New Era In Plastic Surgery

Health New Digest

by Health New Digest | July 2, 2001 @ 01:00PM

E-MailE-Mail PrintPrint Share Text Size Down Text Size UpText Size

"Tissue Glue" Method Allows for Three-Day Recovery, Increased Comfort

Until recently, cosmetic surgery was generally a messy affair, with swelling, bruising, drains, and other discomforts an inevitable part of the process. To make matters worse, operations took weeks to heal, forcing many patients into hiding until they were presentable.

No more. With a procedure in which skin tissue is "glued" to its underlying layers by means of an adhesive spray made from blood products, plastic surgery has taken a revolutionary step into the future, according to Dr. Barry DiBernardo, a leading expert in the field. The cost? About $500 more than an ordinary procedure would cost.

Under the "tissue glue" method, cosmetic operations are far easier for both patient and doctor, reducing recovery time dramatically and doing away with most of the negative aspects of surgery and post-op. In addition, changing the shape of, say, a face becomes an almost sculptural process, with the tissue molded into position with the aid of the adhesive, giving the physician far more control over the outcome than by conventional means.

Transforming the face of aesthetic surgery did not happen overnight. The tissue glue -- also known as fibrin sealant -- has been used in some six million operations in Europe and elsewhere over the course of about 20 years, although it has usually been limited to cardiac, neurosurgery, and general surgery -- not for cosmetic purposes. Now, plastic surgeons in the United States, such as Dr. DiBernardo, have taken the procedure into the arena of facial and neck surgery, as well as tummy tucks and buttock lifts.

"The things that we took for granted for 30 years -- that patients would swell up a lot, that they'd be black and blue, that we'd have to put in drains because of the fluid that collects under the skin -- that's all gone," says Dr. DiBernardo, Chief Surgeon at New Jersey Plastic Surgery, whose other specialties are laser surgery and hair transplantation.

While some minor sutures are still required, the patient is able to recover from the operation far more quickly than before. "I did one woman 24 hours ago," Dr. DiBernardo said in a recent interview, referring to a patient in her early 50s whose face and neck required attention. "She was back in the office at 12 today. I took her dressing off; she had no drains, no swelling, no black-and-blue. She looked as though she was three weeks out of surgery."

Using the fibrin glue, the doctor says, smoothes the process for both surgeon and patient. "It makes my post-op easier. And for them, from the time they wake up, that's where the real difference is."

A second patient of Dr. DiBernardo's, on whom he operated in January, says she is "very happy" with the results on her neck and face. "It worked, and it was great," says the 59-year-old Belleville, NJ, woman, who had never had plastic surgery before and asked not to be named. "I've had a lot of compliments. I have a few envious friends."

The sealant, she says, "keeps down the swelling and the bruising because it keeps the skin in place, with no pockets." The woman's decision to undergo cosmetic surgery under Dr. DiBernardo was prompted by positive reviews for some of his prior performances. "A couple of women who'd had previous surgery with him had the best things to say," she recalls. "And I liked Dr. DiBernardo because he took a lot of time if you wanted to discuss something. I trusted him."

Ordinarily, as part of the healing process, the body adheres to itself after it has been cut, creating its own form of fibrin glue. But it takes time and, until that happens, stitches and bandages hold the skin in place. By contrast, under the newly available procedure, the fibrin sealant is applied with a special tool so that tissue adheres immediately, vastly speeding up healing and recovery.

"Instead of waiting days to weeks, you've waited three minutes," the doctor says. "The big advantage is that when we spray it in, we can hold and mold the space the way we want to. We've created a sculpture of the image we want to create."

Since the sealant --which was approved by the FDA in May 1998 -- is derived from human plasma, its U.S. manufacturer, Baxter Healthcare Corp., takes extraordinary precautions to ensure that the product is safe. "There have been no viral transmissions documented to date anywhere in the world," a company spokeswoman says.

Another of Dr. DiBernardo's patients, Lynne Martino, recalls returning to the doctor's office the day after her facial surgery in April so that he could remove her supportive bandages. "I didn't know what to expect, but I was astounded because it was beautiful," she says. "I just looked refreshed, vibrant, healthy, glowing -- all those things. I was so happy."

Martino, of Montvale, NJ, went to a wedding two days later "and no one knew I'd had surgery," she says. "No one said one word except how beautiful I looked. That's not bragging. It's a fact."

According to Martino, the process was "wonderful...there was so little discoloration, so little discomfort, so little swelling. I have a 30-year-old son and people always think I'm his sister. Maybe now they'll think I'm his younger sister."

Dr. Barry DiBernardo is director of New Jersey Plastic Surgery, based in Montclair, NJ, and specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Dr. DiBernardo serves as Clinical Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He is also the author of numerous scientific articles, conducts research on new procedures and is an instructor of new laser and plastic surgical techniques to doctors worldwide.

This article provided by 

Back to Top

blog comments powered by Disqus
Plastic Surgery Studios Network ienhance Beauty Chat Blog iEnhance on Facebook iEnhance on Twitter