Trauma is like rolling thunder. It is a menace that surrounds us and fills us with fear, rumbling through our consciousness. However, trauma is often more sound than fury. The psychological effects of a damaging incident are often worse than the physical manifestations.
An accident can affect a survivor in a number of ways. First, there is pain, then there are scars, and finally, there is doubt. What will people think when they see my face? How noticeable is the scarring? How can I regain the confidence I had before trauma struck?
The insecurities born out of a disfiguring incident can become overwhelming. Therapy is a great resource, as is taking proactive measures to address the source of the concern. Reconstructive surgery can help restore a patient’s features to their former glory.
FACIAL ENHANCEMENT: BY THE NUMBERS
Doctors perform over 5 million reconstructive procedures annually in the United States. This number includes approximately 90,000 surgeries to correct maxillofacial conditions. The word “maxillofacial” pertains to the neck and head. When trauma occurs to the face, it can be especially jarring due to its visibility.
TRAUMA IS MORE THAN AN ACCIDENT
When we discuss traumatic events, your mind may conjure images of car accidents and house fires. But one of the greatest traumas imaginable is a cancer diagnosis. There are more than 5.4 million skin cancer diagnoses every year in America. But here’s the good news: about 80% of the incidents are of the basal cell variety, which is less likely to spread than squamous cell carcinoma.
When caught early, most skin cancers are eminently treatable. Your dermatologist may freeze away the cancerous cells, shave them away layer by layer, or simply cut them out. Regardless of which method is used, you may be left with a visible scar.
To address scarring left by cancer removal, a plastic surgeon has many reconstruction options. They can graft skin from other parts of your body onto your face, allowing your own tissue to blend and create a healthy new complexion. If the skin cancer was not as extensive, your doctor may use the flap technique. Healthy skin adjacent to the removed cells can be “folded” over to cover the scarred area, in effect smoothing out the incident and restoring your pre-cancer glow.
Cancer removal is not the only trauma that leaves scars. Acne, cuts, and burns can also leave telltale marks on the skin, but your plastic surgeon can revise scars to replenish your smooth, striking skin.
Scarring occurs when the skin is broken and the body rushes a flood of collagen to seal the wound. The healing process is hasty, so the newly formed skin does not look like its surrounding flesh. Hypertrophic scars are often red in hue, while keloid scars are raised beyond the plane of the skin, sticking up for the whole world to see.
There are a number of approaches that your surgeon can take to minimize your facial scars. There is surgical excision, which removes the scar tissue and brings the two ridges of healthy skin together to form a seamless surface. Laser skin resurfacing focuses precise beams of energy to the scar, erasing it as much as possible.
If a scar pulls down at the skin, it may look like a divot. Your doctor can treat these scars by injecting dermal fillers into the space below the depression. Dermal fillers, like Juvéderm and Restylane, plump the skin from within giving it volume and dimension. Injectables offer long-lasting relief from some instances of scarring, but reconstructive surgery is a more permanent solution.
Skin is more than just window-dressing. It is a functioning layer of living cells that process Vitamin D and expel toxins, just to name a few of its important duties. But when the skin is injured, it threatens more than just the surface.
Many plastic surgeons work in conjunction with trauma center doctors to provide patients an all-encompassing treatment to their injuries. By addressing issues like infection before they become life-threatening, reconstructive surgery treats skin as it heals. Truly, healthy skin yields benefits that extend far beyond the surface.
PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY
Trauma can take away so much, but medical science can work to restore as much as possible. If an accident or affliction has affected your appearance, reconstructive surgery can mend the scars, both external and internal.
Scientists conducted an extensive survey of over 800 patients. 544 of these individuals received plastic surgery and 264 did not, even though they were intrigued by the prospects of physical enhancement. Clinicians interviewed all 808 participants at intervals of 3, 6, and 12 months. The group who had experienced cosmetic surgery reported higher levels of attractiveness, self-esteem, and overall quality of life than the group who did not undergo aesthetic treatment.
Furthermore, measures of depression and social anxiety decreased for those who received cosmetic enhancements. These findings are wonderful under any circumstances, but they may be especially helpful when viewed through a lens of trauma survivors. Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) co-occur in patients with shocking regularity. Between 48% and 55% of patients treated for PTSD have also struggled with some sort of depressive disorder.
Now let’s put all of this data into perspective. By administering reconstructive surgery, a doctor can help lower the propensity for depression. Depression shares a complicated and frustrating link with post-traumatic stress. Hence, reconstructive surgery can help treat more than just the face; it can strike at the heart of trauma itself.
To learn how Dr. William J. Binder can help restore your aesthetics, as well as your confidence, contact his office in Beverly Hills. You are stronger than trauma, and Dr. Binder is on your side.