Less invasive procedures and more male patients are two trends in the rapidly growing plastic surgery specialty, say two of the state’s practitioners.
If the practice of plastic surgery seems to be increasing that’s because it definitely is says Mark H. Craig, MD, of Tupelo. He’s seen it grow in the 10 years he’s been practicing.
“Part of that is because people have more exposure to it with the reality TV shows and available Internet searches,” he says. “There’s more information out there. Patients come in very knowledgeable about what they want.”
F. Adair Blackledge, MD, of the Faces Clinic in Jackson says 95% of his practice is for cosmetic procedures. He believes the new technology allowing less invasive methods and shorter healing times is a big factor in the specialty’s growth. A laser procedure that used to put a patient out of commission a week and look like a bad sunburn is now remarkably better.
“The down times are decreasing. A person is able to get back to work quicker,” he said. “We’ve developed a procedure that can be done on Friday and patients can get back to work on Monday. That’s really popular among attorneys.”
He cites a local attorney who took off work to have the procedure done on Friday and was back at work on Monday and in court on Tuesday. The surgery, done in the office under a light anesthetic called twilight, is a short incision cheek lift.
“The best candidate for it is typically someone in their 50s who just needs a little bit of a lift,” he says. “It reverses the clock about seven years and lasts five to seven years.”
Blackledge, who only does faces, has been in his clinic five years. He says with humor, “I know what each profession likes. Lawyers like the cheek lift, botox is popular among bankers and Realtors do a lot of botox and surgery during Thanksgiving week. They say that’s a slow time for them, and we call it ‘Realtors’ week.’”
Fillers, especially the new product Juvaderm, are increasing in use because they are injected to fill in folds and lines on faces. The procedure can be done during lunch. In fact, Blackledge has started working during the traditional lunch hour for that reason.
“Botox in males is a huge new thing. More males are seeing that what’s good for their wives is good for them, too, and that contributes to the growth of plastic surgery,” he says. “Guys have figured it out. They make up 35% of plastic surgery in Mississippi. That’s amazing and ahead of the national average for males.”
Still, Mississippi is home to macho males so Blackledge does what he can to make those patients comfortable in his office. That includes providing male-oriented magazines and spacing out appointments for male patients so that a banker won’t be there at the same time as his lawyer.
Craig also applauds new technology that gives patients more choices for non-invasive procedures. “I think that contributes to the growing practice of cosmetic surgery,” he says. “We see a lot more people doing skin care and botox. They’re trying to prevent and reverse aging with the subtle changes that can be done in the office.”
He thinks this growth will continue as products and technology continue to advance. “I don’t see it slowing down,” he says. “We’ll see advances of fillers with longer-lasting products and fewer side effects. Smaller things that are non invasive will grow, too, things that can be done before having surgery.”
Plastic surgery will also grow among younger people, he says. However, he encourages younger people to consider that a 40-year-old won’t get the same dramatic results from a facelift as a 53-year-old.
Liposuction used to be the number one procedure done in his practice but now it’s mostly breast augmentation and tummy tucks, although this month he’s done a lot of breast lifts. A lot of breast reductions are done, too. Not surprising, most of his patients are women. In addition to elective surgery for breasts, Craig does a lot of reconstruction surgery for breast cancer patients.
“Cosmetic surgery is not covered by health insurance, and I don’t think it ever will be,” he says. “But, there’s a federal mandate that insurance carriers must cover reconstruction for breast cancer patients.”
He also performs surgeries for skin cancer and post-gastric bypass patients.
Both physicians stress the importance of patient counseling before any work is done.
“It’s very important to explain things and spend time with patients,” Craig says. “I see all cosmetic patients twice before surgeries, and they may talk to others in the office before talking to me. It’s a service-oriented practice.”
Blackledge sees patients three times if a dramatic procedure is to be done. “It’s important to me to talk to someone three times so they have realistic expectations and to build a rapport with them,” he says.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org.