As tribute to the start of the new school year, I want to offer my readers a history lesson. The history of my craft, Plastic Surgery, is longer-standing than one might believe. True, the greatest advances upon which modern cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries have been built have occurred in the past century. However, the advances made prior to the turn of the twentieth century are the basis of my field of medicine.
Historians believe that the first reconstructive surgeries were performed in India around 600 B.C. Facial feature reconstructions were the most common procedures, as recorded in texts circa this era. In ancient India, criminals’ and traitors’ noses, ears and lips were commonly removed as punishment. To repair the wounds, skin was grafted from the forehead, cheeks or arms and stitched in place.
I'm often asked about the most common factors contributing to the aging process. Everyday exposure to the sun, pollution, and other factors in our environment contribute to the natural aging process. As residents of the Bay Area, we are fortunate to live in a very mild climate with lots of sunny days. However, this fortune comes at a price, as the sun is the number one enemy we battle in our quest to retain our youthful appearance.
Frequency and intensity of sun exposure accelerates the aging process, damages skin and increases the incidence of skin cancer. As such, part of any healthy lifestyle includes practicing sun safety. We start our lives with thin delicate baby skin and end up with thin delicate elder skin. The care we take to protect our skin really does make a difference. Wearing hats, sunglasses, protective clothing, and liberal use of sunscreen are necessary precautions to protect us from our infancy to our golden years.
What is it that keeps you from walking in this world with confidence?
A patient of mine started crying during a follow up appointment for her recent facelift. Her face looked beautiful, refreshed, rejuvenated and natural, so I asked her what was wrong. She said she was emotional because she had spent years feeling that her outer appearance looked old and tired, and did not reflect the vibrant woman she is. She is now being treated like an attractive woman again; like the woman she is on the inside. The change was empowering and uplifting.
Another patient had a similar reaction after her rhinoplasty (nose job). She said she had spent years worrying about her nose. She had been teased as a teenager about the hump on her nose and remained self-conscious about it as an adult. After the rhinoplasty, her self-consciousness about her nose no longer got in the way of her relationships with others. She is no longer talking to people and wondering, "what are they thinking about the defect on my nose." She feels free.
Spring is here and for many that means the beginning of the season when we start trying to shed the weight gained during the cold winter months. For me it means heading to the gym, and walking the Lafayette Reservoir. We all want to get back into that bathing- suit shape we had at the end of last summer and I’m no exception.
As always, proper diet and exercise are keys to transforming our bodies into top form. However, every year as we grow older, our skin changes, we can’t metabolize fats like we used to and we have slightly less muscle mass. This is why we inevitably begin to see the signs of aging as sagging, wrinkles, and those stubborn little pockets of fat that seem to stay no matter how hard we work out. Add to this any major change in weight such as having a baby, and gravity may have the advantage.