Ask The Surgeon

I'm afraid of pain. Does facial plastic surgery hurt?

The surgery itself is relatively painless. Generally, it is done with local anesthesia combined with oral or intravenous sedatives, inducing a state known as "twilight sleep." Most patients feel nothing during the surgery and are only dimly aware of what is being done to them. General anesthesia may be used in some cases; if you have special concerns, you should discuss them with your surgeon.

After the surgery, pain is usually easily controlled with a mild pain medicine.

Most facial plastic surgery patients report only mild post-operative discomfort. In a survey conducted by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, only 27 percent of patients reported feeling pain.

Beauty Tip

Planning to enjoy the great outdoors this winter? Whether your plans include skiing in a snowbound area or sunbathing in a subtropical locale, be sure to take a few simple precautions to protect your facial skin from sun and wind damage.

Sunscreen is not just for the summer. Winter rays also carry damaging UV radiation, so be sure to pack sunscreen when planning for wintertime outdoor fun. Don't forget your lips-apply a protective lip balm or use lipstick that contains sunscreen.

Snow, sand, and water all reflect the sun's rays, increasing their intensity-and the damage they can do to your skin. What's more, continual squinting will speed the formation of lines and wrinkles around your eyes. Protective sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat or visor are an important part of a good skin care regimen for the winter.

Finally, be sure to moisturize your skin, both inside and out. Drink plenty of water, especially during active sports, to ensure your skin receives an adequate supply of inner moisture. Smooth on a generous amount of moisturizing lotion and sunscreen before going outside to protect your skin from the drying and damaging effects of sun and wind. Reapply sunscreen throughout the day, and conclude your day in the sun by applying a moisture-rich night cream to replenish your skin.

What's New?

Spider veins, broken capillaries, and other facial blemishes caused by abnormal blood vessels now may be treated effectively with a specialized type of laser device that can actually pass through the skin without harming it.

Laser beams are generated by passing amplified light through a gas-filled tube. The gas used determines the color and properties of the resulting laser beam. The CO2 laser, for example, vaporizes the top layer of the skin, making it ideal for skin resurfacing procedures. To treat blemishes beneath the skin, facial plastic surgeons may use a device called a pulsed dye laser, which produces bursts of yellow light. Yellow light is absorbed in great concentrations by the red pigment found in blood. Thus, the laser beam penetrates the skin and focuses its energy in the abnormal blood vessel, effectively destroying it.

The pulsed dye laser may be used to treat more severe blemishes as well, including birth defects such as port wine stains and hemangiomas. Red birthmarks, rosacea, and red-nose syndrome also may be treated with this versatile device.

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