The recent buzz about Heidi Montag’s 10 cosmetic procedures in one day may have you wondering about combination plastic surgery. How can a woman have so many things done to her body at a time? What about safety?
Rest assured that few patients, and even fewer plastic surgeons, would elect to go ahead with 10 procedures in the same day. But you can also rest assured that combination plastic surgery is generally very safe—that is, when the goals are less ambitious. Say two or perhaps three procedures performed at once.
Combination procedures were done for many years without much fanfare as patients sought efficiency in cosmetic surgery. The benefits are obvious. First, you can save money. You may not save much on the surgeon’s fee or the cost of devices and equipment, but you will save on anesthesia and on the cost of the surgical facility. The second advantage is recovery time. If you’re looking to tune up your figure with a breast lift and a bit of liposuction, why not deal with just one recovery period instead of two?
Combination surgery has grown in popularity and gained more attention over the last couple of decades. Cosmetic surgeons began to market the “mommy makeover” as an option for women who are finished childbearing and would like to get their figures back. A typical mommy makeover combines breast surgery—breast augmentation, a breast lift or even a breast reduction—with a tummy tuck to tighten up abdominal skin and muscles. Sometimes a little liposuction will also be performed to banish pockets of fat that dieting just can’t seem to reach.
Doctors at Marina Plastic Surgery Associates, in Southern California, devote more time than most researching. One area of interest they’ve focused on is the safety of "mommy makeovers". Tracking two different groups of patients from their practice over a period of several years, the surgeons found that patients undergoing a breast procedure and abdominoplasty at the same time experienced about the same complication rates as patients having just one procedure.
Another California plastic surgeon with experience in combination procedures is Dr. David Kaufman. From Sacramento, he specializes in a unique group of patients. Kaufman treats those who have lost massive amounts of weight and need body contouring to shed excess skin. Kaufman explains that great care is needed when considering combination procedures for weight loss patients. It’s understandable that they’re eager to re-shape their bodies as soon as possible, but the potential lasting health impact those extra pounds may have created must be considered. Patients need to be evaluated for possible cardiac and pulmonary issues, for instance, before any body contouring is planned, let alone a combination procedure. Still, Kaufman often finds he can accomplish more than one goal at a time. Breast surgery and arm lift is a popular combination for weight loss patients.
The lesson here is the same as almost any other cosmetic procedure: find a true expert. If you’re past childbearing years and would like to reshape your figure, ask the plastic surgeons about their experience. How many "mommy makeovers" have they performed? What kinds of procedures have they combined for their patients? Ask to see before and after photos and ask to speak with past patients. Inquire about the combination aspect of surgery. Does the surgeon believe there’s added risk?
Know that one of the most critical factors in determining what’s safe is how long you’ll be under general anesthesia. Again, ask. Ask what length of time the surgeon feels is safe. Ask how long your combination procedure will take. What if there’s a complication—what kind of time may be unexpectedly added?
In the hands of a board certified plastic surgeon who is experienced in the exact menu of procedures you’re considering, combination plastic surgery should present very little added risk. But don’t expect to have 10 goals accomplished in one day!