Why Hollywood's Top Plastic Surgeons Are Saying "We'll Fix It in Post"

Illustration by Zohar Lazar

The industry's newest fixers share what it takes (anti-fillers, hyperbaric chambers) to reverse post-op puffiness, bruising and botox gone awry before stars hit the red carpet for awards season: "Celebrities tend to get the worst medical treatments."

Those who walk awards-season red carpets have long been scrutinized for sartorial choices, but these days, stars — and the projects they front — can be overshadowed and judged by something even more personal: their faces. The one-two punch of social media and high-definition TV has made even minimal post-procedure puffiness a source of potential ridicule. Twitter exploded when Tom Cruise walked 2016's BAFTA carpet with what some snarked were hamster cheeks and a frozen forehead, while in October 2014, after social and global media were finished cycling through, Renee Zellweger became momentarily more famous for being rendered unrecognizable by plastic surgery than for being an Oscar winner.

With the pressure to look flawless at awards shows, some stars might not allow enough time for cosmetic enhancements to settle, or they may be encouraged to go overboard. Some doctors say six weeks is an acceptable waiting time before stepping out after surgery, but others warn that a face still won't look optimal. "Nobody sends anyone for post-op photos earlier than six months, so why appear on the red carpet any earlier?'' says NYC plastic surgeon Robert Silich, an East Coast go-to for the Hollywood set. "A dirty little secret among plastic surgeons is that celebrities tend to get the worst medical treatments because too many doctors try to talk them into procedures just to have them as patients. A housewife would have a better chance of a good result.''

Enter Hollywood's newest fixers, whose repairing of overzealous work has become a burgeoning cottage industry, with even the least invasive revisions costing $500 to $1,200 a pop. "Five years ago, revision took up 10 percent of my time. Now it takes up more than a third,'' says American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery's Grant Stevens, a surgeon in Marina del Rey, while Park Avenue dermatologist Howard Sobel maintains that the fix has become a big part of his practice, particularly around awards season. Gabriel Chiu, founder of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery, was recently called in to help a major actress whose previous work — which included filler, neurotoxin, a thread lift and laser — "had changed her face considerably,'' he says. "In addition to the bluish 'Tyndall effect,' a result of hyaluronic filler being injected too close to the surface, her skin had become thinner with an unnatural sheen after being over-ablated from the laser, and she had an asymmetry never before seen on her face.'' Other experts offer the following quick fixes for residual puffiness, bruising and disproportion:

FOR BOTOX DROOP Sobel cautions that Botox gone awry can be a challenge: "A droopy eye or heavy lid from neurotoxins can't really be fixed, so don't do [a treatment] immediately before an event,'' he says. Fighting fire with fire sometimes works: "There are muscles you can inject with Botox to counteract some droopiness," says Silich. When all else fails, Alphagan or Lopodine drops can open up eyes affected by ptosis, or Botox droop, says Chiu.

IF 'OVERINFLATED' Fillers, one of the most commonly miscalculated beauty boosters, can often be dissolved. "If you get your injections a week ahead, you should look fine and natural, but if not, the enzyme hyaluronidase will get rid of any [excess] hyaluronic-based filler like Restylane or Juvederm'' within days, says Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Glenn Vallecillos. Mark Sultan, plastic and reconstructive surgery chief at NYC's St. Luke's-Roosevelt and Beth Israel medical centers, sometimes gives his clients steroids to minimize puffiness. "A Medrol pack, which is a short course of oral steroids, can be effective, along with lymphatic drainage massage,'' he says. You might avoid sodium to reduce bloat to fit into a gown, but San Diego-based surgeon Paul Chasan, who works with A-list actresses, says a low-salt diet can diminish facial ballooning when accompanied by vitamin K for bruising.

SPEEDY SOLUTIONS FOR THE SURGERIED Even for those who have cut the knife too close and not allowed sufficient time for full recovery before an awards show, there are remedies. "A hyperbaric oxygen chamber is excellent for inflammation because it concentrates oxygen into your body, which speeds healing. We have people go in an hour every day at least three times the week after surgery," says Chiu, who recommends taking the supplements arnica and bromelain. "Stay away from fish oil, turmeric, vitamin E and aspirin because they thin your blood and cause more bruising.''

IF ALL ELSE FAILS … Use a good makeup artist. Alan Matarasso, president-elect of the American Society of Plastic Surgery, says some are so skilled, "I can do your eyes tomorrow, and you can go on the red carpet a week later. They can even take you out of a car accident and make you look perfect.''

This story first appeared in the Sept. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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