What Is Cosmetic Surgery?
Cosmetic surgery refers to the surgical and nonsurgical procedures that enhance a patient’s appearance and boost their confidence.
Plastic surgeons perform cosmetic surgery on all areas of the head, neck, and body to either improve aesthetic appeal, symmetry, and or proportion.
The surgery is elective since the treated areas usually function correctly. Cosmetic surgery continues to be more popular with more people going for body-shaping procedures, with a spike in non-invasive fat reduction, and surgeries such as breast augmentations and liposuction.
According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). 17.7 million surgical and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures were performed in the United States in 2018.
Types of Cosmetic Surgery
In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the most common cosmetic procedures, both invasive and non-invasive. These include:
1. Breast Enhancement Procedures
Breast Augmentation ( Augmentation Mammaplasty)
Breast augmentation, also known as augmentation mammaplasty or “boob job,” is a cosmetic surgery procedure that increases breast size, enhances breast contour, and corrects breast asymmetry. It achieves this through breast implants or fat transfer.
Patients that choose to have breast augmentation using implants have the following choices:
- Filling material: saline implants (contain sterile saltwater), silicone implants (contain silicone gel), gummy bear/form-stable (also contains silicone gel), or structured implants (also saline-filled).
- Shape: round implants, which achieve a fuller look at the top of the breasts, or tear-drop implants, where the bottom of the breasts appears fuller than the top hence looks more natural.
- Texture: smooth implants or textured implants.
- Size: implants come in a wide range of sizes from about 150cc to 800cc or more, according to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS).
- Location of the incision: incisions are either made around the edge of the areola (periareolar incision), in the armpit (axillary incision), or along the fold underneath the breast (inframammary incision).
- Placement: implants are either placed beneath a patient’s pectoral muscle (a submuscular placement) or above it but beneath the breast tissue (a subglandular placement).
Breast implant removal
Breast implant removal surgery removes breast implants from patients that previously underwent breast augmentation or breast reconstruction.
Patients can opt to have their implants removed for various reasons, including:
- Capsular contraction, i.e., hardened scar tissue that forms around the breast implant, causing pain and discomfort.
- Ruptured implant.
- The patient no longer wants to have breast implants.
- If he or she is unsatisfied with the results of breast augmentation.
- The patient wants a bigger or smaller cup size.
Breast implant removal is a minimally invasive procedure. The patient first receives anesthesia.
Then the plastic surgeon makes an incision along the inframammary fold or around or beneath the areola. He/she then removes the implant using one or a combination of techniques and closes the incisions.
Breast implant revision
Breast implant revision is a procedure that replaces old implants with new ones to change or improve breast appearance and get recent implant material. One may choose to have implant replacement due to:
- Desire to reduce or increase the size of the breasts
- Capsular contracture pain or discomfort
- Suspected rupture
- Implant migration
- Wanting to try an implant with different filling material, shape, and texture
Breast implant revision is customized to meet the patient’s goals and needs. The patient receives anesthesia before the plastic surgeon makes an incision, depending on the type of procedure he/she will perform.
Possible incisions include, but are not limited, to an inflammatory incision (in the fold under the breast) and breast lift incisions (vertical incision or Wise pattern incision).
Here are the Benefits and Importance of Breast Implant Revision Surgery if you are looking forward to going for one.
Fat transfer breast augmentation
As for breast augmentation with fat grafting, fat harvested from other parts of the body through liposuction gets processed before being injected into the patient’s breast. The goal of the procedure is to add volume, enhance shape, and improve proportion.
But compared to breast implants, the results are not as conspicuous. Consequently, fat transfer breast augmentation is ideal for patients looking for a moderately small increase in breast size and natural-looking results.
Note: patients can choose to have both implant and fat transfer procedures to enhance the results of their breast augmentation.
Breast lift (mastopexy)
The goal of a breast lift or mastopexy is to raise sagging breasts and achieve a more youthful breast shape and appearance.
The procedure involves first administering intravenous sedation or general anesthesia to patients. After which the plastic surgeon makes incisions:
- Around the areola (periareolar/”donut” lift)
- Around the areolae and extending downward to the breast creases (vertical/”lollipop” lift)
- Around the areolas, vertically down to the breast creases, then horizontally along the breast creases (inverted T/”anchor lift”)
The surgeon then:
- Lifts and reshapes the underlying breast tissue to correct breast sagging and make the breasts appear perkier and become firmer.
- Repositions the areolae and nipples, and if necessary, reduces an enlarged areola by excising skin at the perimeter.
- Removes excess skin and tightens the remaining skin before finally closing the incisions using sutures, skin adhesives, and or surgical tape.
The results of breast lift surgery are not only immediately visible but also long-lasting. If you want to learn more about mastopexy, you can check our Complete Guide to Breast Lift Surgery (Mastopexy).
Breast reduction (reduction mammaplasty)
Reduction mammaplasty removes excess fat, skin, and tissue from the breasts to create smaller breasts that are more proportionate to the patient’s body.
Women usually have the procedure done to relieve shoulder and back pains associated with large breasts. Plastic surgeons use various incision techniques to perform breast reduction, namely:
- Periareolar incision method: it’s ideal for mild reduction.
- Vertical incision method: surgeons use the procedure to correct moderate sagging and breast shape concerns.
- Inverted T incision method: used to perform breast reduction on patients with severely sagging, large breasts.
After making the appropriate incision, the plastic surgeon removes excess skin, fat, and tissue and lifts and reshapes the remaining underlying tissue.
Then repositions the nipples and areolas, and if necessary, reduces the areolas. Finally, the surgeon brings together the incisions and closes them using sutures or surgical tape.
2. Fat Reduction
People sometimes have more fat tissue than they need, especially with today’s various low-nutrient, high-calorie, convenient foods.
Liposuction is a body contouring and slimming procedure that removes excess fat from targeted areas.
Said areas include thighs, hips, buttocks, abdominal area, back, cheeks, and upper arms. A liposuction procedure generally involves:
- Administering local anesthesia or general anesthesia to the patient.
- Making small incisions, through which the plastic surgeon inserts a cannula to help loosen excess fat and suction the fat out of the body.
- Covering treatment areas with a compression garment to help control swelling and compress the skin to the patient’s new body contours.
You can learn more on our guides about liposuction cost, its safety, and techniques on how to reduce swelling after undergoing liposuction to help you get started.
Liposuction-assisted (laser/ultrasound-assisted liposuction)
Laser- or ultrasound-assisted liposuction also helps contour the body by removing unwanted fat pockets that are stubborn to exercise and diet. Here’s how each procedure works:
a) Laser-assisted liposuction
Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL) involves melting fat tissue with laser energy, then using a cannula to suction the liquefied fat.
It helps reduce fat in most areas of the body, including the cheeks, chin, abdomen, waist, thighs, and buttocks. Moreover, it also achieves a skin tightening effect.
b) Ultrasound-assisted liposuction
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) liquefies through ultrasonic frequencies, allowing for the suctioning of the fat.
The procedure, which uses a cannula inserted through small incisions, mainly treats the abdomen, hips, thighs, and back. UAL can help tighten the skin in patients with mild problems with skin elasticity.
Non surgical fat reduction
Nonsurgical/minimally invasive fat reduction treatments use heat, cooling, or injectable medication to reduce fat cells. Procedures under this category include:
- Cryolipolysis: breaks down fat cells using cold temperature.
- Injection lipolysis: uses deoxycholic acid, which destroys fat cells, to eliminate a double-chin, i.e., the fat underneath the chin.
- Radiofrequency lipolysis: heats fat cells from a distance using radiofrequency.
- Laser lipolysis: uses laser energy to heat fat cells and reduce localized fat.
Note: patients that are pregnant or breastfeeding should not undergo the above nonsurgical fat reduction procedures.
3. Body Lift Procedures
Body lift (improving shape and tone)
A body lift improves the shape and tone of the underlying tissue in the abdomen, buttocks, and thighs. During the procedure(s), the surgeon also removes excess fat and skin in these areas.
The incisions used are usually extensive and appear similar to a bikini pattern. The incision formed around the body allows for the removal of excess skin and fat and repositioning and tightening of the tissues.
And while the results of a body lift are noticeable almost immediately, the final results may take 1 to 2 years to be realized.
Body lift procedures include:
Arm lift (Brachioplasty)
An arm lift surgery procedure or Brachioplasty modifies the appearance of the underside of the upper arm by:
- Removing excess fat
- Tightening loose skin
- Reducing localized pockets of fat
The steps of the procedure vary on the goal of the surgery. However, Brachioplasty generally proceeds as follows:
- Local anesthesia, intravenous sedation, or general anesthesia first gets administered.
- The surgeon makes incisions inside or at the back of the upper arm to remove excess fat using excision or liposuction. Then he/she makes incisions as needed to excise any loose skin.
- Underlying supportive tissue is tightened and reshaped using internal sutures.
- The skin is stretched over the new contour of the arm and bound in place using absorbable sutures.
Body contouring (skin removal after major weight loss)
Body contouring helps remove excess skin and fat following major weight loss due to weight loss surgery or lifestyle changes.
The goal of the procedure is to achieve a better-proportioned appearance with smoother contours. Body contouring procedures may include arm lift, breast lift, thigh lift, facelift, and a tummy tuck.
Surgeons perform these procedures while patients are under intravenous sedation, local anesthesia, or general anesthesia.
The incisions made are usually large to allow for excess skin removal. Body contouring is done in stages and may take up to two for the final results.
Buttock enhancement (gluteal augmentation and lift)
There are two primary buttock enhancement surgeries, i.e., buttock augmentation and buttock lift.
a) Buttock augmentation
Buttock augmentation or gluteal augmentation increases the fullness, roundness, and projection of buttocks using:
- Buttock implants. A plastic surgeon places silicone-filled implants within or underneath the gluteal muscle of each buttock through incisions made following administration of anesthesia. Then the incisions are closed with dissolvable sutures, skin adhesive, or surgical tape. The results of the procedure are immediately noticeable.
- Buttock augmentation with fat grafting. The procedure, which is popularly known as a Brazilian Butt lift (BBL), involves extracting fat from other parts of the body through liposuction and injecting it into the buttocks. Donor areas include the hips and waist. The results are natural-looking and -feeling and are immediately visible. However, it may be up to a year before patients see the final results.
b) Buttock lift
The goal of a buttock lift, also known as a gluteal lift, is to improve the shape and tone of the underlying buttock tissue.
The procedure requires extensive incisions and that patients receive anesthesia. One common buttock lift technique uses an incision made below the waistline, while another uses one made under the buttock cheeks.
After making the incisions, the surgeon removes excess sagging skin and fat and closes the incisions using sutures, skin adhesives, or surgical clips.
Treatment may also include liposuction for enhanced contouring. A butt lift may result in a more defined crease, smoother upper leg back skin, and less dimpled skin surface. Results are usually noticeable immediately after the procedure.
A mommy makeover procedure aims to give patients their pre-baby bodies back by reducing the visible signs of childbearing.
Target areas include the breasts, abdomen, waist, vagina, and buttocks. A mommy makeover usually combines various procedures, such as:
- Breast augmentation
- Breast lift
- Tummy tuck
- Vaginal rejuvenation
- Buttock augmentation
Usually, plastic surgeons perform a mommy makeover as once surgery. However, some situations demand the procedure be divided into separate surgeries.
Thigh lift surgery (thighplasty)
Thigh lift surgery or thighplasty reshapes the inner and outer thighs through excess skin and fat removal. Consequently, resulting in smoother, well-proportioned contours of the thighs. Thigh lift procedure steps are as follows:
- Patients receive anesthesia.
- The plastic surgeon uses either an inner thigh lift incision technique or an outer thigh lift incision technique to make an incision.
- The surgeon then shapes the thighs contours and embeds deep sutures into the underlying tissues to support the newly shaped contours.
- Finally, he/she uses sutures, skin adhesive, or clips to close the skin incisions before wrapping compression garments around the thighs. Patients are to wear this until four weeks post-surgery.
The smoother skin and improved contour and appearance are evident immediately. Patients may choose to combine a thigh lift with abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) or butt lift in what is sometimes known as a lower body lift.
Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)
A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a cosmetic procedure that reshapes the abdominal area by removing excess skin and fat and tightening the underlying muscles. There are two types of tummy tuck procedures:
- Standard/complete/full/traditional abdominoplasty. The procedure requires a horizontally-oriented incision over the groin. The length of which depends on the amount of excess skin. The surgeon then makes a second incision around the navel to remove excess skin in the upper abdomen.
- Partial abdominoplasty/mini tummy tuck. The surgery only requires a horizontal incision across the upper pubic area. The procedure is ideal for patients with excess lower belly fat, skin laxity, and minimal abdominal muscle separation.
Patients in both procedures require anesthesia. And the incisions are closed using sutures, skin adhesives, clips, or surgical tapes.
Tummy tuck scars are permanent and may take several months to a year to fade. Learn through our extensive guide on How to Minimize or Get Rid of Tummy Tuck Scars.
4. Face and Neck (Facial Cosmetic Surgery)
Plastic surgeons perform various facial cosmetic surgery procedures to give patients a more youthful, attractive appearance or to change or enhance a facial feature. These include:
Brow lift (forehead lift)
A brow lift or forehead lift is a surgery that:
- Elevates sagging brows
- Improves the droopy skin over the outer corners of the upper eyelids
- Reduces forehead and nose bridge wrinkles
- Improves frown lines
Patients usually undergo the procedure under intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. Surgeons perform brow lifts using either an endoscopic incision or a coronal incision.
Then use removable sutures, absorbable suture, staples, or skin adhesive to close the incisions.
Buccal fat removal (cheek reduction)
Buccal fat removal involves removing the buccal fat pad that naturally occurs in the area of the cheek hollows. As the procedure thins the cheeks, it is not ideal for people with thin, narrow faces.
Patients are administered general anesthesia or intravenous sedation before the surgery. To perform the procedure, the surgeon makes incisions on the inner portion of the cheeks, which are then closed using absorbable sutures. The final results may take several months to notice.
Cheek augmentation (cheek enhancement)
There are several surgical and non-surgical cheek augmentation procedures that enhance and restore volume to the cheeks. These include:
- Fat transfer. Fat from another part of the patient’s body is harvested through liposuction, purified, then injected into the cheeks.
- Cheek implants. Depending on their preference, surgeons insert cheek implants through incisions made inside the upper lip or the lower eyelid.
- Dermal fillers. If needed, the plastic surgeon may first apply a topical anesthetic to numb the cheek area before injecting an FDA-approved dermal filler. Patients should see results immediately following injection.
Chin surgery (mentoplasty)
Chin surgery, also known as mentoplasty, involves either chin reduction or chin augmentation. The goal of both surgeries is to enhance the balance of facial features and thereby increasing patients’ self-esteem and confidence.
With chin reduction, the surgeon removes part of the chin’s bone tissue to reduce the projection of an overly-prominent chin. Whereas chin augmentation involves:
- Chin implants: the surgeon places silicone implants around the chin through small incisions made within the mouth or under the chin to achieve more chin projection.
- Genioplasty: the surgeon slides the lower jaw bone forward to make the lower face and chin more prominent.
Ear surgery (otoplasty)
Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, improves the shape and position of the ear, which consequently improves the overall facial proportions.
Ear surgery can treat macrotia (abnormally large ears) and protruding ears in adults, teenagers, and children generally around five years old plus.
Otoplasty begins with the administration of local anesthesia, IV sedation, or general anesthesia. The plastic surgeon then usually makes incisions behind the ear and uses internal sutures to hold the ears back.
The procedure may also involve removing excess cartilage, earlobe reduction, reconstructing damaged earlobes, and inserting a small implant.
Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty)
Blepharoplasty is a procedure that improves the appearance and function of the upper and lower eyelids. The surgery can treat:
- Excessive, sagging, or wrinkled eyelid skin
- Dark circles
- Droopy eyelids
- Puffy bags under the eyes
The surgery begins with the administration of intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. Then depending on the goal of the procedure, the plastic surgeon makes incisions within the natural crease in the eyelid, below the lower lash line, or inside the lower eyelid.
He/she then removes excess skin, removes/redistributes excess fat, and or tightens the muscles. The incisions are closed using sutures or skin glue.
Facelift surgery (rhytidectomy)
A facelift procedure, or rhytidectomy, improves visible signs of aging in the face and neck by removing or redistributing excess fat, tightening underlying muscles, and removing sagging skin. The surgery includes the following steps:
- Patients get intravenous anesthesia, general anesthesia, or even local anesthesia for their comfort.
- The surgeon makes incisions depending on the chosen facelift procedure. If a traditional facelift, for instance, the incision made usually begins in the hairline at the temples, continues along the front side of the ear, and ends in the lower scalp.
- The surgeon then closes the incisions using dissolvable sutures or skin glue.
Facial implants are synthetic materials compatible with human tissue designed to enhance and balance the appearance of facial features. The chin, jaw, and cheeks are the areas of the face most commonly augmented with implants.
- Chin implant procedure: the plastic surgeon either makes incisions inside the mouth, along the fold between the lip and gum or under the chin. He/she then inserts the implants and closes the incisions with sutures. The procedure increases the size and projection of the chin.
- Cheek implant procedure: implants are inserted and positioned in the facial tissue through incisions made in the mouth, inside the lower eyelid, or within the hairline. Cheek implants add volume and contour to poorly defined cheeks.
- Jaw implant procedure: the surgeon makes incisions inside the mouth and inserts the implants to define a weak jawline and correct facial imbalance. Incisions are then closed using absorbable sutures.
Note: facial implant procedures make use of local anesthesia, IV sedation, or general anesthesia.
Neck lift (lower rhytidectomy)
A neck lift, also known as a lower rhytidectomy, improves visible signs of aging in the neck and jawline area by treating:
- Jowls that form due to excess fat and skin in the lower face
- Double chin, i.e., excess fat in the area underneath the chin
- Loose neck skin
- Muscle banding in the neck that causes abnormal contours
A neck lift procedure starts with the administration of anesthesia. The surgeon then either makes a traditional neck lift incision or a limited incision neck lift.
Then removes or redistributes fat from the jowls and neck, repositions underlying neck tissues, or tightens the platysma muscle.
He/she also removes excess skin and redrapes the rest over the new contours before closing the incisions with absorbable sutures.
Rhinoplasty (nose surgery)
Rhinoplasty, popularly referred to as “nose job,” is a nose-reshaping that enhances the proportions of a patient’s nose to their face, consequently improving facial harmony. The procedure includes the following steps:
- An anesthesiologist or surgeon administers local anesthesia or general anesthesia to the patient.
- Incisions are made inside the nose (closed technique) or across the columella (open technique).
- Through these incisions, the surgeon reduces an overly large nose by removing bone or cartilage, adds cartilage grafts to the nose, straightens the septum, or removes or remolds breathing obstructions.
- Incisions are closed.
A thread lift or lunchtime lift uses bi-directional, barbed sutures that are absorbable to reposition facial and neck tissues for tighter skin and youthful appearance.
The procedure treats jowls, fine lines and wrinkles, sagging eyebrows, nasolabial folds, and facial skin laxity.
A thread lift utilizes local anesthesia. As the threads are passed beneath the skin using needles, there are no incisions, only entry points.
The results of the procedure are apparent after a few weeks, while the sutures usually dissolve over the following six months.
After which, fibrous tissue that had formed around the sutures and new collagen keeps the skin smooth and firm.
5. Minimally Invasive Procedures
Botulinum toxin (Botox®, Dysport®, Xeomin®, Jeuveau®)
Botulinum toxin type A is an injectable neurotoxin used for both cosmetic and medical purposes.
When injected for cosmetic use, botulinum toxin helps diminish or eliminate facial fine lines and wrinkles. These include forehead furrows, crow’s feet, frown lines, bunny lines, and lip lines.
Botulinum toxin, which goes by the brand names Botox®, Xeomin®, Dysport®, and Jeuveau®, can also:
- Improve the appearance of a dimpled chin
- Treat platysmal neck bands
- Slim and contour the face by targeting the masseter muscles that give the face a square shape
- Fix a gummy smile
Injections of botulinum toxin take less than 15 minutes. If anesthesia is required, a topical one is applied.
The number of injections given depends on an individual’s facial features and the extent of their wrinkles. The effects of the treatment last about 3 to 4 months.
A chemical peel is a skin resurfacing technique that uses a chemical solution to remove the damaged top layers of the skin.
The goal of the procedure is to improve skin texture and tone. Although primarily used on the face, a chemical peel can also improve the appearance of the skin on the neck, chest, hands, and legs.
There are three types of chemical peels:
- Light chemical peel: only removes the outer layer of skin (epidermis) using a mild chemical solution of alpha hydroxy acids (e.g., glycolic acid) and beta hydroxy acids (e.g., salicylic acid).
- Medium chemical peel: treatment targets the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and the upper part of the middle layer of the skin (dermis). Medium peels use chemicals, such as trichloroacetic acid (TCA), glycolic acid, or Jessner’s solution.
- Deep chemical peel: the doctor applies phenol to the skin, which penetrates deep into the lower dermal skin layer. It produces long-lasting results that can last up to 10 years but has the lengthiest recovery period.
Depending on the strength of the chemical peel used, the procedure can diminish or erase:
- Wrinkles and fine lines
- Acne and acne scars
- Sun-damaged skin
- Rough skin and scaly skin patches
- Age spots, brown spots, and freckles
- Mild scarring
Dermal fillers fill out fine lines and wrinkles and restore volume and fullness in sunken areas of the face for a youthful appearance.
However, the results are usually temporary since the body eventually absorbs the injected material.
Common types of FDA-approved dermal fillers include:
- Calcium hydroxylapatite: brand names include: Radiesse.
- Poly-L-Lactic acid: brand names include Sculptra®.
- Neurotoxins: brand names include Botox®, Xeomin®, and Dysport®.
- Sodium Hyaluronate: brand names include Restylane®, Refyne®, and Restylane®.
- Hyaluronic acid: brand names include Captique, Hylaform, and Perlane.
- Polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres (PMMA): brand names include Bellafill®.
If required, local anesthesia or topical anesthetic is first applied. The plastic surgeon then injects the dermal filler. The length of the procedure may be as brief as 15 minutes, depending on the number of areas requiring treatment.
Note: fat injections may serve as dermal fillers, where fat harvested from one’s own body gets reinjected in another area of their body.
Laser hair removal
Laser hair removal uses a beam of highly concentrated light to remove unwanted hair. The wavelength of light the laser produces gets absorbed by the hair, consequently generating heat that damages the hair follicles. The goal is to inhibit or delay hair growth.
However, patients will require several laser hair removal treatments for significant hair reduction since hair grows in cycles, and the procedure only affects actively growing hair follicles.
Additionally, while it effectively delays hair growth for long periods, it doesn’t result in permanent hair removal. Periodic maintenance sessions may, therefore, be needed.
Laser skin resurfacing (lasabrasion, laser peel, or laser vaporization)
Laser skin resurfacing uses a laser to deliver beams of light onto the skin to treat various skin concerns, including:
- Fine lines
- Acne scars
- Age spots
- Sun-damaged skin
The procedure improves skin appearance by removing the outer layers of the skin to expose the newer and younger-looking skin beneath. The two most common laser resurfacing treatments used are:
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2): treats wrinkles, scars, warts, and other conditions.
- Erbium: removes superficial and moderately deep lines and wrinkles on the face but may also be applied on the hands, neck, and chest.
Microdermabrasion removes the top layer of the skin using a minimally abrasive tool. The procedure can help reduce :
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Acne and acne scars
- The appearance of stretch marks
- Dark spots and age spots
- Large pores
- Patches of dark skin
Microdermabrasion also increases collagen production. Collagen is a protein that helps keep the skin smooth and taut.
The procedure uses a diamond tip wand or crystals to remove dead skin cells from the outer layer of the skin. Numbing is not required as microdermabrasion is generally not painful.
Skin rejuvenation and resurfacing
Various skin care procedures help rejuvenate and resurface the skin by addressing different skin conditions such as facial fine lines and wrinkles, minor scars, pigmentation, vascular conditions, and uneven skin tone. These treatments include:
- Laser skin resurfacing
- Chemical peels
- Dermal fillers
- Spider vein treatment
The duration of skin resurfacing and rejuvenation results depend on the specific type of treatment recommended.
Spider vein treatment (sclerotherapy)
Sclerotherapy is the standard treatment of spider veins. Spider veins are the clusters of red, blue, and or purple veins that appear close to the surface of the skin on the leg (thigh, calves, and ankle). Sclerotherapy aims to reduce the appearance of spider veins through the following steps:
- A sclerosing agent gets injected into the veins using a microneedle. It irritates the veins, causing them to collapse and fade.
- Following the treatment, patients may wear bandages or compression stockings over the injection site for some time.
Alternatively, laser therapy can help treat spider veins, especially on the ankles where the veins are considerably small.
In this treatment option, an intense beam of light penetrates the spider vein through the skin, eliminating it. Both procedures may require several sessions to achieve the desired results.
Plastic surgeons can use several procedures to help remove unwanted tattoos. These include:
- Laser treatment. Laser energy penetrates the skin and heats the ink particles, causing them to break down into smaller particles that the immune system can flush out. It may take 1 to 10 sessions to effectively remove the ink colors.
- Dermabrasion. A well-trained physician uses a medical grinding device to sand away the layers of the skin that contain the ink particles. The procedure is painful and may result in significant scarring.
- Chemical peels. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels remove the top layers of the skin and, with them, the tattoo ink.
- Surgical excision. The procedure is best suited for small tattoos as it involves cutting out the skin that contains the tattoo. It necessitates the use of anesthesia and results in a surgical scar.
All the above tattoo removal procedures result in a wound, so the surgeon applies a gauze bandage to the area following treatment. The number of sessions needed to achieve the final result depends on factors such as the procedure used, size of the tattoo, the tattoo location, and the color of ink used in the tattoo.
6. Male Specific Plastic Surgery
Plastic surgery for men has become increasingly popular over the years, with men undergoing surgery for various cosmetic reasons, including getting a trimmer waistline. Some procedures are, however, more male-specific. These include:
Gynecomastia surgery (male breast reduction)
The surgery reduces breast size in men with gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is a condition characterized by excess fat, excess glandular tissue, and sometimes excess skin in the chest area.
In cases involving excess fatty tissue primarily, a surgeon may only use liposuction, which requires the insertion of a cannula through an incision.
Where glandular tissue or excess skin requires removal, the surgeon excises it through an incision. Areola reduction and nipple repositioning also require an excision technique.
The placement of incisions in both procedures depends on the amount of correction needed and the surgeon’s preference. In some cases, treating gynecomastia requires both liposuction and excision techniques.
Hair transplant surgery (surgical hair replacement)
Thinning hair and baldness are common issues among men hence the need for hair transplant surgery to restore hair to affected areas of the scalp. They are various types of hair transplant surgery, namely:
- Hair transplantation. Here, small grafts of hair-bearing scalp are harvested from the donor area and transplanted into bald or thinning areas of the scalp.
- Flap surgery. The procedure involves cutting out a section of a bald scalp, then lifting a flap of hair-bearing skin that still has an intact blood supply and moving it into the recipient site before sewing it in place.
- Tissue expansion. In this treatment, the surgeon places a tissue expander beneath a hair-bearing area of the scalp that’s adjacent to a bald section. The balloon-like device is then gradually inflated with a saline solution for skin expansion and growth of new skin cells. The stretched skin helps cover the nearby bald areas of the scalp.
- Scalp reduction. The procedure, which is sometimes called advancement flap surgery, involves advancing or bringing together the hair-bearing areas of the scalp to address baldness at the top or back of the head.
7. Vaginal Rejuvenation
Childbearing, aging, weight fluctuation, and hormonal changes can cause changes in a woman’s genitalia. These changes, which can impact their sex life and general quality of life, include:
- Decreased erotic sensation
- Vaginal laxity
- Loss of vaginal lubrication, causing pain during sex
- Loss of tone in the labia majora
- Pain when riding bicycles or horses or when performing high-impact exercises
Two types of cosmetic procedures can help reverse changes in a female’s genitalia, namely:
Non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation (minimally invasive options)
Non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation treatments include:
- Radiofrequency and laser treatments. They work by heating the tissue to stimulate collagen production to cause a tightening effect. The procedures can treat both the inner and outer vaginal area.
- G-Shot. Temporary dermal fillers are injected into the Grafenberg spot, popularly G-spot, to increase vaginal sensitivity for enhanced sexual pleasure.
- O-Shot. In this procedure, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) taken from your blood gets injected in the clitoris and within the vaginal walls in the G-spot also to increase sensitivity and sexual pressure.
Vaginal rejuvenation (surgical options)
Vaginal rejuvenation involves various procedures. It also goes by other names, such as female genital plastic surgery and vulvovaginal plastic surgery. Here are the surgical options encompassed under vaginal rejuvenation:
- Labiaplasty: surgery to reduce the size of the labia minora (inner lips) for cosmetic reasons or to relieve physical discomfort due to its hanging below the labia majora (outer lips). Patients can undergo either one of two types of labiaplasty, i.e., trim procedure or wedge procedure.
- Clitoral hood reduction: the procedure reduces excess skin around the clitoris for improved aesthetics, increased comfort, and enhanced sexual pleasure. Patients mostly have a clitoral hood reduction as an extension of a labiaplasty by forming a “Y” shaped incision.
- Labia majoraplasty: as the name suggests, this is a procedure to reduce the size of the labia majora to ease discomfort or enhance appearance. It involves the removal of small crescents of skin from the inner side of each labium. The amount removed depends on the amount of excess tissue.
- Monoplasty: a procedure that reduces excess skin and fatty tissue in the mons pubis. The mons pubis is the upper, hair-bearing area above the genitals in both males and females. During a monoplasty, muscles get tightened and excess skin removed. The pubic skin is then pulled upwards for a tightening effect.
- Vaginoplasty: this is a surgical procedure to tighten the vagina due to vaginal laxity from childbirth and normal aging. The treatment involves removing excess skin from inside the vagina, separating the vaginal mucosa from the vaginal muscles, and tightening the vaginal canal and vaginal opening muscles. Vaginoplasty aims to address, among other issues, weakened vaginal muscles, lack of sensation, aesthetically unpleasant vagina, and incontinence problems.
Remember, when you undergo plastic surgery, aside from your physical appearance, you’re also putting your overall health and well-being in your surgeon’s hands.
So it’s imperative you carefully evaluate a surgeon before making a decision. More so since most states allow any licensed physician to legally perform cosmetic surgery even if they have no surgical training at all.
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