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Facing the holidays (A plastic surgeon’s perspective)

The holiday season carries many different meanings for people. It is a chance for families to unite and reflect on the accomplishments of the year that has gone by. It is also a time to set goals for the coming new year.

More frequently, people are turning to plastic surgeons to help them achieve their goals of looking younger and better. A common question patients ask is if they can have their surgery over their vacation and be ready to return to work before the vacation ends, and the answer is almost always — absolutely!

Rhinoplasty and otoplasty Parents will often want their children to have surgery over their winter break, so they won’t miss school, and the procedure will not interfere with camp or summer plans. Two common operations performed on children are rhinoplasty (nose job), which can be done at age 15, and otoplasty (ear pinning), which can be done as early as 5 years of age.

Both the rhinoplasty and otoplasty can be performed in an office operating room or outpatient surgical center. The procedures take about one hour and can be done under IV sedation anesthesia, although general anesthesia may be needed for younger children.

Breast augmentation and facelift One increasingly common procedure is breast augmentation for young women preparing to embark on their college careers. These are usually done as “graduation presents” in the summer, but sometimes girls want to end their senior year in high school with an enhanced appearance. Another group who look at the holiday season as a time to improve their appearance are school teachers, school principals and school administrators. They frequently will have surgery on their breasts and faces, and are ready to return to work without any signs of recently having had a surgical procedure. Two common operations among this group of patients are breast augmentation and facelift surgery. A breast augmentation takes about an hour. In my practice, general anesthesia is not necessary, and the post-operative pain-control technique I use dramatically reduces, and in many cases eliminates, post-operative pain. A facelift takes about 2-1/2 to three hours to perform and general anesthesia is not required. It also has a minimal amount of post-operative discomfort. Within five to seven days, people can return to work without significant signs of having had surgery.

Liposuction The holidays are also a time when people overeat and can gain five to 10 unwanted pounds. This can accentuate fat deposits, and liposuction can easily and safely remove unwanted fat from multiple areas, including the abdomen, hips, thighs and arms. There is minimal pain after liposuction and the procedure can be done without general anesthesia. Plastic surgery, when performed correctly by a board-certified plastic surgeon in an accredited facility, is a safe and effective way to improve your appearance and self-esteem. It is truly a holiday gift for this season and for many future seasons to come.

— Russel S. Palmer, M.D., attended Harvard for General Surgery and UCLA for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He practices in Hollywood, Fla., and is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. To contact Dr. Palmer, call 954-989-5001 or go to his website: