. “Mini face lifts have become more popular in my practice. They arc not for everyone, and certainly don’t replace the full face lift, but they provide a freshening with much less recovery.”

Then there is the other end of the spectrum with patients opting to take some time and go for a major overhaul, just like on television. “Ten years ago full lower-body lifts were almost never done,” says Matthews. “But there is much more demand lately, along with arm lifts, particularly among massive-weight-loss patients.”

The next big thing in surgery may not even be surgery; according to Farrokh Shafaie, M.D., of the Med Fern Aesthetic Center in Summit. The wave of the future involves nonsurgical face lifts using Sculptra, an injectable gel, along with skin-tightening lasers, Shafaie says.

PROACTIVE MAINTENANCE

After surgery, doctors recommend a variety of products to prep the skin and aid in recovery. Dr. Asaadi carries the Skinceuticals and M.D. Forte skin care lines of cleansers, toners, sunscreens, and serums. He also sells fish oil supplements and MonaVie, an antioxidant beverage.

“There are many excellent products on the market, both in and out of doctor’s offices,” Dr. Matthews says. “Many patients appreciate advice in products that may help them to achieve better skin. If your skin looks healthy, your whole appearance improves.”

WRITTEN BY MELISSA MEISEL, STAFF WRITER FOR NJ LIFE