English media personality and former model Katie Price made the news recently when photos emerged of Ms. Price with bloodied, “oozing” incisions that many in the media claimed were the result of a botched facelift. Dr. William P. Adams Jr. of Dallas and the No Spin Live panel of experts, Dr. Adam Hamawy of Princeton, NJ, Dr. Jason Pozner of Boca Raton, and Dr. Richard Baxter of Seattle, discuss whether or not these photos are a realistic representation of how a patient can expect to look immediately after surgery. Was that the case? Or is this just another example of the media sensationalizing a story in order to frighten patients and sell magazines?
Realistic-Looking Early Results
After looking at the photos in question, Dr. Baxter could not understand what all the fuss was about. The story discussed Ms. Price peeling off her bandages and having all this puss leaking out of her incisions; Dr. Baxter didn’t think that it looked that bad. “It looked just like an early result,” he shares. He saw some antibiotic ointment that maybe someone misconstrued as puss, but why is the media getting so worked up about this woman having had some plastic surgery?
Dr. Adams agreed that she simply looked as if she had just had a facelift. She was at a recovery resort and looked “out and about maybe more than she should have,” continues Dr. Baxter. He has his patients lay low and stay out of the sun for the first week post op. Post-op care and instructions is, frankly, a decision between Ms. Price and her plastic surgeon.
The Sensationalizing Media
Dr. Hamawy believes that this is yet another example of the media blowing things out of proportion- he saw nothing of concern in these photos. “This is just a lot of sensationalism. And instead of the media educating people about the normal process, they’re basically scaring people away, ” he explains.
Ms Price will probably look great in a couple of weeks. The “horrible” incision lines will fade away, and will be barely visible once everything heals. The recovery process is just that — a process. And, these photos were taken at the very beginning of her healing journey when most facelift patients are still hiding away in their homes. Remember that while the facelift procedure is better than it has ever been (in the right hands), it’s still surgery done on the face. There is absolutely going to be some recovery when anything surgical is done on the body.
Patients Need to Know What to Expect
Dr. Pozner thinks that part of the problem is, “we’re immune to this stuff.” As surgeons, he and his colleagues are used to seeing patients in varying degrees of swelling, oozing and scarring. It’s part of the job and part of surgery, so they aren’t going to react to a little blood or puss. But for the lay person, seeing these photos could be frightening. He gets calls from patients all the time in the middle of the night for exactly this issue — oozing incision lines and swelling. “In our office, we try to educate patients as to what they are going to look like,” he explains, in order to avoid anxiety for the patients.
Patients need to be made aware of what to expect after a facelift. There will be some bruising and swelling and bleeding – it’s all part of a normal post-op healing. “One of the reasons that we have patients come back to our office often is to look for issues with healing,” explains Dr. Pozner. Things such as a high fever or extreme swelling may be cause for immediate concern, but he would look at Ms. Price and say that she is healing fine. Although he does agree with Dr. Baxter that it is too early for her to be out in the sun.
Plastic Surgery Shaming
Dr. Baxter almost finds this extreme media attention on Ms. Prices’s results to be part of an overall trend of plastic surgery shaming. We’ve all seen the headlines that read so and so is accused of having plastic surgery, like it’s some sort of betrayal. Who knows Ms. Price’s motivation for having surgery, but it is her personal choice. She seems to be somewhat of a serial plastic surgery patient. “At some point, that becomes somewhat of a problem, but whether it is for her or not is really none of our business,” shares Baxter.
Dr. Hamawy and Dr. Pozner both agree that she looks good! The media story has set up the wrong expectation: no one wakes up the day after surgery and looks great. “There is a period of recovery and she’s going through that normal period,” explains Dr. Hamawy. Dr. Pozner points out that there are unethical surgeons who will tell a patient that he or she will look great immediately and can even run a marathon the next day. “Some people may have some false expectations, so we need to keep educating our patients,” he concludes.