When is it best to do which procedure in plastic surgery? Are there rules or is it just about preference and lifestyle? Park Avenue plastic surgeon, Dr. Lawrence Bass explains which principles come into play when selecting a time of year for a given plastic surgery procedure. He also shares what procedures people are most likely to do in a given season. Facelift in summer or winter? Body contouring with liposuction or with non-surgical technologies like CoolSculpting and SculpSure, when is best and why? Laser resurfacing (CO2 and Erbium:YAG laser peels) and laser pigment treatments are best in non-sunny times of year. But are there laser and energy based treatments that are OK in the summer? The details will help you plan when a treatment might fit into your busy schedule or how to lay out your beauty plan for safety and convenience during the course of a year.
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Doreen Wu (00:00):
Welcome to another episode of Park Avenue, Plastic Surgery Class, the podcast where we explore controversies and breaking issues in plastic surgery. I’m your cohost Doreen Wu and I’m excited to be here with Dr. Lawrence Bass Park Avenue plastic surgeon, educator, and technology innovator. The title of today’s episode is seasons of beauty planning your care to match the season. I hear all kinds of things about when it is, or is not okay to go ahead with a facelift or liposuction or a particular laser. Are most of these recommendations fact or fiction, how much effort should I put into planning based on the season?
Dr. Lawrence Bass (00:40):
Well, Doreen, you know, seasons differ in a few different ways, and that speaks to how we feel about doing a given plastic surgery treatment. Of course, the weather changes. There are seasons that are hot. There are seasons that are cold and more temperate and balanced. The amount of sun exposure we get in different seasons varies. And that includes some cold seasons. If you go skiing and you’re at high altitude, your face at least is getting a bunch of sun. So sun exposure changes by season. And most importantly, in modern life, our activities are totally different in different seasons. There’s some times of the year we’re busy working. There are the holidays. Uh, there’s times when, when school age people are busy at school, uh, summertime, we like to have a little more sports and be outdoors. There are times of year when we tend to travel more and all of this is going to speak to how convenient it is and how medically suitable it is for us to proceed with a given treatment. So, as I mentioned, there are medical issues. Uh, sun can damage skin, that’s fresh from certain kinds of treatments or surgeries. And then there are convenience issues. Will I disrupt my life too much? If I do something in a certain season, again, most people don’t want to miss out on summer travel or outdoor sports, uh, so that tempers their desire to do a treatment, even if medically, it might be perfectly fine.
Doreen Wu (02:23):
Okay. Based on what you’ve said, it sounds like there is some truth to this, but what are some common misconceptions that people have?
Dr. Lawrence Bass (02:31):
Well, one misconception is that you can’t do any laser or energy based treatments in the summer. And that’s certainly true for some of the treatments, but there are many treatments that are perfectly safe in the summer. Even if we’re getting a certain amount of sun now, as a plastic surgeon, I hope that everybody who’s listening tries to limit their sun exposure, wears their sunscreen, recognizes both the skin wrinkling risk of sun exposure and the skin cancer risk of sun exposure. Uh, but that being said, you know, there are treatments that we continue all summer long because that’s when folks are free to come in and there are certain kinds of laser treatments that, that stop for summertime. We take a little rest and regroup in the fall. So that’s one big category. And again, I mentioned earlier that sun is a big factor because any skin that has been treated with surgery or, or other medical treatments can be a little more fragile and susceptible to sun.
Dr. Lawrence Bass (03:41):
Uh, another misconception that a lot of patients come in and mention to me, which is how I find out about them is that, you know, they shouldn’t have surgery in a hot or humid season. Well, medically there’s really no reason you can’t do that. You’ll heal perfectly fine, but it may not be as comfortable if you’re not in an air conditioned environment where you have to spend time outdoors, you may find it less comfortable to be healing from certain things or wearing a surgical garment. If it’s a, a warmer or more humid time of year. So, uh, that’s a convenience issue, but medically, there’s nothing stopping you. I’ve, I’ve also heard, you know, winter is better for facelift. Uh, and again, there’s no particular medical reason why that’s better. It just, for a lot of folks ends up being when they have time in the schedule or they find it easier to camouflage their appearance, because in winter, if you’re wearing a turtleneck or a scarf that looks perfectly natural. And if it’s August and you’re in a turtle neck, it looks a little funny,
Doreen Wu (04:53):
Right? Those are definitely some misconceptions that I’ve heard in passing as well. Now that we’ve cleared those up, what are some real seasonal restrictions that people should be aware of?
Dr. Lawrence Bass (05:03):
Well, the big one is laser resurfacing. These are laser peels or chemical peels by the same token where the skin surface is stripped off and the skin is raw for a period of several days until it has a chance to heal after that the skin is sensitive and heavy sun exposure will, uh, will delay healing will create more redness, increases the risk of hyperpigmentation or a temporary darkening in a blotchy irregular fashion of the skin, which will eventually go away, but is very disruptive in the meantime. So being careful about sun with laser resurfacing is definitely a real concern and something we always advise patients about. Uh, if we’re doing any kind of pigment treatment on skin, uh, we also want to be very cautious about sun exposure and tend to either do it in a not so sunny time of year or have to restrict sun exposure for a period of time.
Dr. Lawrence Bass (06:10):
I mean, I’m in New York City. So for me, I have seasons where there’s not that much sun and patients can do a treatment. That’s a little more worrisome about sun exposure. And then I have seasons that are sunny, uh, like summer where we just turn off some of the riskier laser treatments in terms of these concerns. If you’re in a place like Southern California or Texas or Florida, there’s a good amount of sun anytime of year. And so it, it requires a little different strategy to work these things out. Even sun on skin that’s recently had surgery. It’s not as big a concern, but that skin is a little more sensitive, more susceptible to sunburn. So it doesn’t mean that you can’t do those treatments in the summer, but you’re going to have to just be a little more cautious for a certain period of time. And this is an issue for people. If their activities involve heavy sun exposure for long periods of time. So people who love hiking or boating, tennis golf, or spend hours in the garden, these people are getting a lot of sun exposure, even if they’re being careful with a floppy hat that shades their face and with, with good quality sunscreen. So they may have to think carefully about doing a lot of treatment or certain kinds of treatments and surgeries at the time of year they’re heavily engaged in those activities.
Doreen Wu (07:50):
Okay, let’s get down to it. I wanna hear in general, which season is most appropriate for which beauty treatment, why don’t we start with winter?
Dr. Lawrence Bass (07:59):
So winter, this is a good season for laser surfacing or any kind of aggressive recovery based wrinkle treatments, and treatments for pigment. Most face body surgery is also very suitable for winter time. And it’s a common time that people come in to clean up weight gain. They got during the holidays and do a little contouring, uh, or they get that facelift because in the springtime they may have business meetings or they may have charity events and winter is less socially busy time. Everyone stays home and gets cabin fever. And that’s the perfect time to be recovering from a surgery because much easier to keep that under wraps and on the QT than when there’s social activities. Once, twice, three times a week, uh, going from there into spring spring is, is a good laser season all around. And spring is the season for both surgical and non-surgical body contouring.
Dr. Lawrence Bass (09:14):
And the reason it’s spring and not summer is you need a little recovery time. If you’re going to do a tummy tuck or liposuction, and while you can get the nonsurgical or noninvasive body contouring like CoolSculpting, ScuplSure, uh, during the spring, it takes six or more weeks and ideally 12 weeks to fully see the result. So by hitting your body contouring project in spring, by the time you have to get into that bathing suit or get into shorts and light clothing for summer, you’ve now got the most benefit from the treatment. Now people do body contouring all summer long, but they’re not going to enjoy the benefits maximally probably before we get to end of summer. So spring is the best time to think about that.
Dr. Lawrence Bass (10:13):
Summer ends up being mostly non-surgical treatments. And we talked about the reasons for that. There are the sun restrictions. Everyone wants to be traveling and doing outdoor things. And so they don’t want to be laid up recovering from surgery told they can’t do sports for two or four weeks and miss a good block of the summer. So some people still do that anyway, just because their, their work schedule or their social schedule is better for summer. But what everyone is going to hit in the summer is their various non-surgical treatments, uh, because they’re easy to do and they don’t slow you down from all the fun things you plan to do over summer.
Dr. Lawrence Bass (10:57):
Uh, if you’re at your house in the country and you don’t see many folks, maybe that’s a good time for your facelift, but that’s not right for everybody. And in general, there’s less big body surgery in summer, just because everyone again wants to be active and do sports. Finally, you know, we get to fall and that’s laser season again. And it’s probably the most important laser season of the year because everyone’s picked up some sun damage over the summer. Even if you’re being careful with sunscreen, a little bit of pigment redness, you know, the skin’s a little parched from getting sun bleached and, uh, and fall is the time to clean up that summer sun damage. And then late fall, uh, we start to get into the holidays in early winter and, uh, work slows down. So it’s easy for people to take time off compared to the many other parts of the year. And your family knows you’re doing the surgery anyway. So people will go to a few holiday parties, uh, deal with a few business commitments. And then you are at home with your family over the holidays anyway, and recovering from surgery at that time is usually easy. So, so fall and early winter tends to be a very popular surgery time of year. And again, then we get into that winter cabin fever when all of that also works. Um, and then the cycle starts all over again.
Doreen Wu (12:39):
All right, now, taking everything that you’ve just shared. How does this all come together for my beauty plan or beauty program of care?
Dr. Lawrence Bass (12:47):
Well, we say repeatedly on this podcast that it’s good to have a plan and a program where you’re systematically clicking through whatever treatments are appropriate for you at, at your current stage of aging. So if you’ve made a plan, then it makes it really easy. You just slot in the things that fit well in a given season that are part of your beauty plan. That way you’re not left in the 11th hour, trying to squeeze something in you’ve planned ahead. And, you know, you’re putting things where they fit best in the given season of the year. So you might do some microderm abrasion over the summer, but in fall and winter, you’re going to hit your laser treatments. You alternate your visits with some Botox and fillers between the energy based treatments, a recovery based peel. Uh, a lot of people, whether that’s a laser peel or a chemical peel, they’ll pick a three day weekend in the fall or in the winter, uh, and get that taken care of then because, uh, they’ll be able to go back to work or go back to social activities, looking presentable.
Dr. Lawrence Bass (14:10):
Um, another important point about your beauty program is skin products. And in my practice, I cycle by season with the skin products. So for example, retinol may increase your sun sensitivity. So that’s not a great product for summer, but spring and fall when sun is relatively light, but the air and the sun are not harsh is a good time to be on that kind of product. The same is true with glycolic acid, especially if you’re a hyper pigment, the sun can amplify the response to glycolic acid or other alpha beta hydroxy acids. So those are best in fall and spring. And in winter, when the air is very cold and dry and it’s windy, you want a more Amalian skin product, something that’s soothing and gentle and protective of the skin, a heavier product. And so that’s a good time for something non drying, like growth factors and not red nodes or acid based products. And the same is true in the summer. So this allows you to have a very efficient use of the products with no waste. You kind of get through a given portion of the product and instead of buying more of the same, you cycle to another product and eventually cycle back, it avoids waste and it keeps the skin from accommodating to the skin product by just staying on it for years at a time
Doreen Wu (15:46):
Before we conclude Dr. Bass, what are the most important takeaways for our listeners from today’s episode regarding the seasons of beauty?
Dr. Lawrence Bass (15:54):
Well, nowadays you can squeeze in almost anything almost anywhere if it’s really needed, but you know, there may be some restrictions. So if the only time you can do something is the summer, well, you may, you may be cutting yourself off from being outdoors in the sun. So if you really have to do it a certain time of year, for some compelling reason, there’s probably a way to get it done, but just understand with your plastic surgeon, what the limitations are going to be afterwards. Um, if you plan ahead, you don’t have to compromise quite so much because you can put it in a favorable season when it’s easy to do with a minimum of recovery and restrictions. And there’s also less compromise if you have a program of care because you lay out the whole program to put the necessary steps, whenever they’re easy to do and safe to do.
Dr. Lawrence Bass (16:53):
As I said earlier, in, in the podcast, some seasons are best for safety and medical considerations. Some seasons just make sense, body contouring right before summer, when you’re gonna show off the results or laser in early fall, when you’re gonna clean up summer sun damage. So that, that just makes sense, even though there’s nothing forcing you medically to do it for safety reasons. And as I said, it’s easier to camouflage surgery in the winter with heavy clothes and scarves. So sometimes that works for people and becomes a popular time of year for big surgery procedures. The other really good thing though, is that recovery is shorter nowadays, even for surgery, than it’s ever been before. And that makes the timing a little less critical than it used to be in the old days. There’s still some practical considerations to all of this. So it’s always good to plan ahead, but check in with your plastic surgeon, who will tell you what is safe and what works well as we heard, there are a lot of misconceptions floating around. So don’t presume you can’t get something done, ask and let, let your doctor tell you whether that’s going to work or not.
Doreen Wu (18:17):
That is very sound advice, and I certainly will take it into consideration. Thank you, Dr. Bass, for sharing your thoughts about the seasons of beauty and thank you to our listeners for joining us today, to hear about how the changing seasons can affect your beauty plan and how planning ahead can make all the difference. I hope you found this episode as informative and interesting as I did. If you think of other exciting developments in plastic surgery that you would like us to discuss in upcoming episodes, please reach out by email or Instagram. We’ll see you next time.
Speaker 3 (18:47):
Thank you for joining us in this episode of the Park Avenue Plastic Surgery Class podcast with Dr. Lawrence Bass Park Avenue plastic surgeon, educator, and technology innovator. The commentary in this podcast represents opinion. This podcast does not present medical advice, but rather general information about plastic surgery that does not necessarily relate to the specific conditions of any individual patient. No doctor patient relationship is established by listening to or participating in this podcast, consult your physician to advise you about your individual healthcare. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your friends and be sure to subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts.