Plastic surgery includes reconstructive and cosmetic surgery procedures designed to change, restore or enhance the appearance. Plastic surgery may be sought out by those looking to correct a birth defect, to restore an injured part of the body or to change parts of the body to improve the aesthetics of the face or body. To find out more about statistics on plastic surgery, check out www.plasticsurgery.org. Another resource is the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Individuals seeking plastic surgery may be those who are looking to correct a deformity or a condition they have endured since birth or since an accident or disease. These plastic surgery candidates are usually seeking a reconstructive surgery. Reconstructive plastic surgery can be done to improve the appearance of a scar, to reduce or remove a skin condition and to adjust a malformed body part caused by a birth defect, disease or injury.
Candidates for reconstructive plastic surgery may be any age as the conditions for surgery will be determined by the surgeon performing the procedure in relation to the safety and well being of the patient. Those seeking reconstructive surgery are often patients who have suffered problems in their day-to-day relationships, school or career as a result of the area to be reconstructed.
Those who are unhappy with a part of their body or wish to modify their appearance to improve features or shape are seeking cosmetic plastic surgery. Candidates for cosmetic plastic surgery must be of age or close to adulthood, depending on the surgeon's requirements and the development of the patient. These patients generally wish to modify a portion or multiple areas of their body for cosmetic, non medical purposes.
This form of elective plastic surgery is not medically necessary although it may address self confidence and esteem issues for the patients seeking the procedures. A consultation with a cosmetic surgeon will determine if a patient can be considered a good candidate for the surgery based on health conditions, age and lifestyle habits. As each patient is unique, the assessment of viable surgery is unique as well.
The type of procedure a patient will experience differs by the choice of surgery he or she is seeking. Generally, speaking the patient will have a full consultation with a surgeon prior to the surgery. During this time the surgeon will assess the problem area and determine the best means of corrected the problem. During this discussion, the patient will share her preferences for the cosmetic procedure and the surgeon will outline the procedure to be used as well as the risks inherent with that process.
The surgeon will prepare the patient for the surgery by sharing realistic expectations as well to ensure that the patient is ultimately satisfied with the procedure. In the case of the underage patient, a parent will discuss the potential surgery and make decisions with the input of the child as necessary. This is often the case for reconstructive surgery done early in a patient's life.
On the day of the surgery, the surgeon will use either a local anesthesia with a intravenous sedation or he may opt for a general anesthesia. This choice is determined by the type of surgery the patient will be having as well as the patient and surgeon preference. Once the incision begins, the process will continue in the way described to the patient during the initial consultation.
The patient will be constantly monitored by an anesthesiologist or qualified medical assistant throughout the surgery. The surgeon will continue with the procedure. Most cosmetic surgery procedures take less than four hours, with many taking two hours or less. If multiple surgeries are performed in the same operation, the surgery will take longer as each procedure lengthens the total time spent with the surgeon.
Once the surgery is complete, all incisions will be sutured and restrictive bandages or packing will be put into place to promote proper healing of the surgical area. The bandaging of the surgerically altered areas represents the final steps of the plastic surgery process and the patient will be removed from anesthesia and healing begins.
In the first hours following surgery, the patient will be coming out from under the effects of anesthesia. Local anesthesia wears off more quickly and has fewer side effects, but the majority of plastic surgery patients must recover from general anesthesia. It is normal for these patients to feel groggy, tired and disoriented. Many patients have uncontrollable shaking, or tremors, following the surgery as well. This is a normal part of the recovery process following anesthesia.
During the initial hours of recovery, the patient will be resting in a recovery area or room of the hospital or surgery center. The patient will continued to be monitored until he or she is released to return home or to a recovery center for additional rest and healing. The patient will require a friend or family member as a means of transportation if released to recover at home. Patients should not drive following anesthesia. Other patients may be checked into the hospital to continue the recovery under a closer watch by the surgeon and other medical personnel. Depending on the type of procedure, patients may need someone to look after them for longer periods of time. For example, for eyelid surgery (also known as blepharoplasty), the patient will have limited vision for the first 2 days after surgery.
The patient's recovery time will vary according to the type of surgery performed. Most plastic surgery procedures result in bruising and swelling. Swelling fades dramatically after the first seven to ten days in most cases and bruising fades over the first three weeks. This varies dramatically according to procedure and the unique healing patterns of the patient as well.
A follow-up appointment will be scheduled for the week following surgery. Some follow-up appointments are two to three days following surgery to allow the surgeon to remove drains, packing or certain types of bandaging used in the surgical process. Additional follow-up appointments will allow the surgeon to assess the quality of healing over time.
Plastic surgery, especially elective cosmetic surgery, is not medically necessary in most cases and does put the patient at risk as all surgeries do. There are risks associated plastic surgery, but a frank discussion with the surgeon performing the surgery will ensure that the risks are managed effectively in each unique case and lead to a safe, effective procedure.
Anesthesia presents a risk in every form of plastic surgery. Before surgery, patients have a physical to assess their overall health and determine if risks are present for anesthesia and surgery. Patients under the effects of anesthesia are monitored throughout the process as well to ensure safety.
Prior to surgery, surgeons will request that patient stop smoking up to two weeks prior to surgery. All medications, supplements and vitamins that interfere with the blood's natural clotting abilities will be stopped as well. Smoking increases many risks including excessive bleeding and slower healing times. Patients seeking plastic surgery should be in good overall health and be honest with the surgeon about lifestyle habits.
Infection is a possibility with any surgery, and plastic surgery is not an exception. Many surgeons will battle infection proactively by prescribing a antibiotic at the time of the surgery. This antibiotic is prescribed along with pain medication as patients can expect significant discomfort following plastic surgery as well.
Finally, there is a possibility for all patients that the results obtained from the plastic surgery differ from the expected results. Symmetry may not be correct following a surgery or the results may be bigger, smaller or shaped differently than the patient expected. It is impossible to create an exact image of symmetry and there is some art to the plastic surgery procedure.
The skilled surgeon will work with the patient ahead of time to determine realistic expectations for the procedure. Highly qualified surgeons will have ample experience to prepare patients for the outcome of the surgery, and years of experience often lead to more satisfactory results as well. Scar tissue and unexpected results can be corrected through follow up surgery or additional medical procedures.
Plastic surgery procedures vary in cost dramatically. The cost of the surgical procedure includes the price of any implants, the hospital fee, the fee for the anesthesiologist and the surgeon's fees. The surgeon's fees are often the most variable components of the price as the fees charged by a surgeon shift with location, demand for a particular procedure as well as the experience of the surgeon. Many patients choose to change locations for a procedure in an effort to better control the cost of a procedure that may be more expensive in the area where they live.
Insurance may cover a portion of the fees associated with plastic surgery that corrects an injury, birth defect or the result of a disease. Reconstructive plastic surgery is much more likely to be covered by insurance than cosmetic plastic surgery. Most cosmetic plastic surgery is considered an elective surgery and it is not covered by insurance.
Many plastic surgeons are willing to take credit cards for a plastic surgery procedure. This is one way of paying a large fee for the surgery. Additionally, there are companies that offer financing options for plastic surgery that make payments affordable over a certain period of time. A surgeon can direct a patient to the companies that offer financing options.
While the body will continue to age and change with the effects of gravity and time, the results from most forms of plastic surgery can be considered long-lasting. Some procedures, such as breast augmentation and fat grafting are not considered permanent as the body will reabsorb the fat from the graft in many cases and breast implants will need to be replaced as they grow older. Other procedures such as a face lift or tummy tuck will be permanent changes, but the face and body will continue to change over time and if there is a weight gain or loss. Sometimes two or more procedures are combined to yield better results. For example, liposuction is often performed with a tummy tuck procedure.
Reconstructive surgery may be available to children suffering from injuries or birth defects. Reconstructive plastic surgery makes it possible for these children to be more confident in their appearance and to lead a more satisfactory lift. Elective plastic surgery may be performed on teens in certain circumstances.
Rhinoplasty, for example, may be performed on teens aged sixteen or older as the bones and cartilage in the nose have essentially stopped growing at that point. Other procedures like breast augmentation cannot be performed until the patient is eighteen if she is seeking saline implants or twenty-one if the patient prefers silicone implants.
The wide variety of plastic surgery procedures makes it impossible to determine the best age for a patient to pursue a procedure. Some procedures, such as a face lift, are generally performed on more mature patients while other procedures including otoplasty, which corrects ear deformities, may be performed on patients who under six years of age. A surgeon can determine the best age for a patient seeking a particular plastic surgery procedure.
Most plastic surgery procedures are performed in a hospital, although other procedures may be performed in surgical suites in the surgeon's office or in a surgical center. Many surgeons offer patients the choice with hospitals generally considered the safest option available.
In certain cases, the surgeon will recommend that a patient stay in the hospital overnight. Patients undergoing a complicated procedure or those with complications may be admitted for observation following surgery while the majority of plastic surgery procedures are considered outpatient surgeries.
Many patients opt for plastic surgery in other countries as the price is significantly lower than the fees charged by surgeons in their area. Traveling for medical practices is termed medical tourism and it is a practice that is becoming more common among those seeking elective surgeries.
Patients can expect a certain amount of discomfort with plastic surgery procedures. The amount of pain from the surgery is determined by the type of surgery as well as the type of anesthesia used during the procedure.
The recovery period for plastic surgery varies dramatically by the type of procedure. Generally speaking, most plastic surgery patients are released from the hospital or surgery center on the same day as the procedure. Many return to work one to three weeks following the procedure although some swelling and bruising may persist for months. Certain activities, such as strenuous exercise, will be restricted following procedures for some time as well.