Beauty and health hacks might be going viral on social media, but some professional plastic surgeons simply aren't having it.
For Dr. Richard Brown in Scottsdale, Arizona, being honest with his patients is the most important aspect of his work.
“There are no magic pills, there are no magic drinks, (and) there are no tricks,” Brown, a private practice plastic and reconstructive surgeon, tells TODAY.com.
Brown, who specializes in "below the neck" procedures, as he calls them, has been taking his expertise online to provide medical context to viral moments — such as how lipedema, a condition where fat accumulates in the lower body, is treated, and whether collagen masks really boost collagen production. (They don't, he says.)
Most of Brown's patients include women and men who want breast and body rejuvenation procedures.
"Many women are postpartum and have maxed out a meal plan and exercise routine. They no longer can achieve the final change they desire without surgical intervention," he says. "Many men suffer from gynecomastia, or male enlargement of the breasts, and I perform reductions for them, as well."
But there are some procedures Brown won't even consider.
"I do not perform any contour thread procedures," he says, referencing a minimally invasive procedure that lifts facial skin. "While I no longer do facial procedures, I did it for 10 years.
He tells TODAY.com the principals for lifting the face are completely contrary to what contour threads provide.
"Threads are very expensive, and they only last about six to eight months," Brown explains. "Once they dissolve, they leave behind scarring, so repetitive use can be very damaging not only to the face but to the pocketbook. I am all for minimally invasive procedures, (but) in this case, I feel hyaluronic acid fillers and neurotoxins are a better choice prior to eventually having a facelift, if desired."
The surgeon will also refuse patients seeking rib removal.
"Yep, people want ribs removed to make their waste narrower," Brown tells TODAY.com. "The rib cage is protective to the organs beneath the chest wall. In this situation, the cosmetic benefit to the patient does not outweigh the risk for me as a surgeon to perform the procedure."
Aside from specific cosmetic asks, Brown tells TODAY.com that he refuses to operate on patients who are actively using nicotine products.
"This is a deal breaker for me," he says, adding the presence of nicotine in the blood stream can cause a restriction of good blood supply, which hinders the healing of wounds.
"It’s presence in the bloodstream causes the small blood vessels to clamp down, like a noose, such that there is not good blood supply to incisions or the soft tissue," Brown says. "In the world of plastic surgery, it is a balance between beauty and blood supply. We literally take the body apart and put it back together and rely on excellent blood supply for things to heal properly. So, if you smoke, you hinder ability to heal and potentially could have disastrous wounds, dead tissue and horrific infections."
5 Things I Never Do As A Plastic Surgeon
Through his work in reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries, Brown tells TODAY.com there are certain things he would never do.
I would never leave the house without using sunscreen.
Brown says the best way to help prevent not only aging of the skin but skin cancer is to use sunscreen daily.
"One of my favorite products is EltaMD because it is a physical sunblock versus a chemical sunblock," he says. "They are zinc-based sunblocks, like what you see lifeguards wearing on the beach."
I would never use surgery as a substitute for living a healthy lifestyle.
Brown says this includes a good meal plan and moving your body.
"Cosmetic plastic surgery should only be a last resort," he tells TODAY.com. "You need to exhaust every option before going under the knife."
I would never use gimmick weight loss pills or fat burners.
Brown says there "is no such thing as easy street" when it comes to losing body fat — there are no quick fixes.
"It is always best to see your doctor for a full set of labs and then seek a certified nutrition specialist who can help make a plan that best fits your needs to get your body where you want it to be."
I would never see a surgeon who is not board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
The Arizona-based doctor warns that there are "so many" doctors pretending to be plastic surgeons without the training to back it up.
"The minimum requirement is that the surgeon has passed the written exam and the oral exam in front of the plastic surgery board," he says. "Then, it’s up to you to research which ones are the best in there are of expertise."
I would never use any facial filler that is not dissolvable.
"Even skilled injectors have complications," Brown explains. "We have an injection that can dissolve it immediately and reverse any issue caused by the filler. With permanent fillers, you are not able to do this."