Reconstructive and cosmetic facial plastic surgery can accomplish some remarkable things, but oftentimes the most effective procedures require the use of additional tissue to build up or repair areas of the face. Broken noses can be reshaped, weak chins can be augmented, and sunken cheeks can even be made to look more rounded and youthful. While many of these effects can be achieved with artificial substances or implants, in my experience the best results usually result from the use of autologous materials, the medical term for natural substances taken from the patient’s own body. Not only do they provide seamless, natural looking facial plastic surgery results, but autologous materials are also generally safer and longer lasting than their artificial analogs. Here are just some of the many things that they can accomplish.
Cartilage is a strong, flexible tissue found in the nose, ears, trachea, larynx, and smaller respiratory tubes as well as between the bones in most joints where it acts as a sort of shock absorber. While artificial implants can be excessively rigid, resulting in an angular, unnatural appearance, implants formed from the patient’s own cartilage blend seamlessly with the surrounding tissue, healing with the body and providing results that are virtually undetectable. I frequently use cartilage during reconstructive and cosmetic rhinoplasty, or nose surgery, as artificial implants can exert too much pressure of the skin, eventually causing it to thin to the point that the implant becomes visible underneath. Similarly, cartilage is also ideal for sculpting the curves and arches of the outer ear during reconstructive otoplasty, which is performed to correct the appearance of ears that are abnormally shaped due to physical trauma or congenital birth defect.
Another versatile material that can play a role in cosmetic facial rejuvenation procedures is fat, which can easily be removed from locations throughout the body via liposuction. Once it has been properly filtered and purified, this fat can be used to add additional volume to key areas, sculpting the facial silhouette, or to create a soft, rounded contour in areas of the face that have become sunken or gaunt over time. Fat transfer techniques are often performed in combination with other facial plastic surgery procedures, like a facelift or neck lift. Unlike artificial facial fillers, natural fat can last anywhere from seven to ten years before additional maintenance procedures are required, and the stem cells produced by the natural fat can even improve the condition and appearance of the skin.
Above all, because autologous tissues are derived from the patient’s own body, there is a significantly reduced risk of infection or rejection when they are used. I have found that generally far fewer complications arise from the use of natural materials, and the patients are far more pleased with the final results. If you have questions about any of the cosmetic or reconstructive plastic surgery procedures that I perform, please feel free to contact me, Dr. Fernando Burstein, to schedule an appointment for a full consultation so that we can discuss your particular needs. Don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest facial plastic surgery news.