Sansum Facial Plastic Surgery
215 Pesetas Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93110

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Cosmetic Surgery

How much does it cost?

Individual costs vary. Some procedures can be done in the office, while others require an operating room and surgical team. Factors such as type of anesthesia, length of surgery, and extent of follow-up care also affect cost. These can only be determined in consultation with the doctor, once he has fully assessed your needs and preferences. We encourage you to call for a personal consultation with Dr. LaPatka.

Will insurance cover my facial plastic surgery?

That depends. It’s best to check with your insurer to verify their specific guidelines. In general, insurance plans do not cover purely cosmetic procedures such as rhinoplasty or endoscopic browlift. However, medically necessary surgery — such as for an injury, congenital defect, or physical impairment — may be coverable. For instance, an eyelid tuck (blepharoplasty) might be coverable if the sagging eyelid is obstructing your vision.

What payment methods do you accept?

You are welcome to pay with cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, or a debit card (note: anesthesia is billed separately and must be paid by cash or check). We also offer a payment plan; please ask our staff for more details about this option.

Are there other financing options?

Yes. Facial plastic surgery has become more affordable than ever before. Our knowledgeable staff can discuss financing with you and help you apply.

Does it hurt?

Appropriate anesthesia is used, ensuring that you are comfortable throughout the procedure. The type of anesthesia depends upon the length and complexity of the procedure, as well as other factors, such as your medical history. In the majority of surgeries, general (intravenous) sedation is used. Recovery periods do vary, and it’s normal to expect some bruising and discomfort to occur while healing from surgery. However everything possible is done to make sure your experience is a good one. Follow-up information and medication are provided to help you recover comfortably and quickly.

Are there risks of facial plastic surgery?

All medical treatments and surgeries have risks as well as benefits. It’s important to fully understand the option you select, which is why the doctor will discuss the details with you personally and answer any questions you may have. Risks may vary depending on the procedure you select and personal factors including age, health, and even skin coloration. After a careful medical evaluation, the doctor can recommend those options which would be the safest and most effective for you. We encourage you to call for a personal consultation with Dr. LaPatka.

Will people know that I’ve had facial plastic surgery?

Scarring is minimal, if any, and skillfully disguised within natural contours or behind a hairline. You can choose either subtle enhancement or a dramatic change. Certain procedures can even be done over a lunch break, with no recovery time at all. Of course, many people are so pleased with their experience that they can’t wait to tell friends and family about it! We value your confidentiality as much as you do. You can enter and leave the clinic through the Facial Plastic Surgery and Aesthetics’s discreet private entrance. We’ll never release your name or photograph without your consent.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mini-Lifts

How long is the recovery time?

It varies for each individual, but most patients return to normal function within a week.

How noticeable is a Mini-Lift?

Results vary, but a mini-lift can dramatically improve your look while maintaining your natural appearance.

How much does a Mini-Lift cost?

A Mini-lift can be done without general anesthesia and can cost much less than more extensive procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions About Laser Resurfacing

Laser resurfacing: Effective wrinkle treatment

Laser resurfacing treats wrinkles and minor facial flaws, but it does have limitations. Is this procedure your best bet for skin rejuvenation?

Wrinkles — whether they line the sides of your mouth or etch the corners of your eyes — are inevitable signs of aging. Though nothing fully stops the effects of time, you have options to help lessen the appearance of wrinkles and other minor skin conditions, such as age spots or acne scars.

Resurfacing your skin with one of several techniques, such as a chemical peel, radiofrequency ablation or dermabrasion, may be the answer. Laser resurfacing — a popular option in the family of ablative (wounding) skin resurfacing techniques — removes the aged or sun-damaged skin to allow younger looking skin to grow in its place.

Though laser resurfacing is an effective treatment for minor facial flaws, it does have limitations. Knowing what you can realistically expect and the benefits and risks involved can help you decide if this is the best procedure to improve the look of your skin.

Who is laser resurfacing for?

Laser resurfacing is for people who want to treat:

  • Fine to moderate wrinkles
  • Liver spots or age spots (solar lentigines)
  • Uneven skin tones
  • Sun-damaged skin
  • Acne or chickenpox scars

How do you prepare?

Before scheduling laser resurfacing, you need to meet with Dr. LaPatka to discuss the factors that determine whether this procedure is likely to work well for you. This meeting generally includes:

  • Your medical history. Dr. LaPatka asks questions about conditions you have or have had, as well as any current medications.
  • A physical examination. Dr. LaPatka conducts a physical examination and inspects your skin.
  • Photographs. We will take photographs of your face from different angles. Dr. LaPatka uses these photos for before-and-after assessments and long-term reviews.
  • A discussion of your expectations. You and Dr. LaPatka talk about your motivations and expectations. He explains what laser resurfacing can and can’t do for you and what your results might be.

Before surgery, you may also need to:

  • Avoid medications containing aspirin or ibuprofen for several days or up to a week before and after surgery. These medications may increase bleeding. Take only those medications approved or prescribed by Dr. LaPatka.
  • Avoid exposing your skin to the sun up to two months before surgery and six months after surgery. Too much sun may cause permanent irregular coloration in your facial skin.
  • Avoid applying makeup or facial cream the morning of the surgery.

How is laser resurfacing done?

During this procedure, an intense beam of light energy (laser) is directed at the area you want treated. The laser beam destroys the outer layer of skin (epidermis). At the same time the laser heats the underlying skin (dermis), which stimulates the growth of new collagen fibers. As the wound heals, new skin forms that’s smoother and tighter.

Compared with other resurfacing methods that destroy the outer layer of skin (ablative techniques), such as chemical peels or dermabrasion, laser resurfacing gives doctors more control over how deep the treatment penetrates your skin. And lasers allow doctors to more precisely treat delicate facial areas, such as those around your eyes and lips.

What can you expect during the procedure?

Dr. LaPatka can perform laser resurfacing in his office, or in an operating room at our outpatient surgery center, depending on the amount of laser resurfacing needed. At the start of the procedure, Dr. LaPatka numbs the skin with local anesthesia and may provide a sedative to help you relax. For extensive resurfacing — such as treatment to your whole face — or if you’re undergoing other cosmetic procedures, your doctor may give you general anesthesia. In this case, you’re unconscious during the surgery. Laser resurfacing can take a couple of minutes or up to two hours, depending on the size of the area treated.

After the procedure, your skin will appear red or pink. You may also experience:

  • Mild swelling and discomfort
  • Itching
  • A sunburn-like sensation

What are the results of laser resurfacing?

Immediately after the resurfacing procedure, an ointment and dressing is applied to your skin. Your face may be covered with a mask bandage and possibly a head wrap for a few days. If only a small part of your face is treated, the bandage may cover only the treated area. The mask bandage is removed a day or two after the procedure.

During recovery, you need to keep your skin moist by using protective creams and ointments. Remain at home and limit your activity level. Once new skin has completely covered the treated area — usually after one or two weeks — you may use cosmetics to conceal any lingering redness.
Your skin may stay red or pink for up to nine months following laser resurfacing. In addition, your skin may be sensitive to sunlight for up to a year after the procedure, so it’s important to minimize sun exposure and to use sunscreen liberally.

You may notice an immediate difference in your skin quality and appearance. And gradually during the next six to 12 months, you’ll likely see continued improvement. Although the effects of laser resurfacing can last for years, wrinkles and expression lines eventually recur as skin ages. Repeat procedures may be necessary.

What are the possible complications?

The most common complication of laser resurfacing is hyper- or hypopigmentation — skin tone that turns darker or lighter than normal. It may start three to four weeks after surgery and can last several months. You may be at increased risk of hyperpigmentation if you have a darker skin tone.
Another possible side effect is developing a herpes virus infection — the virus that causes cold sores. In most cases, herpes is already present and the surgery causes the virus to flare up. If you have a history of cold sores, shingles or herpes, we can prescribe a medication to prevent these infections after laser surgery.

Other complications include infection, acne flares and dermatitis — inflammation of the skin. Scarring also can occur although it’s rare, especially for less-aggressive procedures.
Lasers are now available that produce less chance of scarring and pigment changes, create less discomfort and require a shorter recovery time than older lasers. For example, nonablative (nonwounding) lasers avoid injury to the surface skin and treat the underlying layer. This technique still stimulates the production of collagen, but requires less recovery time because the upper layer of skin isn’t damaged. Because these lasers are less powerful, however, they usually require multiple sessions, and it may take longer to notice the results.

Have realistic expectations

Laser resurfacing is an effective treatment for minor facial flaws. For example, it can lessen the appearance of fine lines around your eyes, mouth and cheeks. It can also improve your complexion if you have yellowish or grayish skin tones.

But laser resurfacing has its limitations. It can’t remove deep wrinkles or eliminate excessive or sagging skin (jowls). In addition, the effects aren’t permanent because as you age, you continue to acquire expression lines — lines that result from the natural movement of your face, such as when you squint or smile. Talk with Dr. LaPatka about your goals and find out whether this procedure can meet your needs.

David F. LaPatka, MD, FACS

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