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Liposuction pioneer says plastic surgery helps self-confidence

The Sunday Times Logo Sunday, November 18, 2012

The pursuit of happiness may take many different forms: from the most materialistic wish to fulfilling life ambitions, finding one’s inner self, or feeling confident in one’s outer body.

You change the outside; you change the inside

Dr Pierre F. Fournier knows a thing or two about the latter quest. The French plastic surgeon, attributed the title of “founder of modern aesthetics”, has travelled far and wide to give women what he calls “the surgery of happiness”.

Dr Fournier recently led an international workshop on his co-invention, liposuction and lipo-filling techniques, at the Persona Med-Aesthetic Centre in Ta’ Xbiex. The event formed part of the first international annual congress of the Dermatologic & Aesthetic Surgery International League (Dasil), a global forum for dermatologists and aesthetic surgeons.

It was the doctor’s second visit to Malta: the first time round was, however, only a one-day stop while on a Mediterranean cruise years ago, when he was still a medical student.

The hands of the octogenarian, who comes across as a charming gentleman, may not be as firm as they once were – in fact, he stopped practising two years ago – but his mind and wit are still as sharp as the instruments he once used.

“We are surgical psychiatrists,” says Dr Fournier of his profession. “You change the outside; you change the inside.”

According to the doctor, an aesthetic “anomaly” destroys or decreases one’s self-confidence.

“Human beings do not only want to live; they want to live in the best physical and mental condition possible – as close as possible to perfection,” he says, although he admits there is no true definition of beauty or perfection, and their perception varies from one culture to the other.

But that is primarily why people resort to all sorts of aesthetic surgeries – from hair transplants and nose jobs to breast augmentation to facelifts and tummy tucks.

Name it and Dr Fournier has done it!

“We serve beauty à la carte,” he says, “just as long as we make people happy”.

His clients have ranged from queens and models to factory workers, but, of course, he does not divulge any names.

“Gravity is man’s worst enemy,” says the doctor, recalling an 85-year-old “important” lady, who wanted to do a facelift. He was quite hesitant about it considering her age, but she convinced him by saying: “If you are not attractive, you don’t want to feel unattractive.”

Dr Fournier has acquired fame and fortune over the years but he had quite humble beginnings. After serving in World War II and graduating from medical school after 15 years of study, Dr Fournier said he had no more money than a pickpocket.

An ENT friend of his thus suggested he try aesthetic surgery, the demand of which was growing in France.

“It came quite natural. It’s like a cook trying a different recipe,” he quips.

He eventually opened a small clinic in the suburbs of the French capital and, by offering lower prices than most other surgeons in central Paris, clients soon started to line up behind his door.

Dr Fournier’s big break, however, came when he visited his friend Giorgio Fischer, a gynaecologist from Rome, in the early 1970s, who had invented a machine “to suck the fat of Italian ladies”.

Dr Fournier invited him to his clinic, where he treated some patients.

Dr Fischer wanted to build a factory to produce his invention. But a friend of theirs, Yves-Gérard Illouz, approached them with a suction machine used by gynaecologists for abortions – since abortion was already legal – which worked perfectly for the same purpose.

The trio of doctors’ popularity soon got them an invitation to the American Congress of Plastic Surgery. Thereafter, they started touring the world teaching their techniques.

Cosmetic surgery became popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s when exotic destinations such as Tahiti, Greece and Egypt became all the rage, Dr Fournier maintains.

“Before, the few people who underwent cosmetic surgery kept it all hush-hush; it was like a shameful thing to do. But then people started to uncover themselves to go on holiday and they wanted to look good,” Dr Fournier says.

This era coincided with the sexual revolution and the introduction of the Pill. “Girls wanted to have fun,” he adds with a twinkle in his eyes.

But who could afford these surgeries back then?

One of Dr Fournier’s missions has always been the “democratisation of beauty” – making beauty available to all.

His principal tool for liposuction is the syringe, which he emphasises “is as powerful as any suction machine because vacuum can be created only once”.

So it was a relatively cheap procedure, and thus affordable across different social strata. It nowadays covers 80 per cent of all cosmetic surgeries.

Liposuction is, however, not only done for aesthetic purposes. Leafing through a book he wrote on liposculpture, Dr Fournier shows pictures of male and female patients who underwent surgery for health reasons.

“I extracted 20 litres of fat from him,” he says, pointing to the photo of a man from Saudi Arabia. “It was a life-saving operation.”

He also expresses concern about obesity among the younger generation, pointing to the “pandemic among children in many countries, including Britain, the US and France”.

Another popular surgery is fat grafting or fat transfer from one part of the body to another, used to firm, fill out or plump up lips, cheeks or buttocks, among other areas. This kind of surgery dates back to World War II when it was used to alter the look of notorious spies.

“It only worked for a couple of months but it lasted enough to complete a mission,” he says.

Fifteen years ago, Dr Fournier did this kind of surgery on himself: he took fat from his tummy and transferred it to his cheeks. “And it’s still there,” he says, proudly pinching them.

Another kind of surgery which is becoming more and more popular – and perhaps a little more talked about nowadays – is aesthetic surgery of the female external sexual organs.

“Patients with such problems are embarrassed and believe they are ridiculous to request such treatments. This is the cause of deep distress,” Dr Fournier claims.

The anomaly may be responsible for a deficiency of the sexual organ’s physiological or erotic function or even of permanent pains.

“Once corrected, patients may rediscover life’s satisfactions and their character and morale can change for the better.”

So there seems to be a solution to all quests for enhancing one’s image and psychological well-being. But does one necessarily need to undergo surgery to improve one’s look? What about a quick fix?

“A smile is the biggest embellishment operation of all,” he says.

Certificat Cadeau Cosmedica / Cosmedica Gift Certificates

Liquid facelift in high demand, creates market for illegal fillers

Posted: 11/15/2012  By: Jackie Callaway

TAMPA – Liquid facelifts rank as the top non-surgical cosmetic procedure in the nation. The demand for Botox and fillers has triggered a rise in illegal injectables.

The FDA has issued an ongoing alert for unlicensed Botox that is shipped in from other countries. Captain Domenic Veneziano, the FDA’s Director of Import Operations said.  “We don’t want potentially dangerous products to get in the hands and be used by the American people.”

But the I-team found doctors on both sides of the bay inundated with offers for cheap offshore unlicensed Botox and fillers not approved for sale in the United States.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, doctors pay about $530 for a box of two syringes of Juvederm Ultra.  We discovered off shore sellers from Europe and Japan pitching a box of Ultra 2 for half the price.  But there’s a catch. According to the FDA, Ultra 2 can not be legallysold or used in the USA.

The I-team combed thru dozens of doctor’s websites, Groupons and Facebook offers.  We discovered both Clearwater Aesthetic Medicine, also known as the Creative Health Center, and Adora Body Sculpting Clinic in Brandon, Palm Harbor and Wesley Chapel advertising the use of Juvederm Ultra 2.

With an undercover camera, we went for a consultation.  At Clearwater Aesthetic, Medicine Dr. Jayam Iyer offered our producer a pamphlet on Juvederm Ultra 2.  At Adora Body Sculpting’s Brandon Office, no mention of Ultra 2 during the consult, but we did notice something about the Botox box sitting in the exam room.

The word cosmetic is missing from this box.  Legitimate Botox containers always contain the word ‘cosmetic,’ according to Allergan the manufacturer.

In an email, Allergan pointed out,  “… only Allergan’s product is called Botox Cosmetic … ”  Boxes and vials missing the ‘cosmetic’ label may be real Botox, but its not approved for cosmetic use in the United States.

Dr. Iyer’s office never returned our calls or emails and when we attempted to get answers in person we were quickly asked to leave.

Adora Body Sculpting Clinic responded through their attorney ,who wrote in an email. “Juvederm Ultra 2 and Ultra 3 are FDA approved formulations of Juvederm, and are manufactured in FDA inspected facilities by Allergan.”

Yet the FDA says “… only Allergan’s Juvederm Ultra and Ultra Plus XC with lidocaine are approved for use in the United States.”

FDA documents obtained by the I-team reveal that agents began looking into Adora Body Sculpting Clinic’s use of fillers, specifically Botox and Juvederm Ultra 2 and 3 back in March.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, risks associated with unlicensed filler range from dangerous reactions to outdated or ineffective products.

The I-Team combed thru 900 cases in which Florida’s Department of Health disciplined medical professionals in the last five years.  We could only find three cases involving offshore bought or illegal filler.  Several doctors we spoke with say the numbers are proof not enough is being done to punish those who buy and inject unwitting patients with illegal filler.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself. The FDA’s website contains a list of approved fillers. Botox manufacturer Allergan posts pictures and a list of legitimate providers on its site.

Allergan the makers of Botox Cosmetic and Juvederm lists those physicians that buy directly from them in their physician locator sites that can be found on www.BOTOXCosmetic.com

Here is a link to the FDA’s approved list of wrinkle fillers.     http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/CosmeticDevices/WrinkleFillers/ucm227749.htm 

Cosmetic buttock injections lead to criminal negligence charge

Curtis Rush  Police Reporter

A Newmarket woman has been charged after police say buttock augmentation injections sent one of her customers to hospital with a serious infection.

The victim, a 28-year-old woman, received several injections of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) starting on Aug. 26, Toronto police said.

She fell ill and was taken to hospital on Aug. 29, where she was treated for several days with antibiotics. Her condition continued to worsen and resulted in surgery to remove the substance from her buttocks.

PMMA is an augmentation drug that is neither illegal nor regulated, and is used by surgeons for bone reconstruction, police said.

In this case, they said the woman was put at risk because of the way the substance was administered.

Police said the woman paid thousands of dollars in cash for the services.

They believe there may be other victims.

Marilyn Ely Reid, 46, has been charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

All I want for Christmas is … plastic surgery

By Johnny Diaz, Staff writer 2:25 p.m. EST, November 15, 2012

Santa is leaving attractive gifts in some South Florida stockings this season: Gift certificates for botox and collagen injections, breast implants and tummy tucks.

Plastic surgery procedures and cosmetic treatments are topping holiday lists, making this a busy time not just for Old Saint Nick but for local plastic surgeons.

 

“The holidays are a time when people want to give gifts, and people are looking to make each other happy,” said Dr. Jacob Steiger, a Boca Raton plastic surgeon. “The cosmetic medicine and surgical market is so large these days that people enjoy looking their best and rejuvenated, and their friend [or loved one] will know that. They will give that as a gift.”

This Christmas, Carolyn Gallichio will leave her husband, Larry, a wrapped box under their tree with a $500 gift certificate for botox injections and laser hair removal. “Instead of buying a bunch of little things. I can buy one big gift,” said Gallichio, a psychotherapist in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s a nice gift, one piece of paper, one little bow, one little box, and that’s it, you’re done, and the person is very happy. “And there’s a benefit — you don’t have to look at their wrinkled, shriveled face,” she said, jokingly.

 

She thinks men are more willing to be on the receiving end of cosmetic procedures if it’s a gift from a wife, girlfriend, or significant other. “There is a lot of shame and ego attached to a male going in and stopping at an aesthetic institute,” she said. “It’s not something that they would buy for themselves. If he got the gift certificate, it’s like, ‘My wife got this for me. She wants me to look better.’ “

That thinking works the other way around, too. Gallichio, who received breast enhancement surgery as a gift from her husband 10 years ago, has hinted to him that she would like any holiday gift money to go toward a breast lift. “That’s what I want in my stocking,” said Gallichio, 51.

 

Some people like to receive their gift early to be ready for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve festivities. Others typically schedule vacation or time off from work during these months, which provides enough time for to recuperate. “I am set to go, I am ready for the holidays, and I feel great,” said Sarah Love, of Sunrise, who received Perlane fillers last weekend courtesy of her husband. His card to her read: “Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas and go have fun!”

The procedure, done at Dr. Shashi Kusuma’s office in Plantation, evened out lines around the side of her nose and plumped up her lips. “People like to get a little freshened up,” said Kusuma, whose business goes up by 30 percent during the holidays. Love, 52, says she’s happy with the youthful face that stares back in the mirror. “My first gathering is Thanksgiving, so I wanted to make sure I had it done before,” she said. “If you receive it as a gift for Christmas, it’s almost better to get it done a couple weeks before.”

 

Doctors and gift-givers say people are more willing to lavishly spend on a gift during the holidays than for a birthday or Mother’s or Father’s Day. Prices can run anywhere from $500 to a few thousand, depending on whether the gift involves injectable treatments or invasive surgical ones.

While such gifts are certainly generous, The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and some local doctors strongly suggest that people who accept these procedures as holidays presents are truly having them done for themselves and not because they were paid for by a loved one or friend. “Make sure that the idea for plastic surgery came from the person who intends to have it, and not from a well-meaning spouse, relative or friend,” says ASAPS website, which also lists qualified plastic surgeons. “The gift has to be self-motivated and not because the partner is interested,” said Dr. Paul Wigoda, a plastic surgeon in Fort Lauderdale.

 

It’s also important that the recipient have real expectations about the results of the procedure and potential for complications. “It’s not like a piece of clothing that you can throw away. It’s something that you do to your body,” said Kusuma, the Plantation surgeon. “It has to be given with a lot of thought and hindsight and research. You have to make sure that there is a conversation to determine what the patient actually needs.”

 

Sheila Manners already knows what her husband, Harry, will buy her for Hanukkah: Botox! “When you look good, you feel good,” said the Weston wife, 76, who asks for the treatment to smooth out lines around her forehead every year. “He is so happy that he doesn’t have to wonder what to get me.”

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