Verve visited three of Auckland’s top plastic surgeons to get the lowdown on facelifts — what’s involved, approximate costs and recovery time. Because when it comes to plastic surgery, research is crucial.
Mark Gittos was New Zealand’s first Maori plastic surgeon. He works between Auckland and Melbourne as well as Essex and Harley Street in the United Kingdom.
Mark trained in Christchurch, Auckland and Australia and after qualifying, he went to the UK. Fifteen years later he returned home but maintained his English practice. Mark’s easy manner soon relaxed Jude as he asked her what she felt she needed.
“Have you got any health issues like diabetes, clotting, any allergies to drugs or latex rubber or any psychiatric concerns?” asked Mark. “Anything we do here—although it’s cosmetic—is still surgery and although I’m a surgeon the underlying foundation is that I’m a doctor so must ensure I’ve got the whole envelope, so to speak. We treat the whole patient not just the issue at hand.”
What Is Your Main Concern?
“What is your main concern?” asked Mark. Jude asked what he’d suggest but he replied that it didn’t work that way. “You can say, ‘Mark, I’m worried about this or that’ and I will tell you, ‘from my experience you could do this or that’.
“If you came to me and said that you look at your eyes each day and they drive you nuts, I’d say that you’re a good candidate to consider eyelid surgery. But if you said that you caught yourself in the mirror once a month or a year and didn’t like what you saw then I’d say to leave it alone.”
“You say your eyes bother you and looking at you, you’ve got a very nice face, good bone structure and very good skin and if you wanted to have something done with your eyes I would think upper lid blepharoplasty—which takes away the skin of the upper eyelid—would be what I’d recommend. The beauty of this operation is that it’s very moderate for a very big result. It takes about 45 minutes, and you can have it under local. The cost always depends but overall it would probably be in the region of $4,000-6,000. In some cases, if your vision is impaired, it’s covered by health insurance.
“Blepharoplasty is a safe, effective freshen up. The other thing I would suggest is Botox in your forehead because the pressure muscles there pull the eyebrow down and in. I recommend it because the muscles I’m talking about can scrunch up the eyelids; then I’d add some Botox coming up in a fan shape so the upper muscles pull upwards giving a lift effect. In your case, doing anything with your lower lids wouldn’t be worth your while.”
Anything we do here – although it’s cosmetic – is still surgery.”
Face & Necklift
“At some stage, if you wanted to look at working with the age-related changes in the cheek region. A facelift would be rejuvenating and you would look natural and healthy. When we say facelift we really mean necklift because we’re talking about the lower two-thirds of the face and the upper half of the neck. That whole zone is lifted and rejuvenated.”
The cost of a face and necklift depends on who you’re talking to but depending on where you went in Auckland it might be anything from $20,000-40,000.
“There’s normally a six-week lead-in. We do a 30-40 minute consultation first, then you’d go away and think about it. I’d write you a letter summarising what we discussed. If you decided to have the surgery you’d come back, we’d have one or two more meetings followed by a sign-off meeting.
“If you’re having something done that requires preparation and marking like breast reduction or tummy tuck I ask you to come back the day before so we can do the markings. It’s easier doing this part of the process in the light of day with no time pressure. Done pre-operatively it’s often in a dark room with bad lighting, patients are nervous and I can almost guarantee we’d be interrupted which can be embarrassing for people. I think coming here is a nicer way to proceed. The next day we do the surgery and you might stay one or two nights in hospital before going home.”
How Safe Is Plastic Surgery?
Any plastic surgeon I know of in this country is very good, and it’s safe. But it’s not inexpensive. The hospital element of surgery is expensive here and that’s why we have people going to Thailand, which we’re not very happy about for several reasons. Often people who go to Thailand for surgery can’t afford for it to go wrong and I’m uncomfortable about the potential for it to be a sales and marketing process, which could be a conflict of interest. Thai surgeons are highly trained and competent, it’s not a criticism of them, it’s a criticism of the process and the environment that drives people to Thailand, which is partly due to the high cost of hospitalisation here.