ASDS Session: Facial Deformities Can Be Remedied Cosmetically

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Recent presentation reveals ‘life-changing’ treatments that improve serious conditions.

While soft-tissue fillers, wrinkle-relaxing injections and laser treatments are widely known for their cosmetic benefits, they also can be used to correct facial deformities caused by a variety of medical conditions, say members of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

Cheryl M. Burgess, M.D., and Jill S. Waibel, M.D., detailed aesthetic remedies for facial disfigurements during an ASDS scientific session entitled “Cosmetic Correction for Medical Conditions.”

Utilizing their wide range of cosmetic medical treatments, dermatologic surgeons address the cosmetic side effects of many challenging medical conditions, including:

  • Facial lipoatrophy associated with HIV and localized variants such as morphea
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Strabismus (abnormal alignment of the eyes)
  • Parry-Romberg syndrome
  • Lupus profundus
  • Hemangiomas
  • Surgical deformities
  • Scars
  • Burns

While facial asymmetry is severe in several of these conditions, Burgess said bringing the deficient side of the face to the standard of the normal side is an attainable goal.

“We have to think in that frame of mind of how you’re going to make that person symmetrical,” Burgess said. “It can be challenging, but it is rewarding if you can significantly change their lives.”

Burgess said HIV-associated facial lipoatrophy is the most frequent medical condition she treats. She said patients sometimes experience extensive “facial fat-wasting” – among the most stigmatizing complications of HIV – prompting them to turn to soft-tissue fillers to restore facial volume due to loss of deep fat pads.

Those afflicted with lupus profundus – a rare form of lupus that leads to unsightly, depressed areas on the face and body – lose facial volume in a similar fashion to HIV patients and also benefit from fillers, Burgess said.

Botulinum toxin treatments are effective for Bell’s palsy patients, she said. Facial muscles often respond well to the injections, which can reduce abnormal facial movements. Over time, Burgess said the weak side of the face that is affected by the Bell’s palsy allows the unaffected side to become hyperkinetic and pull the weak side.

The groups of patients suffering from serious medical conditions who stand to benefit from cosmetic corrections are extensive, said Waibel, who regularly treats burn and trauma patients.

“When we look at patients who have not formed developmentally correct or if there’s been a disease or an injury, our goal is to help restore their desired facial anatomy,” Waibel said. “We’re not going to make it perfect. We are going to make it better.”

Waibel works extensively with laser treatments and referenced patients who deal with ulcerated hemangiomas that cause misery. Waibel said laser treatments can swiftly seal some hemangiomas.

Whether utilizing a laser or an injection, dermatologic surgeons often make patients afflicted with these serious conditions feel like a new person.

Facial deformities can lead to what Burgess describes as a “profound psychological effect” on patients, including reluctance to interact with others and high levels of anxiety about meeting new people. Patients often live with the deformities for years without realizing the medical options that are available.

Burgess said the ability to greatly improve the appearance of patients affected by these conditions is deeply gratifying.

“It’s really life-changing,” Burgess said. “After treating patients with deformities, I hand them the mirror and tears swell up in their eyes – that’s how deeply impactful you can be helping people. I leave work at the end of the day feeling satisfied that I really helped somebody today.”

About ASDS
The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery is the largest specialty organization exclusively representing dermatologic surgeons who have unique training and experience to treat the health, function and beauty of your skin. ASDS members are pioneers in the field. Many are involved in the clinical studies that bring popular treatments to revitalize skin and fill and diminish wrinkles to the forefront. Their work has helped create and enhance many of the devices that remove blemishes, hair and fat, and tighten skin. Dermatologic surgeons also are experts in skin cancer prevention, detection and treatment. As the incidence of skin cancer rises, dermatologic surgeons are committed to taking steps to minimize the life-threatening effects of this disease. For more information, visit

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Jolene Kremer
Director of PR, Communications & Marketing
American Society for Dermatologic Surgery

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