Non-surgical procedures have been on the rise for the past decade, with nearly 16 million performed in 2018 alone. While many of these are advertised as quick and easy “lunchtime” procedures with zero downtime, they have effects on your body’s tissues that need to be considered when it comes to subsequent treatments and surgeries.
In this post, Hagerstown plastic surgeon Dr. Garazo explains how non-surgical procedures can affect future surgical procedures, and why it’s essential to tell your plastic surgeon about all the cosmetic treatments you’ve had.
Can non-surgical procedures create surgical complications later on?
Yes, they can create complications—but that is far less likely to happen if you disclose your history to your plastic surgeon and allow them to plan accordingly.
Why? Many people don’t think twice about the long-term effects that non-surgical devices and long-lasting injectables can have on your tissues, yet these procedures all alter your physiology to some degree. This makes operating on “untouched” bodies different from operating on patients who have had previous surgical and non-surgical procedures.
That said, if you’ve already had various treatments, don’t feel too worried. Because of the popularity of procedures like filler injections, we plastic surgeons are less and less likely to see patients with “virgin” skin, and some come to us with over a decade of treatment history as people increasingly choose non-surgical procedures to treat signs of aging and sculpt their bodies. Indeed, I support patients in their 30s and 40s receiving minimally invasive maintenance treatments—I just advise thinking ahead as well. Remember that these non-surgical procedures are acting on your tissues and will require special consideration when it comes to future surgical procedures. You should also consider when it’s best to use a surgical procedure rather than relying on non-surgical options alone.
How non-surgical procedures can affect a future facelift
Many of my patients are surprised when I tell them that I can tell if they’ve had a non-surgical facial procedure in the past. This is because non-surgical skin tightening procedures are designed to increase collagen production and, while collagen is key for healthy, vibrant skin, it is also a detectable form of ‘scar’ tissue.
Many of my patients are surprised when I tell them that I can tell if they’ve had a non-surgical facial procedure in the past.
Here are some of the challenges plastic surgeons can face (pun intended) when performing a facelift on patients who have had previous non-surgical enhancements:
- Your face is composed of many layers besides skin—including fat, muscles, fascia, ligaments, and bone—which plastic surgeons use to navigate the depth at which to make incisions without damaging nerves or tissues. Non-surgical skin tightening devices inflict damage on tissues in order to promote collagen via wound healing, which can cause treated facial tissue to thicken. Over time, tissues may also appear less distinct, making them more challenging for a less skilled surgeon to modify.
- Long-lasting dermal fillers like Radiesse® are made from calcium hydroxyapatite (CaHA) gel microspheres and persist under the skin for 15+ months. Radiesse can be problematic for surgeons because it can restrict blood flow. (It normally won’t impact arteries but it can impact small blood vessels.) Hyaluronic acid-based fillers typically aren’t an issue for surgeons because they have shorter life spans, and a surgeon can dissolve them before surgery if they are still present in the body. (Neurotoxins including Botox® and Dysport® are absorbed immediately and therefore don’t provide any post-treatment challenges.)
Your body needs fat
Non-surgical procedures that induce fat loss can also prove problematic for surgeons. This is because these procedures are designed to remove fat that lives between your skin and fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles), but this also reduces the amount of cushioning between your skin’s planes. This fat loss can increase the risk of skin death and nerve damage.
Non-surgical body contouring procedures that target fat can additionally affect your fat’s consistency, making it feel tougher and more fibrous. When a patient who has undergone a non-surgical fat reduction treatment later decides to have liposuction—whether on its own or as part of a tummy tuck—it can be more difficult to insert a cannula to remove the fat. This makes it particularly important to choose a very experienced body contouring plastic surgeon if you’ve previously had a non-surgical fat reduction procedure.
Healing doesn’t end after your procedure
When a non-surgical treatment is advertised as having “little-to-no downtime,” this doesn’t mean that your skin is finished healing immediately after your procedure; rather, it simply means you can return to your normal activities while your skin continues to heal. It can take months or even years after a non-surgical skin tightening procedure for your skin to produce new collagen and recover from inflammation, and operating on it during this time must be approached with care.
So, can I still get a surgical procedure after a non-surgical treatment?
Yes, you can absolutely still get a surgical procedure after a non-surgical treatment. It may make your procedure somewhat more difficult to perform, but an experienced board certified plastic surgeon will be able to properly assess your physical condition and create a safe, customized plan, provided you…
Tell your plastic surgeon about ALL of your past procedures.
Tell your surgeon about any and all previous cosmetic procedures you’ve had, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. The more your surgeon knows about your medical history, the better the treatment they can provide. It is also a good idea to choose a board certified plastic surgeon who has operated on patients with a similar treatment history as yours.
Is it safe to get a non-surgical procedure if I may want plastic surgery in the future?
Non-surgical procedures can serve as great preventative treatments when you’re in your 30s and 40s, and can be paired with surgical procedures later in life for added skin tightening and body contouring. Instead of fully avoiding non-surgical procedures altogether, I recommend using them in moderation.
For example, hyaluronic acid-based fillers like Juvéderm® and Restylane®, combined with neuromodulators like Botox and Dysport, are ideal for regular touch-ups that carry very few long-term risks and won’t interfere with future surgeries. Refrain from overdoing it with skin tightening and body contouring devices, as they can cause scar tissue to build up over time and make future surgeries more cumbersome.
Instead of fully avoiding non-surgical procedures altogether, I recommend using them in moderation.
While it can be tempting to use non-surgical options to avoid downtime and anesthesia, patient satisfaction ratings prove that surgical procedures like tummy tucks and facelifts provide more satisfying and long-lasting contouring, in addition to allowing a plastic surgeon to have more control over your results.
Choose a board certified plastic surgeon for your procedure
If you’re interested in enhancing your look but aren’t sure where to start—or you’ve had previous cosmetic procedures and are unsure if you’re a good fit for surgery—board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Henry Garazo can help. Dr. Garazo has been helping patients in the Hagerstown/Frederick area increase confidence in their appearance with plastic surgery for nearly 20 years. Contact his practice online or call (301) 791-1800 to schedule your consultation today.