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Pittsburgh Facial Plastic Surgeon Discusses Surgical Vs. Non-Surgical Cosmetic Enhancement

August 25, 2015

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Dr. Paul L. Leong of Sistine Plastic Surgery talks about the benefits of surgical and non-surgical facial rejuvenation and who is typically a good candidate for each type of procedure.

Pittsburgh, PA – According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, more than 10 million cosmetic enhancement procedures were performed in 2014 alone. Rhinoplasty (nose surgery) and eyelid surgery were two of the most popular surgical treatments, while injectable procedures such as BOTOX® Cosmetic and JUVÉDERM® remained the most frequently performed non-surgical procedures. Dr. Paul Leong, a facial plastic surgeon in Pittsburgh and the Greensburg area, says there are a number of factors that go into determining whether patients are better suited to surgical or non-surgical facial enhancement. “I am very transparent about the limitations and risks of procedures – surgical and non-surgical. In the case of aging face procedures, if they are seeing fairly early signs of aging and want to do ‘something,’ but not yet commit to the financially, psychologically, and logistically more taxing experience of surgery, patients may be better candidates for non-surgical procedures. If a patient wants BOTOX® Cosmetic and expects an outcome that is unrealistic based on their goals and anatomy, I’ll likely let them know that a surgical option, if appropriate, is more suited to their goals and expectations.”

Dr. Leong views surgical and non-surgical procedures moreso as two complementary sets of tools, rather than an either/or proposition. “For example, plenty of patients who have a facelift surgery can benefit from ongoing modest non-surgical treatments to maintain an optimal result. What’s critical is that the patient has a guide through the process who can impartially help decide what makes the most sense at each stage of the aging process. I find that many patients who see me for years for non-surgical treatments often use their appointments to ask questions about the possibility of surgical treatments a little further in the future.”

As a facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Leong says he is equally enthusiastic about surgical and non-surgical treatments – it’s just a matter of what is best for the particular patient. “I feel this is an advantage for the patient. If the patient’s physician is only trained in non-surgical procedures, it’s unlikely the patient is going to get a fully comprehensive view of their options, it’s just human nature to emphasize what you can actually do. On the other hand, if the physician outsources most of their non-surgical procedures to extenders, they will inevitably be more biased toward surgical intervention. I feel the best balance is the provider who can do both (surgical vs non-surgical) and who is equally enthusiastic about both.”

Dr. Leong says non-surgical procedures are often beneficial for patients who want to see how happy they are with a relatively low-commitment procedure first, then later consider proceeding to a surgical procedure. Many non-surgical procedures, such as injectable treatments, can reduce prominent signs of age along the face and add volume to facial features; however, the results are not as long-lasting as those associated with a facelift, eyelid surgery, or other surgical facial treatments. Dr. Leong says non-surgical options can also be advantageous for those who can’t spare the downtime that would be necessary with invasive treatment, as well as for patients who simply can’t afford a major surgical procedure. “I make clear what the risks are and the commitment that is required for a surgical procedure. We are really, really honest and transparent with our patients. I work to get an understanding of their goals. As they articulate their goals, it’s often possible to figure out which way (surgical vs. non-surgical) they are leaning.”

Questions about downtime, the length results can last, the risks of the procedure, and the potential for achieving the patient’s goals are a few of the most common inquiries he receives during the initial consultation, Dr. Leong says. “I let them know – in a very transparent way – all of the risks, the pros and cons, and the limitations of what various procedures can and can’t do. I empower them to optimally make their own choices. That’s not to say that I don’t educate them on what their options are, but we don’t push anything.” He notes that the best option for one’s needs and goals truly depends on his or her unique circumstances. The patient’s age, the severity of wrinkles or skin inelasticity, medical history, the goals they want to achieve, the recovery time they are willing and able to accept, and many other issues will help determine whether surgical or non-surgical treatment is ideal.

Dr. Leong advises individuals considering facial rejuvenation treatments or other cosmetic procedures to schedule a consultation with a qualified, board-certified facial plastic surgeon or plastic surgeon and be completely honest about their goals. He says any type of cosmetic treatment is a true collaboration between doctor and patient, and the more a patient understands what can be accomplished with certain procedures, the greater the chances of success.

About Paul L. Leong, MD

Dr. Paul Leong is certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He earned his medical degree from the Yale University School of Medicine, and completed his residencies in General Surgery and Otolaryngology (head and neck surgery), as well as a Fellowship in Advanced Head and Neck Surgical Oncology, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Leong went on to complete a Fellowship in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Oregon Health Sciences University. He is a member of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Leong’s practice, Sistine Plastic Surgery, offers a comprehensive range of both surgical and non-surgical facial rejuvenation procedures. Dr. Leong is available for interview upon request.

For more information about Dr. Leong and Sistine Plastic Surgery, please visit and


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