Call it the domino effect: When one area is improved upon, it’s human nature to notice what else might need fixing — just like when you’ve redecorated one room in your home, only to notice the neighboring one looks drab. It’s the same with your face. That’s why some surgeons are offering discounted or complimentary cosmetic treatments to their surgical patients.
“We can adjust the skin with surgery during a facelift, but we’re not improving the quality of it,” explains Grant Stevens, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Los Angeles and the medical director of Marina Plastic Surgery Associates in Marina Del Rey, California.
Facelifts treat two of the five ways that the face ages: gravity and loss of elasticity, explains Steve Pearlman, MD, FACS, a facial plastic surgeon specialist based in New York. “What a facelift can’t fix is loss of volume, skin changes and dynamic lines from overactive muscles.”
Here’s a look at the other three aging factors and what extra treatments may prove helpful after a facelift:
Improving Facial Volume
To improve the face’s volume, patients can have fat injections at the same time as facelift surgery, but may need post-surgery fillers, such as Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse or Sculptra to restore a more youthful fullness to the face, Dr. Pearlman says.
Evening Out Skin Changes
Redness, uneven skin tone and brown spots are common signs of aging. “As you age, the skin gets blotchy, and the superficial blood vessels open up just like tiny varicose veins. Also brown spots and irregular pigment appears,” says Pearlman.
For skin changes, lasers, such as the Fraxel laser and Cutera Excel, can help diminish the appearance of brown spots, remove wrinkles and encourage collagen growth for an all over glow and plumper, healthier skin, Dr. Stevens says. Chemical peels are also helpful.
Though it may seem counter-intuitive that wrinkles aren’t fixed by a facelift, that tends to be the case, Pearlman says. “Fine lines will disappear for a few months after a facelift, but they will reappear when the swelling fully goes away,” he says. “If the skin itself is wrinkled, deeper lines will go away with a facelift, but the inherent changes in the skin will not stay away without actually treating the skin with a muscle paralyzer like Botox or laser treatments.”
“Icing on the Cake”: Complimentary Treatments
For a more complete rejuvenation experience, Stevens’ patients who undergo an eye lift or a facelift are offered laser treatments post-surgery at no additional charge. “We call it the icing on the cake,” he says.
Pearlman offers his patients a $200 gift certificate for subsequent skin treatments, including lasers, Botox and fillers. “You spent a lot of time and money to look good, so why not maximize the result?” asks Pearlman. “Why let the skin continue to age after going through a facelift?” He also gives patients a goodie bag filled with skin care products. “Everyone beyond their mid-thirties should be on an anti-aging skin regimen; facelift patients more so to better show off their new look.”
And it’s not only facial plastic surgery patients who benefit from added attention and complimentary cosmetic treatments. For those patients who need extra care post-surgery or live alone, Michael Law, MD, in Raleigh, North Carolina, provides patients with complimentary overnight observation at the surgery center.
Many surgeons often partner with a spa or have an on-site spa for their patients and offer discounted treatments after surgery. In 2008, the International Medical Spa Association estimated there were approximately 2,000 medical spas.
To encourage their patients to maintain a healthy lifestyle, patients at the Azani Medical Spa in Bethlehem, PA, receive a one-month membership to the local L.A. Fitness gym.
“Clearly people who get plastic surgery want to look as good as they can,” says Stevens, “and these additional treatments are a way to make sure the results are as good as possible and last as long as possible.”