The Edge of reason
Omelaniec had surgery 10 years ago to correct her pelican chin, a genetic disorder in which a flap of skin hung from her chin to her throat. Elated with her new profile, she signed on for a few more procedures. “Once you have one surgery done, it’s kind of like being a kid in a candy store,” she says. Over the next 10 years, she underwent a breast reduction, face and brow lifts, tummy tuck and liposuction. The positive results have done more than just improve her aching back and overall appearance. “I suffered from agoraphobia [fear of open spaces],” she says, “and I would have panic attacks about going out.” She says she could feel people looking at her when she drove her convertible and feared their thoughts about her appearance. Since the surgeries, she has gained confidence and says that people admire her appearance instead of making fun of it. “I’ve got an ego like everybody else,” she says, “and it feels good.” As for having more surgery, Omelaniec is open to the idea, but not because she’s depressed or overly self-conscious. “At the moment, the face lift is still holding,” she says, “but I guess one day you have to face reality.”
There are definite benefits to having multiple procedures, agree Dr. Kreidstein, Dr. Mosher and Dr. Dahiya. Some surgeries, such as a face lift, forehead lift and blepharoplasty, actually complement each other. For instance, a well-performed tummy tuck can leave your lower half looking out of proportion, says Dr. Mosher. If you have thigh, hip and buttock liposuction at the same time, you’re more likely to look like your ideal. Having multiple surgeries at once can also help save you money, reduce the number of times you need anesthesia and reduce your overall recovery time, says Dr. Dahiya. In all, there’s nothing wrong with doing multiple operations, as long as each procedure is done with a sensible plan that is well executed, says Dr. Kreidstein.
Undergoing numerous surgeries at once can cause serious health complications, depending on the types of procedures you’re having and the doctor who’s doing them. “Despite the heroic efforts demonstrated on reality TV involving procedures performed at the same time [these] can often result in unnecessary risk to the patient,” says Dr. Mosher, who rarely agrees to perform face and torso or breast surgery at the same time. Surgery on more than one area of the body can increase the severity of the trauma, post-op pain and the risk of complications such as blood clots, infection and blood loss.
Too much liposuction, for instance, can disturb the body’s balance of electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium, compromising your health. Surgeries that last more than six hours or involve a large amount of body tissue – an implant procedure and liposuction – can increase your risk for potentially fatal problems such as a pulmonary embolism, a blockage in your lung artery often from a blood clot. Also, any operation that exposes open wounds to bacteria, such as thigh liposuction, should not be combined with surgery like a breast augmentation, which opens up a large area for the bacteria to potentially enter.
As if those problems weren’t enough, having numerous surgeries on the same area can also cause cosmetic complications, says Dr. Dahiya. “Each procedure can only be performed a certain number of times before the amount of scar tissue compromises the survivability of the skin,” he says. In other words, you could damage the remaining skin or have a large buildup of scar tissue, altering your new appearance.
* Name changed to protect her identity.
•Dr. Michael Kreidstein, 416-391-4452, www.drkreidstein.com
• Dr. Mathew C. Mosher, 604-514-0933, www.drmosher.com
• Dr. Ravi Dahiya, 301-652-8882, www.potomacfps.com