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A Beginner’s Guide to Plastic Surgery

two surgeons working

Plastic surgery is a medical specialty that involves the alteration of certain areas of the body to address medical concerns or improve appearance. These procedures can be performed on various parts of the body, including the face, neck, breasts, abdomen, arms, and legs. Reconstructive surgery aims to correct defects or injuries that impair function, while cosmetic surgery aims to enhance one’s appearance for aesthetic reasons.

What is plastic surgery?

Plastic surgery refers to a field of medicine that involves surgical procedures aimed at altering and improving the appearance or function of specific body parts. The term “plastic” comes from the Greek word “plastikos,” meaning “to mold” or “to shape.” Plastic surgeons perform various procedures on different areas of the body, such as the face, neck, breasts, abdomen, arms, and legs. However, plastic surgery can be categorized into two distinct types: reconstructive plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery.

You can read more about the definition of plastic surgery here.

What is reconstructive surgery?

Reconstructive surgery is a type of plastic surgery that involves repairing defects or injuries caused by various factors, such as defects and injuries from trauma. The primary goal of reconstructive surgery is to restore function and a natural-looking appearance to the affected area.

Reconstructive surgery may be necessary for individuals with various conditions, such as:

Birth defects, such as cleft lip and palate, webbed fingers, or ear deformities.

Burns that have caused significant scarring or functional impairment.

Medical conditions, such as head and neck cancer, breast cancer, or skin cancer require surgical removal of tissue.

Scars that limit natural movement or function, such as those resulting from burns or injuries.

Traumatic injuries result in extensive skin loss or soft tissue damage, such as cuts, tears, or fractures.

What is cosmetic surgery?

Cosmetic surgery is a type of plastic surgery that focuses on improving a person’s appearance for non-medical reasons. These procedures aim to enhance or refine specific physical features that may cause the patient to feel self-conscious or dissatisfied with their appearance.

Risks of plastic surgery

Like any surgical procedure, plastic and reconstructive surgery ( involve some degree of risk. These procedures are often complex and may involve altering sensitive structures near major organs or delicate tissues, which can increase the risk of complications. Some risks associated with plastic surgery include:

The likelihood of experiencing complications during plastic surgery can be influenced by many factors. Some of these factors include:

  • Type of surgery
  • Health history
  • Lifestyle factors especially smoking

One of the biggest risks associated with plastic surgery is that the results may not meet your expectations.

What is recovery from plastic surgery like?

After the plastic surgery procedure is complete and the anesthesia wears off, the length of your hospital stay may vary depending on the type of surgery you have had. In some cases, you may be able to go home the same day, while in other cases you may need to stay in the hospital for one or two nights for monitoring and recovery.

What are the recovery expectations if I’ve had plastic surgery?

Recovery times can vary greatly depending on the specific plastic surgery procedure performed. Some minor procedures may only require a few days of rest and recovery, while more extensive surgeries can take several weeks or even months to recover fully.

For example, facial procedures such as facelifts or rhinoplasty typically involve a shorter recovery period of a few weeks, while procedures such as breast augmentation or tummy tucks may require several weeks or even months of recovery time.

In some cases, it may take up to a year or more for the full benefits of the procedure to become apparent, especially with procedures that involve significant swelling or changes to the body’s natural structure, such as facial feminization surgery.

A lot of people have a vision of how they want to look. To realize that vision, they undergo cosmetic plastic surgery. These procedures might include refining the facial and other features of their body, tightening skin for a better appearance, removing unwanted hair, treating thinning hair, and many other types of procedures that can refine their appearance.

There are also medical reasons for cosmetic surgery. These include surgical scar repair, restoration of a part of the body that was injured, and other kinds of procedures that can improve the function or appearance of the body.

There is a wide spectrum of cosmetic surgical procedures. Here are eight types that are most frequently requested:

1) Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is used to improve the appearance of skin. A special tool is used to carefully buff the skin to remove the top layer. As the skin heals after the procedure, the treated area is replaced by new, younger skin. This results in skin that is smoother and fresher looking.

2) Breast Enhancement

This procedure enhances the shape or size of the breasts. This is different from breast reduction or a breast lift procedure which is very popular, and which are very different procedures. Breast augmentation is also referred to as breast implant surgery if the desire is to increase the size of the breasts.

3) Hair Transplantation

Also called hair restoration, hair transplantation addresses issues around baldness. Hair is taken from body areas where the growth is thicker and transplanted to the area with no hair.

The number of sessions required depends on the need of the individual. Thousands of hair follicles can be transplanted during one session. The transplantation is permanent, and the transplanted hair continues to grow in its new place after the procedure.

4) Facelift

Facial skin that is loose and wrinkled, that sags and droops, can be repaired by a facelift. This procedure involves removing excess skin, lifting facial tissue, and replacing skin over contours. Many people also choose to do other procedures at the same time as their facelift, such as neck lifts, eyelid surgery, forehead lifts, or reshaping of the nose.

5) Rhinoplasty

This procedure adjusts the shape of the nose. Rhinoplasty can be done for cosmetic purposes, but people who have trouble breathing or have birth defects can have it done for medical reasons.

6) Lip Augmentation

This procedure makes the lips look fuller. Fillers are injected into the lips to enhance the shape, volume, or structure of the lips. This procedure only lasts about six months, so the results are not permanent. The patient often has to return for another visit to restore the volume and shape of the lips.

7) Liposuction

This procedure removes fat from the body to reshape the body. This is not a procedure for weight loss.

A pen-shaped instrument called a liposuction cannula is inserted beneath the skin where the fat deposit is located. Fat is removed through vacuum suction. Sometimes the fat deposit can be broken up by ultrasound before it is removed by suction.

This procedure can be done in many areas that have excess fat like the stomach, hips, buttocks, thighs, arms, back, or face. Lipomas, or fat tumors, can also be removed by liposuction. Breast reduction in men can be done by liposuction. During one visit, this procedure can be done on different areas of the body.

8) Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

This procedure is used to reshape the profile of the abdomen. It removes extra fat and skin in the abdominal area and restores abdominal muscles that have weakened or separated. The procedure can make the abdominal skin look more firm and tight, but it cannot take away stretch marks.

This is not intended to replace a healthy weight loss regimen that includes a proper diet and regular exercise. The results of a tummy tuck can only be permanent if a healthy weight is maintained.