Plastic surgery is named from the Greek word "plastikos" which means "to shape", based on the surgeon re-shaping the form of the patient’s form through surgery. It has nothing to do with the types of materials used in the surgery itself. Frequently, the surgeon will make use of the patient’s own tissues, including tissues from another location of the body, or by reshaping the existing tissues to achieve a better appearance. Hard silicone rubber is a popular material. This should not be confused with the gel silicone which has sparked so much controversy through its use as a filler for breast implants.
Generally speaking, if a surgery is done primarily to improve the health of a person, or the function of an organ, it is considered medically necessary. Surgeries such as corrective rhinoplasty to improve air flow through the nose, or eyelid surgery to improve the field of vision by lifting sagging, droopy eyelids might fall into this category. These surgeries may or may not also improve the patient’s appearance, but this is a secondary purpose. If a surgery is done with the primary goal of improving the appearance of the patient, this is considered a cosmetic procedure. Usually these procedures must be paid for out of pocket, except in some cases of correcting accidental or congenital deformity.
There are commonly performed cosmetic procedures for virtually every part of the face, including the neck, nose, eyes, ears chin, cheekbones, forehead, as well as the breasts and abdomen. Additionally, scar revision and liposuction surgeries are potentially possible on most areas of the body.
Any time a cut or incision is made in the skin, there is a scar left behind as part of the normal healing process. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons have received special training and have extensive experience with minimizing the size of these scars, creating the least noticeable appearance of then, and locating them in the least conspicuous areas possible. Often the scars will become undetectable to all but the most careful examination over the course of time.
Generally, 1-2 weeks for most procedures, although this varies from one patient to the next, as well as from one procedure to the next.
In general, if it is cosmetic, your medical insurance will not cover the surgery or treatment. (See the questions regarding the difference between ‘plastic’ and ‘reconstructive’ surgeries for more on this topic).
On an average, most surgeries take 2-3 hours in the operating room, with the most extensive of multiple procedures lasting several hours. Additional time is often required for preparation before, and rest & recovery time after the surgery itself, particularly when sedation or a general anesthetic is administered.
This varies greatly depending on the procedure. For small, non-invasive procedures, such as laser tattoo removal, or collagen therapy, patients are ready to return to normal activity immediately after treatment. For procedures like laser skin resurfacing, patients may be ready for most normal activities in 3-6 days, while more extensive surgeries such as abdominoplasty or extensive liposuction may require a more extended recovery periods. The body’s complete healing process takes longer than this initial recovery time, and may last from several week up to a year or more as incisions heal completely and tissues achieve their maximum recovery.
All surgeries entail risks, such as bleeding, possible infection, etc. Please see the information on the specific surgery, or consult with a qualified surgeon for more detailed information.
Among the most frequently performed surgeries are: breast augmentation surgery, rhinoplasty, facelift and blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery).