Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Eyelash Transplant: UK First

Surgeons are claiming to have made medical history with a pioneering transplant – but it won't be saving any lives. Cosmetic surgeons have performed Britain's first successful eyelash transplant, in which hair from the back of the patient's head is grafted on to the eyelid to give long, thick lashes.

With luscious lashes up there with clear skin and white teeth as a must-have for many women, surgeons believe that the £3,500 operation will prove popular. The four-hour procedure, which is already widely performed in the US, was undertaken by the plastic surgery firm Transform.
But as well as offering an alternative to false eyelashes or lashings of mascara for women desperate to look doe-eyed, the procedure is recommended for trichotillomania, an impulsive condition which causes sufferers to pull out their own hair; alopecia suffers; and cancer patients who have suffered hair loss.

The first UK patient to undergo the surgery was 19-year-old Louise Thomas (not her real name), from Manchester, who suffers from trichotillomania.

"Having suffered from trichotillomania for 17 years, I learned to accept that I'd never have real lashes again. That's quite a hard issue for a young girl to come to terms with," Ms Thomas said. "The results are absolutely amazing! I feel so feminine again and simple things like being able to wear mascara have made such a difference to my confidence."

"There are some people who have lost eyelashes through burns or alopecia, whom a little refinement could help enormously," said David Gault, a consultant plastic surgeon and member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps).

"However, if you just want longer eyelashes, I would think about it. If the surgeon put an eyelash in at slightly the wrong angle then the patient would not get the results they want".
The procedure is billed as "pain free and minimally invasive", but because the transplant eyelashes do not fall out naturally like ordinary eyelashes, they need to be trimmed every six weeks.

The technique was pioneered in the US to help burns victims, but has grown in popularity. Recent research by the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery revealed that "eyelash rejuvenation" topped the wish list of procedures. Another US eyelash enhancer tipped to hit UK shores is Latisse, an ointment that was originally a treatment for glaucoma but which causes eyelashes to grow longer and thicker.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Facelift eases migraine pain

A simple operation that ends the misery of migraines while rejuvenating the face has been devised by surgeons. The one-hour procedure offers fresh hope to the millions whose lives are blighted by crippling headaches. In the UK, migraines affect one in eight men and women and lead to more sick days than any other illness - costing the economy billions a year. Current drugs have side-effects and do not work for everyone, but the operation, which is based on the forehead lifts carried out by cosmetic surgeons, is more than 90 percent effective at easing the pain.

And it has few side-effects, the official journal of the American Society of Plastic surgeons reports. Professor Bahman Guyuron, the leading plastic surgeon who made the discovery, said: "I have a huge number of patients who have not had any symptoms for over five years. "They tell me, one after the other, that their lives have changed."

Guyuron, a director of the American Board of Plastic Surgery who has published more than 150 articles in respected medical journals, stumbled on the idea while carrying out forehead lifts for cosmetic purposes. He realised that removal of the "frown muscle", or Corrugator supercilii, seemed to stem migraines. Guyuron believes many migraines are caused by nerves in face, neck or scalp being irritated by over-tight muscles and that removing or loosening these eases the pressure and therefore the pain. He has carried out numerous studies into the technique and regularly trains other surgeons.

The "frown muscle" is most commonly operated on, providing the added benefit of a smoother forehead. Other migraine hotspots include the temporalis muscle, which is found in the temples and plays an important role in chewing. Stopping it triggering migraines results in the eyebrows being shifted slightly to the side - and a more youthful look. In his latest study into the subject, Guyuron has compared the surgery with a dummy treatment in which patients were operated on but their muscles left intact.

Forty-nine men and women with severe migraines had the proper operation and 26 the other procedure. A year later, 57 percent of patients who had the full operation had been cured, compared with just 4 percent in the other group. In all, 83 percent of those who had muscle removed said their migraines were much less severe or had stopped. But when other studies involving more than 400 patients are taken into account, the success rate soars to above 90 percent.

Guyuron said: "Patients are back to work in a week or less and the benefits last for the rest of their lives. I would not call the surgery radical. If it was a 10-hour operation I would call it radical. "There was no cure for migraines until I discovered this op. Every patient had to take medication to reduce the potential of migraines or to take the symptoms away." Lee Tomkins, of British charity Migraine Action, welcomed the innovation but said: "Caution is needed until a scientific assessment of such an intervention is made. We would certainly encourage any future clinical trials."