Botched Argentina Facelift

I had a mid-face lift in Argentina last year and they used the "MAC" or "MC" procedure. For almost 1 year I had discolorations that ran along both sides of my cheeks and down to just under my chin -- I imagine this is the path of the "purse stitches" used. Mid-way through this healing period I went to another plastic surgeon, and he recommended a retinol topical cream -- but I can still see the line of the stitches. Is there any way to correct his. What should I do from here? I will NEVER go offshore for another surgery -- but that is a whole separate story!

Doctor Answers 7

Topical treatments can help

When you lift the skin of the face for a facelift of any kind two things happen:

  1. The ability of the skin to remove blood worsens temporarily (venous congestion)
  2. Blood that remains behind may leave heme (iron) pigment behind, staining the skin

Over time, venous congestion will correct itself as the body makes more tiny veins (neovascularization). The heme pigment problem, however, will need laser treatment to break down the discoloration.

As far as your palpable/visible sutures go, they will have to be removed it they bother you enough. Revision surgery over a MACS lift is not really a problem because your surgeon only plicated, or folded in, your excess SMAS (muscle covering) to tighten your lower face and jawline.

Redoing this same procedure (but without pursestring sutures) or converting to a below the SMAS dissection with absorbable sutures should be discussed with your revision surgeon.

Good luck.

Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

Your question is complex

The good news is that your surgery has had sufficiently long so that your results are likely to be permanent. That means that you are probably a candidate now for any revision procedures.

The solution to your problem depends on what exactly is going on.

In order to determine what your next step is, you should obtain a copy of your medical records, in their entirety. Next, you should go to a plastic surgeon highly skilled in revision plastic surgery. That surgeon should analyze you and your records carefully before proceeding with any firm recommendations. You may even want to have more than one opinion. It would simply be premature to you to render an opinion based on an internet posting, especially with no photographs.

The best solution to your problem might be as simple as applying a cream to as complex as having revision surgery with removal of the spanning sutures, performance of corrective lifts, revision of scars, etc.

As you have discovered, you are wise to avoid surgery in places where you are not protected by the laws and medical standards that offer significant protections to patients here.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

Discoloration after MACS lift can be improved.

The MACS lift (Minimal Access Cranial Suspension) is a type of short incision facelift described and popularized by Belgian plastic surgeons Alex Verpaele and Patrick Tonnard. Properly performed, this is an excellent procedure for the appropriate patient. It should not be confused with "branded" procedures such as "Lifestyle lift" or "Quick lift" operations which I do not recommend. These are typically high-hype, marketing gimmick type procedures that promise great results with little downtime and lower cost.

Offshore or other-country plastic surgery (also known as surgical tourism) is a nice topic for style and fashion magazines, and is sometimes touted as good and adventurous, and sometimes decried as terrible. Certainly there are excellent, well-trained, and experienced plastic surgeons all over the globe. But if you are lucky enough to find one, and unlucky enough to have a complication, then what will you do? The fact is, there are many more well-qualified, experienced, board-certified plastic surgeons available to you here in the US and even in your state than in any country you may consider traveling to for plastic surgery.

That all being said, the discoloration is not related specifically to the MACS procedure, but may be due to sutures causing bleeding and bruising that has persisted in your skin, or other vascular or inflammatory pigmentation issues. Laser treatments may be helpful, or other surgical intervention may be indicated. This may not be completely correctible.

See one or more ABPS board-certified plastic surgeons for more advice. Good luck.

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Offshore surgery

I am sorry to hear this..This is what can happen once there is a problem with offshore surgery. No one is really accountable. All the surgeons here including myself have had countless patients with complications from offshore surgeons. There are offshore surgeons who do great work but the ones who dont and who treat americans leave very dissatisfied patients. There are many reasons for the pigmentation. A retinol based cream may help but also a hydroxyquinone may help as well. This also just may take a tincture of time.

Chris Thiagarajah, MD
Denver Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Lasers can help

I agree with much of what was said in the previous posts...all good possible explanations.

Many vascular and pigmentation issues from surgery can be addressed with laser therapy.

Be sure to seek an opinion from a surgeon who is well versed in these techniques

Benjamin C. Marcus, MD
Madison Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Skin discoloration after facelift

Skin discoloration after a mini facelift can be caused by so many things. It can be secondayr healing issues, it can be tethering from the underlying sutures, it can be discoloration from vascular proliferation after undermining.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Many reasons can lead to skin discoloration after facelift

There are many reasons that can lead to skin discoloration after a facelift. Inflammation can cause increased blood vessel formation, which can lead to a red or bluish discoloration depending on the level of the vessel and whether they're due to an arterial or venous source.

Other reasons include iron deposits that can happen after bruising, and can leave a dark discoloration. Due to the inflammation, your skin becomes more sensitive and can develop a reactive process that can lead to post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and abnormal skin tanning. Each process can benefit from different treatments.

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 84 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.