A rise in the number of patients choosing to undergo facial osteotomy or ‘bone shaving’ for cosmetic reasons is set to continue, according to cosmetic surgery providers.
Osteotomy, which literally means ‘cutting of the bone’, is not a new procedure in itself and has been used for many years for medical reasons, including the correction of misaligned bones, alleviating arthritis and removing bunions from the feet. The technique is also used for patients suffering from severe under- or over-bites, which can cause problems with eating, speaking and even breathing if left untreated.
Recently, the same techniques have been used more frequently in cosmetic surgery, to change the shape of the patient’s bones for aesthetic rather than medical reasons. The procedure is most commonly used to reshape the patient’s face, to reduce protruding jawlines or to change the shape and size of the nose. Cosmetic practitioners are reporting that these procedures are becoming more popular in countries such as South Korea and tourism to certain regions has increased as, worryingly, some patients from other countries want to travel to undergo these procedures abroad. Surgeons are also predicting that the procedure is due to become more popular in the UK in the coming years.
Osteotomy is usually undertaken under general anaesthetic, and a laser- or micro-saw, manual chisel (known as an osteome) and/or a scalpel is used to shave down the protruding bone and muscles, changing the shape of the patient’s bone structure. The surgery can take up to five hours, depending on the procedure. Recovery time can be up to a year for the patient to heal fully.
The rising popularity of these procedures may lead to an increase in claims against providers of such surgery, particularly if there is any surgical error involved, or problems with post-operative care. As the effects of the surgery are permanent, patients who are not properly consented and do not fully understand both the risks and likely outcome may be unsatisfied with the results and could require revision surgery.
As with any surgery, there are risks that the patient should be aware of, including infection and nerve damage. Whenever a patient undergoes general anaesthetic, there is a possibility of complications that in very rare cases can lead to death. If patients travel abroad for surgery, this is even riskier as there is no guarantee of aftercare being provided. Some patients are choosing instead to undergo dermal fillers, which can provide similar results in appearance and involve less drastic surgery, although such procedures do also come with their own risks, and do not provide permanent results.