Dr. Sam Rizk: State-of-the-Art Cosmetic Surgery
As a regular rider on the Madison Avenue bus, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of plastic surgery in New York City. And as a woman of a certain age, I have seen a number of other women shortly after a cosmetic procedure–between the bruising and the swelling, it’s never been a pretty sight. But in the New York office of plastic surgeon, Dr. Sam Rizk, I saw a woman who had had work done on her face, neck and nose just a few hours earlier. Yet there was no bruising and no swelling. Anywhere. What I could see was that she would have a beautiful result in a very short time. I thought this was remarkable, but for Dr. Rizk, who states that his patients will be able to face the world in a week or less, this was par for the course.
One of a few double board-certified facial plastic surgeons, with certifications in facial plastic surgery by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology (head and neck surgery), Dr. Rizk specializes in the face, nose, eyes and neck areas. He says his is a “specialty within a specialty,” explaining: “It is better to focus on a few plastic surgery procedures and do them exceptionally well than to do all types of procedures all over the body. I have pioneered techniques to give people a natural nose with tiny hidden incisions and a rapid recovery. Every nose that I do is different as every face is different and a customized, individualized approach describes my techniques.”
Dr. Rizk, who performs about 500 facelifts and an equal number of rhinoplasties a year, has a global practice, with patients from 100 countries and all 50 states. Though his patient roster includes royals, socialites and celebrities like Fergie, Kelly Osbourne and Lizzie Grubman, he has also done charity work on patients with disfiguring conditions.
Unlike many of the city’s other cosmetic surgeons, Dr. Rizk does not do the “SMAS” (sub or superficial muscular and aponeurtoic system) lift, a procedure that was introduced decades ago, whereby the skin and underlying muscle of the cheek are repositioned but which does not significantly address the area around the nose and mouth or a sagging upper cheek fat pad. This technique can yield the familiar startled, stretched-too-tight look and the smile where the lips don’t turn up. (As several of my friends had this kind of lift, I saw firsthand that “touchups” were needed after five or six years.)
Dr Rizk specializes in a newer procedure, the endoscopic 3D Telescope Facelift. Using a high-definition telescope inserted endoscopically through small incisions near the ear or hairline, he can navigate the deeper facial tissue and slide sagging muscles back into their youthful positions. He can also redistribute fat to restore volume and definition to the features of the face.
“Because I can see what I’m doing, I can avoid blood vessels—instead of accidentally cutting and then cauterizing them. Because the scars from this procedure are small, trauma is reduced and recovery time is shorter.” And because Dr. Rizk uses tissue glues, he can avoid using conventional drains, which create additional scars, increase the risk of infection, and which are painful to remove. The healing process is expedited, bruising and swelling decrease, and the small scars heal better because there is no tension on the skin. As scars are hidden inside the ear, patients can wear their hair up after surgery.
“A customized approach resulting in a natural result with a rapid recovery and the smallest undetectable—hidden–scars explains my philosophy,” says Dr. Rizk. “Additionally, my facelifts do not just lift but redistribute or fill areas of lost volume to make the face look more beautiful, not just younger.”
The doctor uses the same technology when performing rhinoplasties; this allows him to see the interior structure of the nose before making changes. Instead of simply filing down the bump and deciding how much to remove by looking at nose from outside alone, he can view the consistency of the bump, bone, cartilage, and any scar tissue from previous surgeries—and then sculpt the nose with great precision. Because there is less trauma, recovery is quicker.
Dr. Rizk performs both endoscopic rhinoplasty through small intranasal incisions and open rhinoplasty done through a small inconspicuous incision at base of the nose. The procedure not only allows greater precision, it creates less trauma, which means quicker recovery.
He has pioneered cartilage reshaping techniques with sutures, preserving a natural framework and resulting in less excision of cartilage. As many of his patients wish to correct unsatisfactory results from other surgeries, the doctor does about 250 revisions a year–rebuilding lost tissue and collapsed tips and restoring cartilage (usually obtained from the nasal septum or the ear). Dr. Rizk may use this cartilage to camouflage defects, support a drooping tip, elongate an upturned nose or correct tip irregularities or asymmetries. Dr. Rizk also repairs functional nasal conditions to improve breathing problems and other sinus conditions, as well as nasal reconstruction after cancer removal.
Though most of the doctor’s patients are women, he has been seeing a growing number of men, who generally want a more youthful look around the eyes and a neck that doesn’t have the dreaded “turkey” sag. For them, Dr. Rizk performs his signature Isolated Neck Lift, again using the tissue glues that make for a quicker recovery with more natural and longer-lasting results.
My interview with the doctor ended with a question about why there are no really long-lasting fillers. The answer: “You don’t really want a filler that lasts longer than a year. It’s safer–and your face changes with time, so it’s better to address those changes as they occur.”
Which, like so much I’ve heard in this office, makes perfect sense.