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Cosmetic Surgery: A Rundown of Procedures
Plastic surgery side effects are generally temporary and the risks and recovery times may vary. Your physician can give you an estimated recovery time that is specific for you. Risk tends to be greater with the use of general anesthesia, which puts you to sleep. It is different from local anesthesia, which is applied directly to the site of the surgery and does not put you to sleep.
Cosmetic procedures that are not due to a medical condition are generally not covered by insurance.
Above the Neck
Nose Reshaping (Rhinoplasty)
Description: General anesthesia is given. The skin of the nose is separated from the bone and cartilage, which is sculpted to the desired shape. The skin is redraped over the new framework and a splint is applied to keep the nose stabilized.
Side Effects: Swelling and bruising around the nose, headache, bleeding, nasal stuffiness, and discomfort
Potential Risks: Infection, small burst blood vessels, deviated septum, and incomplete improvement, requiring additional surgery
Description: General anesthesia is given. Incisions are made, usually just above the hairline at the temples, extending in a natural line from in front of the ear to behind the earlobe to the lower back part of the scalp. The skin is separated from the underlying fat and muscle. Fat may be trimmed or suctioned from around the neck and chin to improve the contour. The underlying muscle and membrane are tightened and the skin is pulled back, and the excess removed. Stitches secure the layers of tissue and close the incisions. Metal clips may be used on the scalp.
Side Effects: Swelling, bruising, numbness, skin tenderness, dryness, and tightness
Potential Risks: Infection, bleeding, poor healing, injury to nerves that control facial muscles, excessive scarring, and changes in the hairline
Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty)
Description: Local or general anesthesia is administered. Incisions are made in the creases of the upper lids and just below the lashes in the lower lids. The incisions may extend into the crow's feet or laugh lines at the outer corners of the eyes. The skin is separated from underlying muscle and fatty tissue. Excess fat is removed and sagging skin and muscles are trimmed. The incisions are then closed with fine sutures.
Side Effects: Temporary discomfort, eyelid tightness, swelling, bruising, dryness, tearing, itching, and sensitivity to light
Potential Risks: Blurred or double vision, infection, bleeding, swelling, dry eyes, asymmetrical healing or scarring, difficulty closing eyes, and blindness
Below the Neck
Breast Augmentation (Augmentation Mammoplasty)
Description: General anesthesia is given. An incision may be made in the crease where the breast meets the chest, around the areola, or in the armpit. The breast tissue is lifted to create a pocket where the breast implant is placed, either directly behind the breast tissue or behind the chest muscle. Tubes may be temporarily placed for drainage and the incision is closed with small sutures.
Side Effects: Soreness, skin wrinkling, swelling, changes in nipple sensitivity, bruising, and altered mammographic appearance
Potential Risks: Bleeding, infection, thick wide scars, implant rupture or deflation, unevenly positioned nipples, and loss of sensation in breasts or nipples
Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)
Description: General anesthesia is given. An incision is made in the lower abdomen (just above the pubic bone) from hipbone to hipbone, and another small incision is made to free the navel from surrounding tissue. The skin from the abdominal wall is separated all the way up to the ribs, and the underlying abdominal muscles are tightened by pulling them close together and stitching them into their new position. This provides a firmer abdominal wall and narrows the waistline. The skin flap is stretched down and extra skin is removed. A new hole is cut for the navel, which is stitched in place. Finally, the incisions are closed with stitches, dressings are applied, and a temporary tube may be inserted to drain excess fluid from the surgical site.
Side Effects: Swelling, bruising, and discomfort
Potential Risks: Bleeding, infection, blood clots, and poor healing or scarring
Description: Local or general anesthesia is given. A small incision is made in the skin and a narrow tube, called a cannula, is inserted through the incision to vacuum the fat layer that lies deep beneath the skin. The cannula is pushed and pulled through the fat layer, breaking up the fat cells and suctioning them out. More than one site may be treated during the surgery. IV fluids are given to replace the fluid that is being lost along with the fat. The incisions are closed and temporary drainage tubes are sometimes inserted to drain fluid that builds up at the surgery site. After surgery, some patients are fitted with a snug elastic garment to wear during recovery.
Side Effects: Swelling, bruising, numbness, soreness, and burning sensation
Potential Risks: Infection, bleeding, excessive fluid loss leading to shock, asymmetry, lumpiness, rippling, bagginess, or pigmentation changes of the skin; and fluid retention
American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
Breast augmentation. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Cosmetic-Procedures/Breast-Augmentation.html. Accessed July 14, 2014.
Eyelid surgery. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/eyelid-surgery.html?sub=Eyelid+surgery+risks+and+safety+information#content. Accessed July 14, 2014.
Facelift surgery. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/facelift.html?sub=What%20to%20expect%20during%20your%20facelift%20consultation. Accessed July 14, 2014.
Liposuction. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/liposuction.html. Accessed July 14, 2014.
Rhinoplasty. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Cosmetic-Procedures/Nose-Surgery-.html. Accessed July 14, 2014.
Tummy tuck. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Cosmetic-Procedures/Tummy-Tuck.html. Accessed July 14, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 07/2014
- Update Date: 07/14/2014