A special guest article by Richard Buckley, MD, a cosmetic surgeon practicing in Milford, PA.
The rumor mill is bustling about actor Tom Cruise’s puffy appearance at a recent awards event in London. Many have long suspected the 50-year-old has maintained his youthful looks with the help of cosmetic surgery procedures. But this most recent change in his face suggests even mega-stars can end up with less than optimal cosmetic surgery results.
Under the microscope
Before I go into why Cruise’s face may have appeared puffy and how to avoid such a result, it’s important to note that any cosmetic appearance that looks abnormal can imply cosmetic surgery went awry. Great cosmetic procedures do not look stretched, pulled, misshapen, filled or puffy.
Having said that, it’s common for procedures, including surgery and nonsurgical facial rejuvenation, to create temporary swelling, puffiness or bruising. Those expected temporary effects should resolve. The more invasive the procedure, the longer the healing process. The swelling from a facelift, for example, can take a year to fully resolve. So, it could be that Cruise had recent cosmetic surgery and the resulting puffiness hadn’t gone down at the time of the photo. Temporary side effects, like puffiness, can occur after injecting fillers. But this resolves usually within days, unless the fillers were overdone.
It’s worth noting that Sculptra can cause puffiness, especially if it’s done incorrectly. Sculptra is a substance we use to sculpt and fill the face, but is not considered a filler. Sculptra stimulates the body’s fibroblast cells to make more native collagen. A patient won’t see the full effect of a Sculptra treatment for about 9 months. What that means is the doctor has to carefully and correctly judge how much Sculptra is needed in order to create the future effect. This judgment is based on understanding the product and experience.
Another cause of prolonged puffiness: is too much fat grafting. We very successfully use patients’ own fat to replace lost facial and other volume. But we’ve had patients come to us because they had fat grafting to the face at other facilities years ago, and it never “went down.” We often approach the problem by using a microcannula and ultra-fine liposuction to rid the face of the excess facial fat. Again, that’s an avoidable side effect, caused by injector inexperience or an expectation that less fat will establish itself.
There are other possibilities…
Cruise’s notably different appearance might have nothing to do with cosmetic surgery. Facial changes or puffiness could have medical roots. Some medicines, such as steroid therapy used to treat many conditions, from seasonal allergies and asthma to inflammatory bowel disease and cancer, can cause a puffy appearance. Something as common as having wisdom teeth pulled can affect facial appearance for weeks or more.
Finally, there’s one other thing that often contributes to bad cosmetic results—especially among those who are most scrutinized for their looks. It’s the obsession with looking young. Looking young should be a passion; not an obsession. Too much of a good thing (fillers, Botox, laser resurfacing, surgery, etc.) doesn’t make one look younger. Done too much and inappropriately, cosmetic surgery can make a person look strange.
Follow these tips to avoid bad results
You can avoid undesirable results, including long-term puffiness, from cosmetic surgery.
Align with an experienced cosmetic surgeon who shares your views of what constitutes an esthetically pleasing, great result.
Have a healthy sense of self. Don’t rely on cosmetic surgery to make you feel good about yourself.
Have realistic expectations. Turning the hands of time back a decade is reasonable and possible. Turning it back three decades is not.
Lead a healthy lifestyle to promote a youthful, healthy appearance. Remember, medical conditions and treatments can change your looks. By being as healthy as you can be (on the inside), you’ll look younger on the outside. And your results from cosmetic surgery tend to be better.
Photo Source: Splash News Australia