Cosmetic Medicine Is About More Than Just Beauty & Vanity - It Can Be True Healing on Many Levels

Michael R. Macdonald, MD

Article by
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon

As a San Francisco facial plastic surgeon of nearly 20 years, I have seen my share of extreme vanity and obsessiveness about aesthetic perfection. However, that is not the type of patient I typically attract as I have a reputation for taking a very natural-looking approach to cosmetic improvements. I have also been known to recommend to patients that they should have absolutely no cosmetic work done or less invasive procedures when I feel that's what's in their best interests.

That said, I also am not afraid to be candid with patients and recommend cosmetic treatments a patient may not have known about or considered if I think it will benefit them. This is particularly true in the case of various so-called "cosmetic treatments" that can be applied to resolve real medical conditions that may be affecting your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Three "cosmetic procedures" I personally have undergone have changed my life for the better and it always makes me happy to pay it forward by informing and treating other patients who can benefit.

So, if you suffer from hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), TMJ or TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders) or Snoring with or without Sleep Apnea...read on to hear my personal story of relief.

(1) Botox or Dysport treatment for axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)

I have been receiving these treatments ever since Allergan was FDA approved for this indication in 2004. It has eliminated many an embarrassing social situation for me. Overactive sweat glands are a sympathetic nervous systems response out of our control and can seemingly be triggered by stress, emotions, and reasons unknown. One thing we know for sure is that this extreme reaction by our bodies can certainly be the source of diminished self-confidence and can be socially disabling for anyone, especially young women. If you suffer from excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) under your arms, on the palms of your hands, or the soles of your feet – ask me about the treatment.

Allergan, the makers of Botox, have a discount program in place for patients that suffer from hyperhidrosis but cannot afford the full price of the treatments. Allergan has long recognized how damaging to a person’s self-esteem this problem can be. My patient coordinator Jodi is happy to help you apply for this program.


(2) Botox or Dysport treatment for chronic TMJ syndrome

A few years ago, I lost almost 15 pounds in a matter of weeks because I was experiencing  TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) dysfunction (also called TMD – Temporomandibular Disorders) so severely that I was unable to chew normally. TMD is often stress related and, if you are afflicted with it (surprisingly, 20-30% of the adult population is), your dentist has likely noticed that your molars are worn down and may have asked whether you grind your teeth.

Botox, Dysport and Xeomin all contain the active ingredient botulinum neurotoxin Type A (BoNT/A), and all are viewed as fairly equal products interchangeably used by plastic surgeons and cosmetic dermatologists to minimize wrinkles that deepen with age caused by repetitive facial expressions. Although these products are also commonly used by many reputable physicians for off-label purposes, it is important to note that none of them are currently FDA-approved for TMD treatment.

That said, in my personal experience, after receiving a single Botox treatment to relieve my TMD associated muscle spasm, my jaw pain resolved completely and has not returned since.


(3) Medtronic’s Pillar Procedure for treatment of snoring and sleep apnea

For years I was plagued by periods of daytime drowsiness, particularly when doing something sedentary and somewhat passive like reading on the computer, watching TV, or even driving (scary!). I knew that my snoring and sleep apnea was the source of my fatigue as it prevented me from getting the essential amount of quality deep sleep cycle I needed.

For years I tried to ignore the problem because I found use of a CPAP to be a nuisance and I wasn’t convinced that the radical surgery options were all that effective given that I am a board-certified Head & Neck Surgeon (in addition to a Facial Plastics Surgeon) and hence had performed many UPPP surgeries. Then along came a little company called Restore Medical (now owned by Medtronic) that created the Pillar treatment.

Within about a year of providing this minimally invasive office procedure to patients, I was convinced it would work for me too. Of course, I was further prompted by my wife-to-be at the time who wasn’t sleeping well either because of my snoring. I am happy to report that since having undergone the Pillar Procedure nearly 8 years ago now:
• my snoring is about 95% resolved
• I feel so much more rested when I wake up in the morning, and
• indeed, a happy wife does make a happy life :)

All kidding aside, I am very glad my wife pushed me to deal with my snoring problem (it's tough for a surgeon to submit to being a patient). If your wife (or husband) is pushing you to do the same, make an appointment to see me so I can assess whether Pillar may also be appropriate to relieve your snoring problem. Especially when accompanied by sleep apnea, snoring is no simple "cosmetic" problem - it truly affects your health and your partner's, not to mention your intimacy...and we all want plenty of that!

I hope my personal story helps you act on behalf of your own healing. You deserve it.