Yes, it is conceivable that even your pet could benefit from cosmetic surgery, especially if that pet is a Pug, Shih Tzu, Bulldog, Boston Terrier or Persian cat. The common thread for all of them is they are naturally brachycephalic or short-muzzled breeds. “Smushed-faced” pets are purposely bred to accentuate this trait, resulting in endearing, but often troublesome facial features.
“Nose Jobs,” regularly performed on human patients, are also done by veterinarians for brachycephalic pets born with “stenotic” or narrow nasal openings. Pets with this defect struggle to breathe and often compensate by open mouth breathing. This problem is corrected via a procedure called “nares resection” that removes a triangular piece of nasal tissue from the nostril openings.
Another common veterinary “nose job” is surgical reduction of nasal skin folds just below the eyes of brachycephalic pets. The very folds that make or break the appearance of a shortened muzzle, can become deep pockets of moist, stained, smelly skin infection known as “nasal fold dermatitis.” Removal of extra skin in the nasal folds makes the pet more comfortable and attractive, while still maintaining the brachycephalic appearance.
“Facelifts” are also a real possibility for wrinkly breeds like the Sharpei, Bulldog and Bloodhound that have extra abundant lip and forehead skin. Like nasal folds that become problematic, pockets created by too much skin along the lower lip line can become infected with yeast and bacteria. The resulting odor from these infections is extremely offensive. Surgery to eliminate the lip folds is safe, simple and successful.
Similarly, forehead skin on wrinkly dogs can be so bountiful that it will hang over the eyes, obscuring vision and compromising eye health. This fault is corrected by cutting out a diamond-shaped piece of skin from the forehead to lighten the load. The resulting forehead scar will then be cosmetically hidden by hair.
Speaking of vision and eye health, dogs and cats can be born with two opposite extremes of eyelid defects that require “Eye Lifts.” Entropion, or a rolling in of the eyelids, is far more common than ectropion, or eversion, of the eyelids. Entropion can be painful when lashes and eyelid hairs constantly contact the eye surface, causing tearing, corneal ulcers and scarring. By removing a thin strip of excess skin parallel to or around the eyelid margins, entropion can be entirely resolved.
The opposite condition, known as ectropion, gives certain breeds their beloved forlorn eye appearance. The lower lids sag in a “V” shape, resulting in deep pockets where mucus and infection accumulate. Ectropic eyes appear reddened because the inside of the eyelid, or conjunctiva, is constantly exposed (think Bloodhound or Cocker Spaniel). Your veterinarian can make your pet look younger and healthier with a simple eyelid “tuck” that eliminates the redundant eyelid skin.
“V-plasty” is another “Eye Job” or surgical procedure to get rid of disfiguring oil gland cysts or tumors that grow on the eyelids of pets. These eyelid growths are a frequent finding when pets are presented for complaints of red eyes. Veterinarians remedy this problem by removing a V-shaped piece of the eyelid margin that encompasses the growth. The end result is very cosmetic if the defect is less than a third of the eyelid width. Larger defects require more sophisticated procedures.
What about “Tush Jobs?” Could your pet need a butt lift? The answer is “Yes!” Not to pick on the brachycephalics, but they are also afflicted with unique defects like deep tail base folds or tight corkscrew tails. Both abnormalities create pockets of skin infection that make “personal hygiene” impossible. Surgical correction of these faults through tail amputation and fold removal can give your dog a behind to be proud of.
A second “Rear End Re-alignment” involves removal of skin located above and around the vulva on female dogs with recessed or underdeveloped vulvas. This is yet another personal hygiene issue for dogs, especially those with urinary leakage or obesity problems. The resulting skin pocket around the vulva is often large and deep and will harbor odorous skin infections that are soiled by urine and become uncomfortable. Medical management of the incontinence, along with an “episioplasty” to reduce the “hood” of skin obscuring the vulva will resolve this condition. Your pet will definitely thank you for this cosmetic procedure!
To aid healing and minimize scarring after “Rear End Re-alignment” or any cosmetic surgery, your pet will likely be required to wear a “Cone of Shame.” The end result of all of these cosmetic procedures, as well as the donning of the Cone of Shame, will be certain to turn heads and put a swagger in your pet’s gait!
Dr. Bonnie Jones is co-owner of Delphos Animal Hospital which she operates with her husband, John H. Jones, DVM . She was valedictorian and Outstanding Senior Clinician of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine Class of 1985.