Carpel tunnel syndrome can cause tingling, numbness, or a dull ache in the shaded area shown in this illustration.
The surgeon makes an incision from the palm to the wrist, providing access to the tissue that’s causing pressure on the nerve.
A section of tissue is cut, relieving pressure on the nerve and restoring feeling and function to the hand.
In Dupuytren’s contracture, scar-like tissue in the palm pulls fingers into an abnormal position. The surgeon may make zig-zag incisions across this band of tissue, creating small skin flaps.
After surgery the repositioned flaps expand like an accordion, allowing freer finger motion.
In a typical syndactyly, two fingers are fused together. The surgeon often uses zig-zag incisions to separate the fingers, creating triangular skin flaps.
Skin flaps cover most of the exposed areas between the fingers. Skin grafts are used to fill the shaded areas at the base of the fingers.
Dramatic advances have been made in recent years in treating patients with hand injuries, degenerative disorders, and birth defects of the hand. At the forefront of these advances have been plastic surgeons-specialists whose major interest is improving both function and appearance. Plastic surgeons undergo intensive training in hand surgery, and they (along with orthopedic surgeons and general surgeons) treat patients with a wide range of hand problems.
This information is designed to give you a basic understanding of the most common hand problems-what they are, what plastic surgeons can do for them, and the results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your questions, since each problem is unique and a great deal depends on your individual circumstances. Please be sure to ask your doctor if there is anything about the procedure you don’t understand.
If you’re considering hand surgery, a consultation with a plastic surgeon is a good place to start. The surgeon will examine you, discuss the possible methods of treatment for your problem, and let you know if surgery is warranted. If it is, the surgeon will discuss the procedure in detail, including where the surgery will be performed (in the surgeon’s office, an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital), the anesthesia and surgical techniques that will be used, possible risks and complications, the recovery and rehabilitation period, and the probable outcome in terms of function and appearance.
Don’t hesitate to ask your surgeon any questions you may have during the initial consultation-including any concerns you have about the recommended treatment and the costs involved. (Since hand surgery is performed primarily to correct physical abnormalities, it usually is covered by insurance. Check your policy or call your carrier to be sure.)
Thousands of successful hand operations are performed each year. While the procedures are generally safe when performed by a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon, complications can arise.
In all types of hand surgery, the possible complications include infection, poor healing, loss of feeling or motion, blood clots, and adverse reactions to the anesthesia. These complications are infrequent, however, and they can generally be treated. You can reduce your risks by choosing a qualified surgeon and by closely following his or her advice.
The most common procedures in hand surgery are those done to repair injured hands, including injuries to the tendons, nerves, blood vessels, and joints; fractured bones; and burns, cuts, and other injuries to the skin. Modern techniques have greatly improved the surgeon’s ability to restore function and appearance, even in severe injuries.
Among the techniques now used by plastic surgeons:
In many cases, surgery can restore a significant degree of feeling and function to injured hands. However, recovery may take months, and a period of hand therapy will most often be needed (see Recovery and rehabilitation below.)
The carpal tunnel is a passageway through the wrist carrying tendons and one of the hand’s major nerves. Pressure may build up within the tunnel because of disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis), injury, fluid retention during pregnancy, overuse, or repetitive motions. The resulting pressure on the nerve within the tunnel causes a tingling sensation in the hand, often accompanied by numbness, aching, and impaired hand function. This is known as carpal tunnel syndrome.
In some cases, splinting of the hand and anti-inflammatory medications will relieve the problem. If this doesn’t work, however, surgery may be required.
In the operation, the surgeon makes an incision from the middle of the palm to the wrist. He or she will then cut the tissue that’s pressing on the nerve, in order to release the pressure. A large dressing and splint are used after surgery to restrict motion and promote healing. The scar will gradually fade and become barely visible.
The results of the surgery will depend in part on how long the condition has existed and how much damage has been done to the nerve. For that reason, it’s a good idea to see a doctor early if you think you may have carpal tunnel syndrome.
Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammation of the joints, is a disabling disease that can affect the appearance and the function of the hands and other parts of the body. It often deforms finger joints and forces the fingers into a bent position that hampers movement.
Disabilities caused by rheumatoid arthritis can often be managed without surgery-for example, by wearing special splints or using physical therapy to strengthen weakened areas. For some patients, however, surgery offers the best solution. Whether or not to have surgery is a decision you should make in consultation with your surgeon and your rheumatologist.
Surgeons can repair or reconstruct almost any area of the hand or wrist by removing tissue from inflamed joints, repositioning tendons, or implanting artificial joints. While your hand may not regain its full use, you can generally expect a significant improvement in function and appearance. Still, it’s important to remember that surgical repair doesn’t eliminate the underlying disease. Rheumatoid arthritis can continue to cause damage to your hand, sometimes requiring further surgery, and you’ll still need to see your rheumatologist for continuing care.
Dupuytren’s contracture is a disorder of the skin and underlying tissue on the palm side of the hand. Thick, scar-like tissue forms under the skin of the palm and may extend into the fingers, pulling them toward the palm and restricting motion. The condition usually develops in mid-life and has no known cause (though it has a tendency to run in families).
Surgery is the only treatment for Dupuytren’s contracture. The surgeon will cut and separate the bands of thickened tissue, freeing the tendons and allowing better finger movement. The operation must be done very precisely, since the nerves that supply the hand and fingers are often tightly bound up in the abnormal tissue. In some cases, skin grafts are also needed to replace tightened and puckered skin.
The results of the surgery will depend on the severity of the condition. You can usually expect significant improvement in function, particularly after physical therapy (see Recovery and rehabilitation.), and a thin, fairly inconspicuous scar.
Congenital deformities of the hand-that is, deformities a child is born with-can interfere with proper hand growth and cause significant problems in the use of the hand. Fortunately, with modern surgical techniques most defects can be corrected at a very early age-in some cases during infancy, in others at two or three years-allowing normal development and functioning of the hand.
One of the most common congenital defects is syndactyly, in which two or more fingers are fused together. Surgical correction involves cutting the tissue that connects the fingers, then grafting skin from another part of the body. (The procedure is more complicated if bones are also fused.) Surgery can usually provide a full range of motion and a fairly normal appearance, although the color of the grafted skin may be slightly different from the rest of the hand.
Other common congenital defects include short, missing, or deformed fingers, immobile tendons, and abnormal nerves or blood vessels. In most cases, these defects can be treated surgically and significant improvement can be expected.
Since the hand is a very sensitive part of the body, you may have mild to severe pain following surgery. Your surgeon can prescribe injections or oral medication to make you more comfortable. How long your hand must remain immobilized and how quickly you resume your normal activities depends on the type and extent of surgery and on how fast you heal.
To enhance your recovery and give you the fullest possible use of your hand, your surgeon may recommend a course of rehabilitation (physical and occupational therapy) under the direction of a trained hand therapist. Your therapy may include hand exercises, heat and massage therapy, electrical nerve stimulation, splinting, traction, and special wrappings to control swelling. Keep in mind that surgery is just the foundation for recovery. It’s crucial that you follow the therapist’s instructions and complete the entire course of therapy if you want to regain the maximum use of your hand.
Hair replacement candidates should have some noticeable hair loss with healthy hair growth at the back and sides of the head to serve as doner areas.
A tube-like instrument punches round gafts from the donor site to be placed in the area where hair replacement is desired.
A tissue expander causes the skin of hair-bearing scalp to gradually expand.
When the skin beneath the hair has stretched enough, it is surgically placed over the bald area.
During flap surgery, a section of bald scalp is cut out and a flap of hair-bearing skin is sewn into its place.
The patterns used in scalp reduction vary widely, yet all meet the goal of bringing hair and scalp together to cover bald areas.
The results of hair replacement surgery can enhance your appearance and self-confidence.
Hair loss is primarily caused by a combination of aging, a change in hormones, and a family history of baldness. As a rule, the earlier hair loss begins, the more severe the baldness will become. Hair loss can also be caused by burns or trauma, in which case hair replacement surgery is considered a reconstructive treatment, and may be covered by health insurance.
If you and your doctor have determined that hair transplants are the best option for you, you can feel comfortable knowing that board-certified plastic surgeons have been successfully performing this type of procedure for more than thirty years.
If you’re considering hair replacement surgery, this brochure will give you a basic understanding of the variety of procedures involved. It can’t answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Ask your surgeon if there is anything you don’t understand about the procedure you plan to have.
Baldness is often blamed on poor circulation to the scalp, vitamin deficiencies, dandruff, and even excessive hat-wearing. All of these theories have been disproved. It’s also untrue that hair loss can be determined by looking at your maternal grandfather, or that 40-year-old men who haven’t lost their hair will never lose it.
Hair replacement surgery can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but the results won’t necessarily match your ideal. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.
It’s important to understand that all hair replacement techniques use your existing hair. The goal of surgery is to find the most efficient uses for existing hair.
Hair replacement candidates must have healthy hair growth at the back and sides of the head to serve as donor areas. Donor areas are the places on the head from which grafts and flaps are taken. Other factors, such as hair color, texture and waviness or curliness may also affect the cosmetic result. There are a number of techniques used in hair replacement surgery. Sometimes, two or more techniques are used to achieve the best results.
Transplant techniques, such as punch grafts, mini-grafts, micro-grafts, slit grafts, and strip grafts are generally performed on patients who desire a more modest change in hair fullness. Flaps, tissue-expansion and scalp-reduction are procedures that are usually more appropriate for patients who desire a more dramatic change.
Remember, there are limits to what can be accomplished. An individual with very little hair might not be advised to undergo hair replacement surgery.
Some doctors estimate that one in five women will experience some degree of hair loss usually caused by aging, illness, or hormonal changes after menopause. Women tend to experience a subtle thinning all over the scalp rather than losing hair in patches as is common in men. To correct the problem, some women choose to wear a wig or hair extensions. Others have had some success using a topical prescriptive drug. The effectiveness of such drugs varies in some patients and simply prevents further hair loss without stimulating any appreciable new growth. Hair replacement surgery may be the answer for those who feel uncomfortable with either of these options.
Because mini-grafts are usually the surgical treatment of choice for filling-in thinning areas, good candidates for this procedure should have dense hair growth at the back of the head. Mini-grafts are harvested from this dense area and replanted in thinning areas to create a fuller look. Occasionally flap and tissue expansion procedures may be used if the individual is judged to be a good candidate.
If you’re considering a hair replacement procedure, it’s important to understand that you will never have the coverage you had prior to your hair loss, but surgery may camouflage the thin areas and give you more fullness.
Hair replacement surgery is normally safe when performed by a qualified, experienced physician. Still, individuals vary greatly in their physical reactions and healing abilities, and the outcome is never completely predictable.
As in any surgical procedure, infection may occur. Excessive bleeding and/or wide scars, sometimes called “stretch-back” scars caused by tension may result from some scalp-reduction procedures.
In transplant procedures, there is a risk that some of the grafts won’t “take.” Although it is normal for the hair contained within the plugs to fall out before establishing regrowth in its new location, sometimes the skin plug dies and surgery must be repeated. At times, patients with plug grafts will notice small bumps on the scalp that form at the transplant sites. These areas can usually be camouflaged with surrounding hair.
When hair loss progresses after surgery, an unnatural, “patchy” look may result-especially if the newly-placed hair lies next to patches of hair that continue to thin out. If this happens, additional surgery may be required.
Hair replacement surgery is an individualized treatment. To make sure that every surgical option is available to you, find a doctor who has experience performing all types of replacement techniques-flaps and tissue expansion as well as transplants. Look elsewhere if your doctor tells you that he or she has perfected one technique that can “do it all.”
In your initial consultation, your surgeon will evaluate your hair growth and loss, review your family history of hair loss, and find out if you’ve had any previous hair replacement surgery. Your surgeon will also ask you about your lifestyle and discuss your expectations and goals for surgery.
Medical conditions that could cause problems during or after surgery, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, blood-clotting problems, or the tendency to form excessive scars, should also be checked by your doctor. Be sure to tell your surgeon if you smoke or are taking any drugs or medications, especially aspirin or other drugs that affect clotting.
If you decide to have hair replacement surgery, your surgeon will explain anesthesia, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the risks and cost involved. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions.
Make sure you understand your surgeon’s plan-which procedures will be used and how long each will take. Ask your doctor to give you an idea of what you will look like after the procedure or, in the case of grafts, after each stage of treatment.
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking and avoiding certain vitamins and medications. Carefully following these instructions will help your surgery go more smoothly. If you smoke, it’s especially important to stop at least a week or two before surgery; smoking inhibits blood flow to the skin, and can interfere with healing.
You should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery. Plan to take it easy for a day or two after the procedure and arrange for assistance if you think you’ll need it.
Hair replacement surgery is usually performed in a physician’s office-based facility or in an outpatient surgery center. Rarely does it require a hospital stay.
Hair replacement surgery, no matter what technique is used, is usually performed using a local anesthesia along with sedation to make you relaxed and comfortable. Your scalp will be insensitive to pain, but you may be aware of some tugging or pressure.
General anesthesia may be used for more complex cases involving tissue expansion or flaps. If general anesthesia is used, you’ll sleep through the procedure.
Hair transplantation involves removing small pieces of hair-bearing scalp grafts from a donor site and relocating them to a bald or thinning area. Grafts differ by size and shape. Round-shaped punch grafts usually contain about 10-15 hairs. The much smaller mini-graft contains about two to four hairs; and the micro-graft, one to two hairs. Slit grafts, which are inserted into slits created in the scalp, contain about four to10 hairs each; strip grafts are long and thin and contain 30-40 hairs.
Generally, several surgical sessions may be needed to achieve satisfactory fullness-and a healing interval of several months is usually recommended between each session. It may take up to two years before you see the final result with a full transplant series. The amount of coverage you’ll need is partly dependent upon the color and texture of your hair. Coarse, gray or light-colored hair affords better coverage than fine, dark-colored hair. The number of large plugs transplanted in the first session varies with each individual, but the average is about 50. For mini-grafts or micro-grafts, the number can be up to 700 per session.
Just before surgery, the “donor area” will be trimmed short so that the grafts can be easily accessed and removed. For punch grafts, your doctor may use a special tube-like instrument made of sharp carbon steel that punches the round graft out of the donor site so it can be replaced in the area to be covered-generally the frontal hairline. For other types of grafts, your doctor will use a scalpel to remove small sections of hair-bearing scalp, which will be divided into tiny sections and transplanted into tiny holes or slits within the scalp. When grafts are taken, your doctor may periodically inject small amounts of saline solution into the scalp to maintain proper skin strength. The donor site holes may be closed with stitches-for punch grafts, a single stitch may close each punch site; for other types of grafts, a small, straight-line scar will result. The stitches are usually concealed with the surrounding hair.
To maintain healthy circulation in the scalp, the grafts are placed about one-eighth of an inch apart. In later sessions, the spaces between the plugs will be filled in with additional grafts. Your doctor will take great care in removing and placement of grafts to ensure that the transplanted hair will grow in a natural direction and that hair growth at the donor site is not adversely affected.
After the grafting session is complete, the scalp will be cleansed and covered with gauze. You may have to wear a pressure bandage for a day or two. Some doctors allow their patients to recover bandage-free.
Plastic surgeons are the leaders in tissue expansion, a procedure commonly used in reconstructive surgery to repair burn wounds and injuries with significant skin loss. Its application in hair replacement surgery has yielded dramatic results-significant coverage in a relatively short amount of time.
In this technique, a balloon-like device called a tissue expander is inserted beneath hair-bearing scalp that lies next to a bald area. The device is gradually inflated with salt water over a period of weeks, causing the skin to expand and grow new skin cells. This causes a bulge beneath the hair-bearing scalp, especially after several weeks.
When the skin beneath the hair has stretched enough-usually about two months after the first operation-another procedure is performed to bring the expanded skin over to cover the adjacent bald area. For more information about tissue expansion, ask your plastic surgeon for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Inc. brochure entitled, Tissue Expansion: Creating New Skin from Old.
Flap surgery: Flap surgery on the scalp has been performed successfully for more than 20 years. This procedure is capable of quickly covering large areas of baldness and is customized for each individual patient. The size of the flap and its placement are largely dependent upon the patient’s goals and needs. One flap can do the work of 350 or more punch grafts.
A section of bald scalp is cut out and a flap of hair-bearing skin is lifted off the surface while still attached at one end. The hair-bearing flap is brought into its new position and sewn into place, while remaining “tethered” to its original blood supply.
As you heal, you’ll notice that the scar is camouflaged-or at least obscured-by relocated hair, which grows to the very edge of the incision.
In recent years, plastic surgeons have made significant advances in flap techniques, combining flap surgery and scalp reduction for better coverage of the crown; or with tissue expansion, to provide better frontal coverage and a more natural hairline.
Scalp reduction: This technique is sometimes referred to as advancement flap surgery because sections of hair-bearing scalp are pulled forward or “advanced” to fill in a bald crown.
Scalp reduction is for coverage of bald areas at the top and back of the head. It’s not beneficial for coverage of the frontal hairline. After the scalp is injected with a local anesthetic, a segment of bald scalp is removed. The pattern of the section of removed scalp varies widely, depending on the patient’s goals. If a large amount of coverage is needed, doctors commonly remove a segment of scalp in an inverted Y-shape. Excisions may also be shaped like a U, a pointed oval, or some other figure.
The skin surrounding the cut-out area is loosened and pulled, so that the sections of hair-bearing scalp can be brought together and closed with stitches. It’s likely that you’ll feel a strong tugging at this point, and occasional pain.
How you feel after surgery depends on the extent and complexity of the procedure. Any aching, excessive tightness, or throbbing can be controlled with pain medication prescribed by your physician.
If bandages are used, they will usually be removed one day later. You may gently wash your hair within two days following surgery. Any stitches will be removed in a week to 10 days. Be sure to discuss the possibility of swelling, bruising, and drainage with your surgeon.
Because strenuous activity increases blood flow to the scalp and may cause your transplants or incisions to bleed, you may be instructed to avoid vigorous exercise and contact sports for at least three weeks. Some doctors also advise that sexual activity be avoided for at least 10 days after surgery.
To make sure that your incisions are healing properly, your doctor will probably want to see you several times during the first month after surgery. It’s important that you carefully follow any advice you receive at these follow-up visits.
How soon you resume your normal routine depends on the length, complexity and type of surgery you’ve had. You may feel well enough to go back to work and resume normal, light activity after several days.
Many patients who have had transplants (plugs or other grafts) are dismayed to find that their “new” hair falls out within six weeks after surgery. Remember, this condition is normal and almost always temporary. After hair falls out, it will take another five to six weeks before hair growth resumes. You can expect about a half-inch of growth per month.
You may need a surgical “touch-up” procedure to create more natural-looking results after your incisions have healed. Sometimes, this involves blending, a filling-in of the hairline using a combination of mini-grafts, micro-grafts, or slit grafts. Or, if you’ve had a flap procedure, a small bump called a “dog ear” may remain visible on the scalp. Your doctor can surgically remove this after complete healing has occurred.
In general, it’s best to anticipate that you will need a touch-up procedure. Your surgeon can usually predict how extensive your follow-up surgery is likely to be.
Tissue expansion is ideal for scalp repair because the stretched skin on the scalp retains normal hair growth. Most other body tissue does not grow hair to the same degree.
Following tissue expansion, the repaired scalp restores a more natural appearance.
With flap surgery, tissue, sometimes including underlying fat and muscle, is taken from the back and tunneled to the front of the chest wall to support the reconstructed breast.
The transported tissue forms a flap to cover a breast implant, or it may provide enough bulk to form the breast mound without an implant.
In a typical syndactyly, two fingers are fused together. The surgeon often uses zig-zag incisions to separate the fingers, creating triangular skin flaps.
Skin flaps cover most of the exposed areas between the fingers. Skin grafts are used to fill the shaded areas at the base of the fingers.
We bring back, refashion and restore to wholeness the features that nature gave but chance destroyed, not that they may be an advantage to the living soul, not as a mean artifice but as an alleviation of illness, not as becomes charlatans but as becomes good physicians and followers of the great Hippocrates. For though the original beauty is indeed restored . . . the end for which the physician is working is that the features should fulfill their offices according to nature’s decree.
Gaspare Tagliacozzi, 1597
It’s estimated that more that one million reconstructive procedures are performed by plastic surgeons every year. Reconstructive surgery helps patients of all ages and types – whether it’s a child with a birth defect, a young adult injured in an accident, or an older adult with a problem caused by aging.
The goals of reconstructive surgery differ from those of cosmetic surgery. Reconstructive surgery is performed on abnormal structures of the body, caused by birth defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma or injury, infection, tumors, or disease. It is generally performed to improve function, but may also be done to approximate a normal appearance.
Cosmetic surgery is performed to reshape normal structures of the body to improve the patient’s appearance and self-esteem.
Although no amount of surgery can achieve “perfection,” modern treatment options allow plastic surgeons to achieve improvements in form and function thought to be impossible 10 years ago.
This will give you a basic understanding of some commonly-used techniques in reconstructive surgery. It won’t answer all of your questions, since each problem is unique and a great deal depends on your individual circumstances. Please be sure to ask your doctor to explain anything you don’t understand. Also, ask for information that specifically details the procedure you are considering for yourself or your child.
There are two basic categories of patients: those who have congenital deformities, otherwise known as birth defects, and those with developmental deformities, acquired as a result of accident, infection, disease, or in some cases, aging.
Some common examples of congenital abnormalities are birthmarks; cleft-lip and palate deformities; hand deformities such as syndactyly (webbed fingers), or extra or absent fingers; and abnormal breast development.
Burn wounds, lacerations, growths, and aging problems are considered acquired deformities. In some cases, patients may find that a procedure commonly thought to be aesthetic in nature may be performed to achieve a reconstructive goal. For example, some older adults with redundant or drooping eyelid skin blocking their field of vision might have eyelid surgery. Or an adult whose face has an asymmetrical look because of paralysis might have a balancing facelift. Although appearance is enhanced, the main goal of the surgery is to restore function.
Large, sagging breasts are one example of a deformity that develops as a result of genetics, hormonal changes, or disease. Breast reduction, or reduction mammaplasty, is the reconstructive procedure designed to give a woman smaller, more comfortable breasts in proportion with the rest of her body.
In another case, a young child might have reconstructive otoplasty (outer-ear surgery) to correct overly-large or deformed ears. Usually, health insurance policies will consider the cost of reconstructive surgery a covered expense. Check with your carrier to make sure you’re covered and to see if there are any limitations on the type of surgery you’re planning. Work with your doctor to get pre-authorization from the insurer for the procedure.
When reconstructive surgery is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. However, individuals vary greatly in their anatomy and healing ability and the outcome is never completely predictable.
As with any surgery, complications can occur. These may include infection; excessive bleeding, such as hematomas (pooling of blood beneath the skin); significant bruising and wound-healing difficulties; and problems related to anesthesia and surgery.
There are a number of factors that may increase the risk of complications in healing. In general, a patient is considered to be a higher risk if he or she is a smoker; has a connective-tissue disease; has areas of damaged skin from radiation therapy; has decreased circulation to the surgical area; has HIV or an impaired immune system; or has poor nutrition. If you regularly take aspirin or some other medication that affects blood clotting, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to stop a week or two before surgery.
In evaluating your condition, a plastic surgeon will be guided by a se t of rules known as the reconstructive ladder. The least-complex types of treatments-such as simple wound closure-are at the lower part of the ladder. Any highly complex procedure-like micro-surgery to reattach severed limbs-would occupy one of the ladder’s highest rungs. A plastic surgeon will almost always begin at the bottom of the reconstructive ladder in deciding how to approach a patient’s treatment, favoring the most direct, least-complex way of achieving the desired result.
The size, nature and extent of the injury or deformity will determine what treatment option is chosen and how quickly the surgery will be performed. Reconstructive surgery frequently demands complex planning and may require a number of procedures done in stages.
Because it’s not always possible to predict how growth will affect outcome, a growing child may have to plan for regular follow-up visits on a long-term basis to allow additional surgery as the child matures.
Everyone heals at a different rate-and plastic surgeons cannot pinpoint an exact “back-to-normal” date following surgery. They can, however, give you a general idea of when you can expect to notice improvement.
In deciding how to treat a wound, a plastic surgeon must carefully assess its size, severity, and features: Is skin missing? Have nerves or muscles been damaged? Has skeletal support been affected?
As you and your plastic surgeon form your surgical plan, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what will happen during the procedure. Asking questions is key to making an informed decision.
Direct closure is usually performed on skin-surface wounds that have straight edges, such as a simple cut. Maximum attention is given to the aesthetic result, taking extra care to minimize noticeable stitch marks.
A wound that is wide and difficult or impossible to close directly may be treated with a skin graft. A skin graft is basically a patch of healthy skin that is taken from one area of the body, called the “donor site,” and used to cover another area where skin is missing or damaged. There are three basic types of skin grafts.
A split-thickness skin graft, commonly used to treat burn wounds, uses only the layers of skin closest to the surface. When possible, your plastic surgeon will choose a less conspicuous donor site. Location will be determined in part by the size and color of the skin patch needed. The skin will grow back at the donor site, however, it may be a bit lighter in color.
A full-thickness skin graft might be used to treat a burn wound that is deep and large, or to cover jointed areas where maximum skin elasticity and movement are needed. As its name implies, the surgeon lifts a full-thickness (all layers) section of skin from the donor site. A thin line scar usually results from a direct wound closure at the donor site.
A composite graft is used when the wound to be covered needs more underlying support, as with skin cancer on the nose. A composite graft requires lifting all the layers of skin, fat, and sometimes the underlying cartilage from the donor site. A straight-line scar will remain at the site where the graft was taken. It will fade with time.
Tissue expansion is a procedure that enables the body to “grow” extra skin by stretching adjacent tissue. A balloon-like device called an expander is inserted under the skin near the area to be repaired and then gradually filled with salt water over time, causing the skin to stretch and grow. The time involved in tissue expansion depends on the individual case and the size of the area to be repaired.
The advantages of tissue expansion are many-it offers a near-perfect match of skin color, sensation, and texture; the risk of tissue loss is decreased because the skin remains connected to its original blood and nerve supply; and scars are less apparent than those in flaps or grafts. The expander temporarily creates what can be an unsightly bulge, making this option undesirable for some patients.
Though success will largely depend on the extent of a patient’s injury, flap surgery and microsurgery have vastly improved a plastic surgeon’s ability to help a severely injured or disfigured patient. Using advanced techniques that often take many hours and may require the use of an operating microscope, plastic surgeons can now replant amputated fingers or transplant large sections of tissue, muscle or bone from one area of the body to another with the original blood supply in tact.
A flap is a section of living tissue that carries its own blood supply and is moved from one area of the body to another. Flap surgery can restore form and function to areas of the body that have lost skin, fat, muscle movement, and/or skeletal support.
A local flap uses a piece of skin and underlying tissue that lie adjacent to the wound. The flap remains attached at one end so that it continues to be nourished by its original blood supply, and is repositioned over the wounded area.
A regional flap uses a section of tissue that is attached by a specific blood vessel. When the flap is lifted, it needs only a very narrow attachment to the original site to receive its nourishing blood supply from the tethered artery and vein.
A musculocutaneous flap, also called a muscle and skin flap, is used when the area to be covered needs more bulk and a more robust blood supply. Musculocutaneous flaps are often used in breast reconstruction to rebuild a breast after mastectomy. This type of flap remains “tethered” to its original blood supply.
In a bone/soft tissue flap, bone, along with the overlying skin, is transferred to the wounded area, carrying its own blood supply.
A microvascular free flap is a section of tissue and skin that is completely detached from its original site and reattached to its new site by hooking up all the tiny blood vessels.
In addition to correcting cuts and other surface wounds, plastic surgeons also regularly treat both cancerous and non-cancerous growths and problems with the supporting structures beneath the skin.
Tumors, both cancerous and benign, vary widely in type, severity and recurrence. The removal method chosen will depend largely on the type of growth, what stage it’s in, and its location on the body.
Skin cancers and growths are usually removed by excision and closure, in which the growth is simply removed completely with a scalpel, leaving a small thin scar. If the cancer is large or spreading, major surgery may be necessary, using flaps to reconstruct the affected area.
Whether the defect is congenital or acquired, plastic surgeons can usually restore comfort, mobility, and normal appearance to patients with hand problems. Acquired defects include carpal tunnel and other painful conditions caused by pressure on the nerves (usually at the wrist or elbow); trigger fingers, a condition caused by swelling of a flexor tendon in the hand; ganglion cysts, a benign cystic growth and scar contracture which occurs when a wound or burn on the hand heals poorly and forms scar tissue that curls the fingers or restricts mobility. Dupuytren’s disease causes a similar problem of hand contracture.
Children born with syndactyly (webbed fingers) can benefit from finger separation, where a zig-zag-type incision separates the fingers and rearranges the tissue between them, preventing growth deformities. If a child had polydactyly (extra fingers), correction is often more than simply removing the extra digits. The surgeon may also need to balance the tendons of the hand and stabilize the remaining finger joints so that the hand functions as normally as possible. Plastic surgeons also reconstruct missing digits, including the thumb, which supplies half of the hand’s function.
In the past decade, laser technology has revolutionized many areas of plastic surgery. The laser’s allure comes from its ability to “blast” away or diminish imperfections or growths with a minimum of bleeding, bruising, and scarring.
Currently, there are many types of lasers available, with many more under development. Therefore, it’s important to understand that not all lasers are alike.
If you’re planning to have laser surgery, it’s best to find a doctor who is well experienced with, and has access to, a variety of lasers.
The yellow pulsed-dye laser uses a type of dye as its active medium. It has a pulsing beam that is heavily absorbed by hemoglobin, which gives blood its red color. This laser is often used for performing surgery on children who have pinkish birthmarks called port-wine stains. The laser destroys the abnormal blood vessels, lightening the birthmark to the point of being barely noticeable. Scarring, which was a problem with earlier laser models, is minimal with the yellow pulsed-dye laser.
The “pigment-blasting” laser family-the Q-switch ruby, the Q-switch YAG, and the alexandrite is a new group of lasers effective in eliminating the black and blue pigments of tattoos, pigmented lesions and the brown patches and spots that often occur with aging. Though the removal of decorative tattoos is considered a cosmetic procedure, the removal of “traumatic tattoos” is a reconstructive process. Traumatic tattoos occur when material particles are forced under the skin through an accident-as in an explosion or a collision.
The carbon dioxide laser, sometimes called the “workhorse” of lasers, is an invisible light absorbed by water, the primary component of human skin. When the beam is focused, it can cut tissue and seal blood vessels simultaneously. When defocused, it vaporizes. These characteristics make it the treatment of choice for removing warts and many types of skin growths.
The YAG laser has been shown to be effective in the surgery of various types of hemangiomas, which are skin growths with heavy concentrations of blood vessels. It delivers highly-focused energy and-unlike other lasers-its tip can be placed directly on the skin, mimicking a scalpel.
The argon laser is similar to the yellow pulsed-dye laser. The argon laser emits a blue-green light that is absorbed heavily by the color red. It is particularly effective in treating abnormalities that have a proliferation of blood vessels, such as blood blisters, “spider” blood vessels on the face, “strawberry” birthmarks, hemangiomas, and bulky vascular tumors.
The copper vapor laser is a newer type of laser that emits a yellowish light. Its uses include treating brown or red pigmented areas.
The number of laser treatments you’ll need depends largely upon the size and severity of the defect. A child with a large birthmark may need six to ten laser treatments to achieve satisfactory results. Only one treatment may be needed to remove some small spider veins on the face.
Lasers have a number of valuable uses, but a laser should not be viewed as a “magic wand” that improves the results of any type of surgery. For traditional kinds of surgery and most plastic surgery, the scalpel is still the proven instrument of choice.
Facial surgery is most often done to bring the face into balance by building up the chin, the cheeks, or the jaw.
A short incision under the chin or inside the mouth allows the surgeon to place a chin implant directyly on the bone.
Cheek implants are usually inserted through an incision in the mouth and placed directly on (or even below) the cheekbone. These implants can vary in size and shape.
Plastic surgeons use facial implants to improve and enhance facial contours. Frequently, these implants will help provide a more harmonious balance to your face and features so that you feel better about the way you look.
There are many implants available, manufactured from a variety of materials. They may help strengthen a jawline or bring the chin or cheekbones into balance with the rest of the face.
This brochure describes some of the facial implants currently available as well as the techniques for their use. It will familiarize you with these procedures but cannot provide all the details which may be relevant to your particular needs.
If you feel that one or more of the procedures described in this brochure may be of benefit, be sure to ask your plastic surgeon for more information.
Facial implants can enhance your appearance and bolster your self esteem. If you are looking for improvement, not perfection, in your appearance and are realistic in your expectations, you may find that a facial implant is the right choice for you.
Plastic surgeons will frequently use such implants to bring better balance to the features of a younger patient. For instance, a teenage girl may want her nose reshaped or her chin brought forward so that these traits are better proportioned. The more mature patient may choose to have an implant placed in conjunction with another cosmetic procedure. For example, during a facelift, a patient may wish to have implants placed over the cheekbones to help restore a more youthful appearance. Implants may also be selected to fill out a face that appears “sunken” or tired.
Facial implants can produce some remarkable changes. Problems rarely occur, but you need to be informed about such possibilities. This brochure will touch upon a few, but is not intended to provide a detailed or complete inventory of potential risks.
A facial implant can shift slightly out of alignment and a second operation my be necessary to replace it in its proper position. Infection can occur with any operation. If infection were to occur around a facial implant and did not clear up after treatment with antibiotics, the implant might have to be temporarily removed and replaced at a later time. Other, less-frequent risks may be associated with certain implants. Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon for a description of the risks associated with the procedure in which you are interested.
Some of the implant materials are made of a solid silicone. Currently, there is no scientific evidence that this is a harmful substance. Your plastic surgeon will be happy to discuss any current scientific findings concerning the type of implant you’re considering.
When you discuss your surgery with your plastic surgeon, be certain that you clearly express your expectations. Your plastic surgeon will help you determine what it is possible to achieve. It may be helpful to provide your surgeon with photos of people who have facial features similar to those you would like to have.
Be sure you understand the details of the proposed surgery, including the cost and what to expect during your recovery.
If the surgery will entail an incision inside your mouth, it is important that you inform your physician if you smoke or if you have any dental or gum problems. Your plastic surgeon will advise you on these matters.
In preparing for your surgery, be sure to find out if you’ll be able to drive home afterward or will require transportation. You should also ask if you’ll need to refrain from eating or drinking the night before your surgery, and if you should stop taking any medications, including aspirin and similar drugs. You may be instructed to take oral antibiotics both before and after the procedure to help guard against infection.
Your plastic surgeon will provide information about these important matters during your pre-operative consultation.
Your operation may take place in an office-based facility, a freestanding surgical center or a hospital outpatient facility. Sometimes, your plastic surgeon may require that you stay overnight. Your doctor will make such a recommendation based on your overall medical condition and whether another cosmetic procedure was performed simultaneously with the facial implant surgery.
In some cases, facial implant surgery may require only local anesthesia combined with a sedative. However, more frequently, a general anesthesia may be recommended.
Insertion of a chin implant may take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. During the procedure, the surgeon selects the proper size and shape implant to enhance your appearance and inserts it into a pocket over the front of the jawbone. The small incision to create the pocket and insert the implant is placed inside the mouth (along the lower lip) or in the skin just under the chin area.
Usually, the chin is taped after surgery to minimize swelling and discomfort. Sutures in the skin will be removed in five to seven days. If an intra-oral incision is used, the sutures will dissolve.
You will experience some discomfort and swelling in the affected area for several days. It’s normal to experience some temporary difficulty with smiling and talking. Black and blue marks may be visible around the chin and neck. Your plastic surgeon will instruct you about dental hygiene, eating and any restrictions to your activities after surgery.
Cheek implant surgery usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes. When cheek implants are being placed in conjunction with another cosmetic procedure, such as a facelift, forehead lift or eyelid surgery, the implants may be inserted through the incisions made for those procedures. Otherwise, an incision will be made either inside your upper lip or your lower eyelid. A pocket is then formed and an implant is inserted.
After surgery, a dressing will be applied to minimize discomfort and swelling. The severity and duration of such side effects may vary, especially if another cosmetic procedure was performed at the same time.
Your plastic surgeon will provide you with instructions about post-operative care. There will be dietary restrictions as well as limitations to your activities. Again, these instructions will vary, especially if another procedure was performed along with your implant surgery. However, you should be aware that your ability to move your mouth and lips may be diminished temporarily. Stitches used to close the incisions inside your mouth usually dissolve within about 10 days.
Insertion of a jaw implant usually takes about one to two hours. Internal incisions are made on either side of the lower lip to provide access for creating a pocket into which the lower-jaw implant can be inserted. Dissolving sutures are used to close the incisions.
Swelling is sometimes significant immediately following surgery, usually peaking 24 to 48 hours afterward. Although most of the significant swelling will subside over a period of several days, prolonged mild swelling may prevent your final facial contour from becoming apparent for several months.
During the healing phase, your activities and diet will be restricted. Your ability to smile, talk or move your mouth in any way may be limited for several days to weeks following surgery. Your plastic surgeon will instruct you about dental and oral hygiene during your recovery.
Remember, with any facial surgery, you may feel and look better in a short period of time. However, it may not be advisable to participate in certain activities — especially activity that may result in the face being jarred or bumped — for several weeks. It’s best to check with your plastic surgeon about such matters.
You may not be able to accurately evaluate your appearance for weeks, or perhaps even months. Give yourself plenty of time to get used to your new look.
You may be surprised to find that most people won’t recognize that you’ve had facial implant surgery — only that you look better.
A facelift can improve the deep cheek folds, jowls and loose, sagging skin around the neck that come with age.
Incisions usually begin above the hairline at the temples, follow the natural line in front of the ear, curve behind the earlobe into the crease behind the ear, and into or along the lower scalp.
Facial, neck tissue and muscle may be separated; fat may be trimmed or suctioned and underlying muscle may be tightened.
After deep tissues are tightened, the excess skin is pulled up and back, trimmed and surured into place.
Most of the scars will be hidden within your hair and in the normal creases of your skin.
After surgery, you’ll present a fresher, more youthful face to the world.
As people age, the effects of gravity, exposure to the sun, and the stresses of daily life can be seen in their faces. Deep creases form between the nose and mouth; the jawline grows slack and jowly; folds and fat deposits appear around the neck.
A facelift (technically known as rhytidectomy) can’t stop this aging process. What it can do is set back the clock, improving the most visible signs of aging by removing excess fat, tightening underlying muscles, and redraping the skin of your face and neck. A facelift can be done alone, or in conjunction with other procedures such as a forehead lift, eyelid surgery, or nose reshaping.
If you’re considering a facelift, this brochure will give you a basic understanding of the procedure when it can help, how it’s performed, and what results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on the individual patient and the surgeon. Please ask your surgeon about anything you don’t understand.
The best candidate for a facelift is a man or woman whose face and neck have begun to sag, but whose skin still has some elasticity and whose bone structure is strong and well-defined. Most patients are in their forties to sixties, but facelifts can be done successfully on people in their seventies or eighties as well.
A facelift can make you look younger and fresher, and it may enhance your self- confidence in the process. But it can’t give you a totally different look, nor can it restore the health and vitality of your youth. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.
When a facelift is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Still, individuals vary greatly in their anatomy, their physical reactions, and their healing abilities, and the outcome is never completely predictable.
Complications that can occur include hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin that must be removed by the surgeon), injury to the nerves that control facial muscles (usually temporary), infection, and reactions to the anesthesia. Poor healing of the skin is most likely to affect smokers.
You can reduce your risks by closely following your surgeon’s advice both before and after surgery.
Facelifts are very individualized procedures. In your initial consultation the surgeon will evaluate your face, including the skin and underlying bone, and discuss your goals for the surgery.
Your surgeon should check for medical conditions that could cause problems during or after surgery, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, blood clotting problems, or the tendency to form excessive scars. Be sure to tell your surgeon if you smoke or are taking any drugs or medications, especially aspirin or other drugs that affect clotting.
If you decide to have a facelift, your surgeon will explain the techniques and anesthesia he or she will use, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the risks and costs involved. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications. Carefully following these instructions will help your surgery go more smoothly. If you smoke, it’s especially important to stop at least a week or two before and after surgery; smoking inhibits blood flow to the skin, and can interfere with the healing of your incision areas.
If your hair is very short, you might want to let it grow out before surgery, so that it’s long enough to hide the scars while they heal.
Whether your facelift is being done on an outpatient or inpatient basis, you should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, and to help you out for a day or two if needed.
A facelift may be performed in a surgeon’s office-based facility, an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital. It’s usually done on an outpatient basis, but some surgeons may hospitalize patients for a day when using general anesthesia. Certain conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure should be monitored after surgery, and may also require a short inpatient stay.
Most facelifts are performed under local anesthesia, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You’ll be awake but relaxed, and your face will be insensitive to pain. (However, you may feel some tugging or occasional discomfort.)
Some surgeons prefer a general anesthesia. In that case, you’ll sleep through the operation.
A facelift usually takes several hours-or somewhat longer if you’re having more than one procedure done. For extensive procedures, some surgeons may schedule two separate sessions.
Every surgeon approaches the procedure in his or her own way. Some complete one side of the face at a time, and others move back and forth between the sides. The exact placement of incisions and the sequence of events depends on your facial structure and your surgeon’s technique.
Incisions usually begin above the hairline at the temples, extend in a natural line in front of the ear (or just inside the cartilage at the front of the ear), and continue behind the earlobe to the lower scalp. If the neck needs work, a small incision may also be made under the chin.
In general, the surgeon separates the skin from the fat and muscle below. Fat may be trimmed or suctioned from around the neck and chin to improve the contour. The surgeon then tightens the underlying muscle and membrane, pulls the skin back, and removes the excess. Stitches secure the layers of tissue and close the incisions; metal clips may be used on the scalp.
Following surgery, a small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin behind your ear to drain any blood that might collect there. The surgeon may also wrap your head loosely in bandages to minimize bruising and swelling.
There isn’t usually significant discomfort after surgery; if there is, it can be lessened with the pain medication prescribed by your surgeon. (Severe or persistent pain or a sudden swelling of your face should be reported to your surgeon immediately.) Some numbness of the skin is quite normal; it will disappear in a few weeks or months.
Your doctor may tell you to keep your head elevated and as still as possible for a couple of days after surgery, to keep the swelling down.
If you’ve had a drainage tube inserted, it will be removed one or two days after surgery. Bandages, when used, are usually removed after one to five days. Don’t be surprised at the pale, bruised, and puffy face you see. Just keep in mind that in a few weeks you’ll be looking normal.
Most of your stitches will be removed after about five days. Your scalp may take longer to heal, and the stitches or metal clips in your hairline could be left in a few days longer.
You should be up and about in a day or two, but plan on taking it easy for the first week after surgery. Be especially gentle with your face and hair, since your skin will be both tender and numb, and may not respond normally at first.
Your surgeon will give more specific guidelines for gradually resuming your normal activities. They’re likely to include these suggestions: Avoid strenuous activity, including sex and heavy housework, for at least two weeks (walking and mild stretching are fine); avoid alcohol, steam baths, and saunas for several months. Above all, get plenty of rest and allow your body to spend its energy on healing.
At the beginning, your face may look and feel rather strange. Your features may be distorted from the swelling, your facial movements may be slightly stiff and you’ll probably be self-conscious about your scars. Some bruising may persist for two or three weeks, and you may tire easily. It’s not surprising that some patients are disappointed and depressed at first.
By the third week, you’ll look and feel much better. Most patients are back at work about ten days to two weeks after surgery. If you need it, special camouflage makeup can mask most bruising that remains.
The chances are excellent that you’ll be happy with your facelift-especially if you realize that the results may not be immediately apparent. Even after the swelling and bruises are gone, the hair around your temples may be thin and your skin may feel dry and rough for several months. Men may find they have to shave in new places-behind the neck and ears-where areas of beard- growing skin have been repositioned.
You’ll have some scars from your facelift, but they’re usually hidden by your hair or in the natural creases of your face and ears. In any case, they’ll fade within time and should be scarcely visible.
Having a facelift doesn’t stop the clock. Your face will continue to age with time, and you may want to repeat the procedure one or more times-perhaps five or ten years down the line. But in another sense, the effects of even one facelift are lasting; years later, you’ll continue to look better than if you’d never had a facelift at all.
As people age, the eyelid skin stretches, muscles weaken, and fat accumulates around the eyes, causing “bags” above and below.
The surgeon closes the incisions with fine sutures, which will leave nearly invisible scars.
Before surgery, the surgeon marks the incision sites, following the natural lines and creases of the upper and lower eyelids.
Underlying fat, along with excess skin and muscle, can be removed during the operation.
In a transconjunctival blepharoplasty, a tiny incision is made inside the lower eyelid and fat is removed with fine forceps. No skin is removed, and the incision is closed with dissolving sutures.
After surgery, the upper eyelids no longer droop and the skin under the eyes is smooth and firm.
Eyelid surgery (technically called blepharoplasty) is a procedure to remove fat–usually along with excess skin and muscle from the upper and lower eyelids. Eyelid surgery can correct drooping upper lids and puffy bags below your eyes – features that make you look older and more tired than you feel, and may even interfere with your vision. However, it won’t remove crow’s feet or other wrinkles, eliminate dark circles under your eyes, or lift sagging eyebrows. While it can add an upper eyelid crease to Asian eyes, it will not erase evidence of your ethnic or racial heritage. Blepharoplasty can be done alone, or in conjunction with other facial surgery procedures such as a facelift or browlift.
If you’re considering eyelid surgery, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure-when it can help, how it’s performed, and what results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on the individual patient and the surgeon. Please ask your surgeon about anything you don’t understand.
Blepharoplasty can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.
The best candidates for eyelid surgery are men and women who are physically healthy, psychologically stable, and realistic in their expectations. Most are 35 or older, but if droopy, baggy eyelids run in your family, you may decide to have eyelid surgery at a younger age.
A few medical conditions make blepharoplasty more risky. They include thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism and Graves’ disease, dry eye or lack of sufficient tears, high blood pressure or other circulatory disorders, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. A detached retina or glaucoma is also reason for caution; check with your ophthalmologist before you have surgery.
When eyelid surgery is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Nevertheless, there is always a possibility of complications, including infection or a reaction to the anesthesia. You can reduce your risks by closely following your surgeon’s instructions both before and after surgery.
The minor complications that occasionally follow blepharoplasty include double or blurred vision for a few days; temporary swelling at the corner of the eyelids; and a slight asymmetry in healing or scarring. Tiny whiteheads may appear after your stitches are taken out; your surgeon can remove them easily with a very fine needle.
Following surgery, some patients may have difficulty closing their eyes when they sleep; in rare cases this condition may be permanent. Another very rare complication is ectropion, a pulling down of the lower lids. In this case, further surgery may be required.
The initial consultation with your surgeon is very important. The surgeon will need your complete medical history, so check your own records ahead of time and be ready to provide this information. Be sure to inform your surgeon if you have any allergies; if you’re taking any vitamins, medications (prescription or over-the-counter), or other drugs; and if you smoke.
In this consultation, your surgeon or a nurse will test your vision and assess your tear production. You should also provide any relevant information from your ophthalmologist or the record of your most recent eye exam. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure to bring them along.
You and your surgeon should carefully discuss your goals and expectations for this surgery. You’ll need to discuss whether to do all four eyelids or just the upper or lower ones, whether skin as well as fat will be removed, and whether any additional procedures are appropriate.
Your surgeon will explain the techniques and anesthesia he or she will use, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the risks and costs involved. (Note: Most insurance policies don’t cover eyelid surgery, unless you can prove that drooping upper lids interfere with your vision. Check with your insurer.)
Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications. Carefully following these instructions will help your surgery go more smoothly.
While you’re making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, and to help you out for a few days if needed.
Eyelid surgery may be performed in a surgeon’s office-based facility, an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital. It’s usually done on an outpatient basis; rarely does it require an inpatient stay.
Eyelid surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia–which numbs the area around your eyes–along with oral or intravenous sedatives. You’ll be awake during the surgery, but relaxed and insensitive to pain. (However, you may feel some tugging or occasional discomfort.) Some surgeons prefer to use general anesthesia; in that case, you’ll sleep through the operation.
Blepharoplasty usually takes one to three hours, depending on the extent of the surgery. If you’re having all four eyelids done, the surgeon will probably work on the upper lids first, then the lower ones.
In a typical procedure, the surgeon makes incisions following the natural lines of your eyelids; in the creases of your 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 your eyes. Working through these incisions, the surgeon separates the skin from underlying fatty tissue and muscle, removes excess fat, and often trims sagging skin and muscle. The incisions are then closed with very fine sutures.
If you have a pocket of fat beneath your lower eyelids but don’t need to have any skin removed, your surgeon may perform a transconjunctival blepharoplasty. In this procedure the incision is made inside your lower eyelid, leaving no visible scar. It is usually performed on younger patients with thicker, more elastic skin.
After surgery, the surgeon will probably lubricate your eyes with ointment and may apply a bandage. Your eyelids may feel tight and sore as the anesthesia wears off, but you can control any discomfort with the pain medication prescribed by your surgeon. If you feel any severe pain, call your surgeon immediately.
Your surgeon will instruct you to keep your head elevated for several days, and to use cold compresses to reduce swelling and bruising. (Bruising varies from person to person: it reaches its peak during the first week, and generally lasts anywhere from two weeks to a month.) You’ll be shown how to clean your eyes, which may be gummy for a week or so. Many doctors recommend eyedrops, since your eyelids may feel dry at first and your eyes may burn or itch. For the first few weeks you may also experience excessive tearing, sensitivity to light, and temporary changes in your eyesight, such as blurring or double vision.
Your surgeon will follow your progress very closely for the first week or two. The stitches will be removed two days to a week after surgery. Once they’re out, the swelling and discoloration around your eyes will gradually subside, and you’ll start to look and feel much better.
You should be able to read or watch television after two or three days. However, you won’t be able to wear contact lenses for about two weeks, and even then they may feel uncomfortable for a while.
Most people feel ready to go out in public (and back to work) in a week to 10 days. By then, depending on your rate of healing and your doctor’s instructions, you’ll probably be able to wear makeup to hide the bruising that remains. You may be sensitive to sunlight, wind, and other irritants for several weeks, so you should wear sunglasses and a special sunblock made for eyelids when you go out.
Your surgeon will probably tell you to keep your activities to a minimum for three to five days, and to avoid more strenuous activities for about three weeks. It’s especially important to avoid activities that raise your blood pressure, including bending, lifting, and rigorous sports. You may also be told to avoid alcohol, since it causes fluid retention.
Healing is a gradual process, and your scars may remain slightly pink for six months or more after surgery. Eventually, though, they’ll fade to a thin, nearly invisible white line.
On the other hand, the positive results of your eyelid surgery-the more alert and youthful look-will last for years. For many people, these results are permanent.
Endoscopy is a surgical technique that involves the use of an endoscope, a special viewing instrument that allows a surgeon to see images of the body’s internal structures through very small incisions.
Endoscopic surgery has been used for decades in a number of different procedures, including gallbladder removal, tubal ligation, and knee surgery. However, in the world of plastic surgery, endoscopic instruments have recently been introduced. Plastic surgeons believe the technique holds great promise, but further study is needed to establish its effectiveness, especially over the long-term. As important research continues, endoscopy is being used on a limited basis for both cosmetic and reconstructive procedures.
This brochure will give you a basic understanding of endoscopy in plastic surgery–how it’s performed, what risks are involved, and the type of surgical training to look for in a surgeon. Please ask your doctor if there is anything you don’t understand about the specific procedure you’re planning to have.
An endoscope consists of two basic parts: A tubular probe fitted with a tiny camera and bright light, which is inserted through a small incision; and a viewing screen, which magnifies the transmitted images of the body’s internal structures. During surgery, the surgeon watches the screen while moving the tube of the endoscope through the surgical area.
It’s important to understand that the endoscope functions as a viewing device only. To perform the surgery, a separate surgical instrument–such as a scalpel, scissors, or forceps–must be inserted through a different point of entry and manipulated within the tissue.
All surgery carries risks and every incision leaves a scar. However, with endoscopic surgery, your scars are likely to be hidden, much smaller and some of the after effects of surgery may be minimized.
In a typical endoscopic procedure, only a few small incisions, each less than one inch long, are needed to insert the endoscope probe and other instruments. For some procedures, such as breast augmentation, only two incisions may be necessary. For others, such as a forehead lift, three or more short incisions may be needed. The tiny eye of the endoscope’s camera allows a surgeon to view the surgical site almost clearly as if the skin were opened from a long incision.
Because the incisions are shorter with endoscopy, the risk of sensory loss from nerve damage is decreased. Also, bleeding, bruising and swelling may be significantly reduced. With the endoscopic approach, you may recover more quickly and return to work earlier than if you had undergone open surgery.
Endoscopic surgery may also allow you to avoid an overnight hospital stay. Many endoscopic procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia with sedation. Be sure to discuss this possibility with your doctor.
In endoscopic surgery, a probe with a tiny camera transmits images inside the body to a video monitor.
As research continues, it’s expected that many new uses for endoscopy will be developed. In the meantime, some plastic surgeons are using the technique on carefully selected patients. Some procedures that may be assisted by endoscopy are:
Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) — Endoscopy is sometimes used as an adjunct for selected patients who have lost abdominal muscle tone. Guided by the endoscope, the muscles that run vertically down the length of the abdomen may be tightened through several short incisions. Endoscopy is generally not used in patients who have a significant amount of loose abdominal skin.
Breast augmentation — Inserted through a small incision in the underarm or the navel, an endoscope can assist the surgeon in positioning breast implants within the chest wall. Endoscopy may also assist in the correction of capsular contracture (scar tissue that sometimes forms around an implant, causing it to feel firm), and in the evaluation of existing implants.
Facelift — Although the traditional facelift operation is still the best choice for most patients — especially those with a significant amount of excess skin — certain selected individuals may benefit from an endoscopically assisted procedure. When an endoscope is used, the customary incision along, or in the hairline is usually eliminated. Instead, small incisions may be strategically placed in areas where the most correction is needed. If the muscles and skin of the mid-face need to be smoothed and tightened, incisions may be hidden in the lower eyelid and in the upper gumline. To tighten the loose muscles of the neck, incisions may be concealed beneath the chin and behind the ears. The endoscope may also assist in the positioning of cheek and chin implants.
Forehead lift — Of all the cosmetic procedures that use endoscopy, forehead lift is the one which plastic surgeons more commonly perform. Instead of the usual ear-to-ear incision, three or more puncture-type incisions are made just at the hairline. The endoscope helps guide the surgeon, who removes the muscles that produce frown lines, and repositions the eyebrows at a higher level.
Flap surgery — Endoscopy can assist in repairing body parts that are damaged from injury or illness. Often, healthy tissue is borrowed from one part of the body to help repair another. Using an endoscope, the tissue or flaps can be removed from the donor site with only two or three small incisions.
Placement of tissue expanders — Used frequently in reconstructive surgery, tissue expanders are silicone balloons that are temporarily implanted to help stretch areas of healthy skin. The newly expanded skin is then used to cover body areas where skin has been lost due to injury (such as a burn) or disease. Using an endoscope, a surgeon can help ensure that a tissue expander is precisely positioned beneath the surface to bring the greatest benefit to the patient.
Sinus surgery — An endoscope can assist a surgeon in pinpointing and correcting sinus-drainage problems. It can also help locate nasal polyps (growths) or other problems within the sinus cavity, and assist in full rhino-septal surgery.
Carpal tunnel release — After the endoscope is inserted through a small incision in the wrist area, the surgeon locates the median nerve, which runs down the center of the wrist. A separate incision may be made in the palm to insert scissors or scalpel to cut the ligament putting pressure on the nerve.
Because endoscopy is a relatively new technique in plastic surgery, it’s extremely important that you select a board-certified plastic surgeon who has adequate training and experience.
Many endoscopic procedures do not require a hospital stay and are performed in a surgeon’s office or an out-patient surgery center. If you’re planning to have out-patient surgery, be sure that the surgeon you’ve selected has privileges to perform your particular endoscopic procedure at an accredited hospital. This assures you that your surgeon has been evaluated by the hospital’s quality-assurance review committee and is generally considered to have the needed training.
Be sure to find out if the surgeon’s hospital privileges cover both the endoscopic and the open version of the procedure you plan to have, since your doctor may have to switch to a traditional open procedure if a complication occurs during surgery.
Keep in mind that many plastic surgeons in practice today received endoscopy training as part of their plastic surgery or general surgery residency training. And, all board-certified plastic surgeons are continually being trained in new procedures.
It’s important to keep in mind that the endoscopic approach has only recently been applied to plastic surgery procedures. There are some known risks, which vary in severity depending on the procedure being performed. These include infection, fluid accumulation beneath the skin (which must be drained), blood vessel damage, nerve damage or loss of feeling, internal perforation injury, and skin injury.
And, keep in mind that if a complication occurs at any time during the operation your surgeon may have to switch to an open procedure, which will result in a more extensive scar and a longer recovery period. However, to date, such complications are rare–estimated to occur in less that 5 percent of all endoscopy procedures.
Although much is still unknown about endoscopic plastic surgery, you may want to focus on what is known as you make your decision. Considering the following:
For decades, endoscopy has been used successfully in orthopedic, urologic, and gynecologic procedures. Improved technology now permits endoscopy to be used by plastic surgeons.
If performed by an experienced, well-trained plastic surgeon, endoscopic procedures may provide the same results as open-method procedures, but with less scarring.
In some cases, endoscopic surgery may require less recovery time than is usually required for open procedures.
patients who tend to be the best candidates for cosmetic endoscopic procedures are those who don’t have large amounts of loose hanging skin. Patients with loose facial or abdominal skin may benefit from a combination of classic and endoscopic techniques, in face or forehead lift, or abdominoplasty.
Ears that appear to stick out or are overly large can be helped by ear surgery.
An incision is made in the back of the ear so cartilage can be sculpted or folded. Stitches are used to close the incision and help maintain the new shape.
Creating a fold in the cartilage makes the ear lie flatter against the head and appear more normal.
Ear surgery, or otoplasty, is usually done to set prominent ears back closer to the head or to reduce the size of large ears.
For the most part, the operation is done on children between the ages of four and 14. Ears are almost fully grown by age four, and the earlier the surgery, the less teasing and ridicule the child will have to endure. Ear surgery on adults is also possible, and there are generally no additional risks associated with ear surgery on an older patient.
If you’re considering ear surgery for yourself or your child, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure-when it can help, how it’s performed, and what results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please be sure to ask your doctor if there is anything you don’t understand about the procedure.
When ear surgery is performed by a qualified, experienced surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Nevertheless, as with any operation, there are risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure.
A small percentage of patients may develop a blood clot on the ear. It may dissolve naturally or can be drawn out with a needle.
Occasionally, patients develop an infection in the cartilage, which can cause scar tissue to form. Such infections are usually treated with antibiotics; rarely, surgery may be required to drain the infected area.
Most surgeons recommend that parents stay alert to their child’s feelings about protruding ears; don’t insist on the surgery until your child wants the change. Children who feel uncomfortable about their ears and want the surgery are generally more cooperative during the process and happier with the outcome.
In the initial meeting, your surgeon will evaluate your child’s condition, or yours if you are considering surgery for yourself, and recommend the most effective technique. He or she will also give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery.
Ear surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure in a hospital, a doctor’s office-based surgical facility, or a freestanding surgery center. Occasionally, your doctor may recommend that the procedure be done as an inpatient procedure, in which case you can plan on staying overnight in the hospital.
If your child is young, your surgeon may recommend general anesthesia, so the child will sleep through the operation. For older children or adults, the surgeon may prefer to use local anesthesia, combined with a sedative, so you or your child will be awake but relaxed.
Ear surgery usually takes about two to three hours, although complicated procedures may take longer. The technique will depend on the problem.
With one of the more common techniques, the surgeon makes a small incision in the back of the ear to expose the ear cartilage. He or she will then sculpt the cartilage and bend it back toward the head. Non-removable stitches may be used to help maintain the new shape. Occasionally, the surgeon will remove a larger piece of cartilage to provide a more natural-looking fold when the surgery is complete.
Another technique involves a similar incision in the back of the ear. Skin is removed and stitches are used to fold the cartilage back on itself to reshape the ear without removing cartilage.
In most cases, ear surgery will leave a faint scar in the back of the ear that will fade with time. Even when only one ear appears to protrude, surgery is usually performed on both ears for a better balance.
Adults and children are usually up and around within a few hours of surgery, although you may prefer to stay overnight in the hospital with a child until all the effects of general anesthesia wear off.
The patient’s head will be wrapped in a bulky bandage immediately following surgery to promote the best molding and healing. The ears may throb or ache a little for a few days, but this can be relieved by medication.
Within a few days, the bulky bandages will be replaced by a lighter head dressing similar to a headband. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s directions for wearing this dressing, especially at night.
Stitches are usually removed, or will dissolve, in about a week.
Any activity in which the ear might be bent should be avoided for a month or so. Most adults can go back to work about five days after surgery. Children can go back to school after seven days or so, if they’re careful about playground activity. You may want to ask your child’s teacher to keep an eye on the child for a few weeks.
Besides protruding ears, there are a variety of other ear problems that can be helped with surgery. These include: lop ear, when the tip seems to fold down and forward; cupped ear, which is usually a very small ear; and shell ear, when the curve in the outer rim, as well as the natural folds and creases, are missing. Surgery can also improve large or stretched earlobes, or lobes with large creases and wrinkles. Surgeons can even build new ears for those who were born without them or who lost them through injury.
Sometimes, however, the correction can leave a scar that’s worse than the original problem. Ask your surgeon about the effectiveness of surgery for your specific case.
Most patients, young and old alike, are thrilled with the results of ear surgery. But keep in mind, the goal is improvement, not perfection. Don’t expect both ears to match perfectly-perfect symmetry is both unlikely and unnatural in ears. If you’ve discussed the procedure and your expectations with the surgeon before the operation, chances are, you’ll be quite pleased with the result.
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning can smooth scars left by acne, accidents, or previous surgery, as well as fine facial wrinkles, especially those around the mouth.
In dermabrasion, the surgeon scrapes away the top layers of skin using an electrically operated instrument with a rough wire brush or diamond-impregnated burr.
This cross section shows how dermabrasion smooths irregularities in the outermost layer of skin.
Dermaplaning uses a dermatone to skim off surface layers of skin that surround facial defects.
Several months after your procedure, pigmentation returns and the skin is much smoother than before.
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning help to refinish the skin’s top layers through a method of controlled surgical scraping. The treatments soften the sharp edges of surface irregularities, giving the skin a smoother appearance.
Dermabrasion is most often used to improve the look of facial skin left scarred by accidents or previous surgery, or to smooth out fine facial wrinkles, such as those around the mouth. It’s also sometimes used to remove the pre-cancerous growths called keratoses. Dermaplaning is commonly used to treat deep acne scars.
Both dermabrasion and dermaplaning can be performed on small areas of skin or on the entire face. They can be used alone, or in conjunction with other procedures such as facelift, scar removal or revision, or chemical peel.
If you’re considering surgery to refinish the skin, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure-when it can help, how it’s performed, and what results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please ask your doctor about anything you don’t understand.
If you’re planning surface repairs on your face, you may also be considering chemical peel, an alternative method of surgically removing the top layer of skin. However, dermabrasion and dermaplaning use surgical instruments to remove the affected skin layers, while chemical peel uses a caustic solution.
Many plastic surgeons perform all three procedures, selecting one or a combination of procedures to suit the individual patient and the problem. Others prefer one technique for all surface repairs. In general, chemical peel is used more often to treat fine wrinkles, and dermabrasion and dermaplaning for deeper imperfections such as acne scars. A non-chemical approach may also be preferred for individuals with slightly darker skin, especially when treating limited areas of the face, since dermabrasion and dermaplaning are less likely to produce extreme changes and contrasts in skin color.
If you’d like more information on chemical peel, ask your plastic surgeon for the ASPS brochure on that topic.
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but neither treatment will remove all scars and flaws or prevent aging. Before you decide to have a skin-refinishing treatment, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.
Men and women of all ages, from young people to older adults, can benefit from dermabrasion and dermaplaning. Although older people heal more slowly, more important factors are your skin type, coloring, and medical history. For example, black skin, Asian skin, and other dark complexions may become permanently discolored or blotchy after a skin-refinishing treatment. People who develop allergic rashes or other skin reactions, or who get frequent fever blisters or cold sores, may experience a flare-up. If you have freckles, they may disappear in the treated area.
In addition, most surgeons won’t perform treatment during the active stages of acne because of a greater risk of infection. The same may be true if you’ve had radiation treatments, a bad skin burn, or a previous chemical peel.
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning are normally safe when they’re performed by a qualified, experienced board-certified physician. The most common risk is a change in skin pigmentation. Permanent darkening of the skin, usually caused by exposure to the sun in the days or months following surgery, may occur in some patients. On the other hand, some patients find the treated skin remains a little lighter or blotchy in appearance.
You may develop tiny whiteheads after surgery. These usually disappear on their own, or with the use of an abrasive pad or soap; occasionally, the surgeon may have to remove them. You may also develop enlarged skin pores; these usually shrink to near normal size once the swelling has subsided.
While infection and scarring are rare with skin-refinishing treatments, they are possible. Some individuals develop excessive scar tissue (keloid or hypertrophic scars); these are usually treated with the application or injection of steroid medications to soften the scar.
You can reduce your risks by choosing a qualified plastic surgeon and closely following his or her advice.
Because these treatments have sometimes been offered by inadequately trained practitioners, it’s especially important that you find a doctor (generally a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist) who is trained and experienced in the procedure. After all, dermabrasion and dermaplaning usually involve the most visible part of your body-your face.
In your initial consultation, be open in discussing your expectations with your surgeon, and don’t hesitate to ask any questions or express any concerns you may have. Your surgeon should be equally open with you, explaining the factors that could influence the procedure and the results-such as your age, skin condition, and previous plastic surgeries.
The surgeon will discuss your medical history, conduct a routine examination, and photograph your face. He or she should explain the procedure in detail, along with its risks and benefits, the recovery period, and the costs. Insurance usually doesn’t cover cosmetic procedures, however, it may cover dermabrasion or dermaplaning when performed to remove precancerous skin growths or extensive scars. Check your policy or call your carrier to be sure.
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, and on avoiding aspirin and other medications that affect blood clotting. You may also be given special instructions regarding the care and treatment of your skin prior to surgery. If you smoke, you’ll probably be asked to stop for a week or two before and after surgery, since smoking decreases blood circulation in the skin and impedes healing.
While you’re making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, and to help you out for a day or two if needed.
Your treatment may be performed in a surgeon’s office-based facility, an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital. It’s usually done on an outpatient basis, for cost containment and convenience. However, if you’re undergoing extensive work, you may be admitted to the hospital.
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning may be performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the area, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You’ll be awake but relaxed, and will feel minimal discomfort. Sometimes a numbing spray, such a freon, is used along with or instead of local anesthesia. Or, in more severe cases, your surgeon may prefer to use general anesthesia, in which case you’ll sleep through the procedure.
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning can be performed fairly quickly. The procedures usually take from a few minutes to an hour and a half, depending on how large an area of skin is involved. It’s not uncommon for the procedure to be performed more than once, or in stages, especially when scarring is deep or a large area of skin is involved.
In dermabrasion, the surgeon scrapes away the outermost layer of skin with a rough wire brush, or a burr containing diamond particles, attached to a motorized handle. The scraping continues until the surgeon reaches the safest level that will make the scar or wrinkle less visible.
In dermaplaning, the surgeon uses a hand-held instrument called a dermatome. Resembling an electric razor, the dermatome has an oscillating blade that moves back and forth to evenly skim off the surface layers of skin that surround the craters or other facial defects. This skimming continues until the lowest point of the acne scar becomes more even with the surrounding skin.
The surgeon may then treat the skin in a number of ways, including ointment, a wet or waxy dressing, dry treatment, or some combination of these.
Right after the procedure, your skin will be quite red and swollen, and eating and talking may be difficult. You’ll probably feel some tingling, burning, or aching; any pain you feel can be controlled with medications prescribed by your surgeon. The swelling will begin to subside in a few days to a week.
If you remember the scrapes you got when you fell down as a child, you’ll have an idea of what to expect from this type of surgery. A scab or crust will form over the treated area as it begins to heal. This will fall off as a new layer of tight, pink skin forms underneath. Your face may itch as new skin starts to grow, and your surgeon may recommend an ointment to make you more comfortable. If ointment is applied immediately after surgery, little or no scab will form.
In any case, you surgeon will give you detailed instructions to care for your skin after surgery. For men, this will include delaying shaving for a while, then using an electric razor at first. It’s very important that you understand your doctor’s instructions and follow them exactly, to ensure the best possible healing.
If you notice the treated area beginning to get worse instead of better-for example, if it becomes increasingly red, raised, and itchy after it has started to heal-it may be a sign that abnormal scars are beginning to form. Call your surgeon as soon as possible, so that treatment can begin early.
Your new skin will be a bit swollen, sensitive, and bright pink for several weeks. During this time, you can begin gradually resuming your normal activities.
You can expect to be back at work in about two weeks. Your surgeon will probably advise your to avoid any activity that could cause a bump to your face for at least two weeks. More active sports-especially ball sports-should be avoided for four to six weeks. If you swim, stick to indoor pools to avoid sun and wind, and keep your face out of chlorinated water for at least four weeks. It will be at least three to four weeks before you can drink alcohol without experiencing a flush of redness.
Above all, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun until the pigment has completely returned to your skin- as long as six to twelve months.
Refinishing treatments can offer dramatic improvements in the surface of your skin, but it will take some time before you see the final results.
The pinkness of your skin will take about three months to fade. In the meantime, you’ll probably want to wear non-allergenic makeup when you go out. (For tips on hiding your condition while it heals, ask your surgeon for the ASPS brochure on camouflage cosmetics.) When your new skin is fully repigmented, the color should closely match the surrounding skin, making the procedure virtually undetectable.
This page offers a general overview of cosmetic surgery procedures. For more in-depth information on these procedures, please follow the links in the left column.
While this section explores cosmetic surgical offerings, many of these procedures may also fulfill true medical needs. You should understand that the circumstances and experience of every individual will be unique.
|Procedure:||Flatten abdomen by removing excess fat and skin and tightening muscles of abdominal wall.|
|Length:||2 to 5 hours.|
|Anesthesia:||General, or local with sedation.|
|In/Outpatient:||Either depending on individual circumstances and extent of surgery.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary pain. Swelling, soreness, numbness of abdominal skin, bruising, tiredness for several weeks or months.|
|Risks:||Blood clots. Infection. Bleeding under the skin flap. Poor healing resulting in conspicuous scarring or skin loss. Need for a second operation.|
|Recovery:||Back to work: 2 to 4 weeks. More strenuous activity: 4 to 6 weeks or more. Fading and flattening of scars: 3 months to 2 years.|
|Procedure:||Enhance the size of breasts using inflatable implants filled with saline.|
|Length:||1 to 2 hours.|
|Anesthesia:||Local with sedation, or general.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary soreness, swelling, change in nipple sensation, bruising. Breast sensitive to stimulation for a few weeks.|
|Risks:||Lack of implant permanence — surgical removal or replacement of the implants may be required to treat problems, including: deflation; the formation of scar tissue around the implant (capsular contracture), which may cause the breast to feel tight or hard; bleeding or infection. Increase or decrease in sensitivity of nipples or breast skin, occasionally permanent. Mammography requires a special technique. (Note: Some women have reported symptoms similar to those of immune disorders. Ask your doctor about these and other FDA concerns.)|
|Recovery:||Back to work: a few days. Physical contact with breasts: 3 to 4 weeks. Fading of scars: several months to a year or more.|
|Variable. Implants may require removal or replacement.|
|Procedure:||Raise and reshape sagging breasts by removing excess skin and repositioning remaining tissue and nipples.|
|Length:||1 to 3 hours.|
|Anesthesia:||Local with sedation, or general.|
|In/Outpatient:||Usually outpatient. Sometimes inpatient.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary bruising, swelling, discomfort, numbness, dry breast skin. Permanent scars.|
|Risks:||Thick, wide scars; skin loss; infection. Unevenly positioned nipples. Permanent loss of feeling in nipples or breast.|
|Recovery:||Back to work: 1 week or more. Strenuous activities: 1 month. Fading of scars: several months to a year.|
|Variable; gravity, pregnancy, aging, and weight changes may cause new sagging. Results may last longer or be enhanced when breast implants are inserted as part of the procedure.|
|Procedure:||Restore wrinkled, blemished, unevenly pigmented, or sun-damaged facial skin, using a chemical solution to peel away skin’s top layers. Works best on fair, thin skin with superficial wrinkles.|
|Length:||1 to 2 hours for full face.|
|Anesthesia:||None; sedation & EKG monitoring may be used.|
|In/Outpatient:||Usually outpatient. Full-face phenol peel may require admission for 1 to 2 days.|
|Side Effects:||Both: Temporary throbbing, tingling, swelling, redness; acute sensitivity to sun. Phenol: Permanent lightening of treated skin; permanent loss of ability to tan.|
|Risks:||Both: Tiny whiteheads (temporary); infection; scarring; flare-up of skin allergies, fever blisters, cold sores. Phenol: Abnormal color changes (permanent); heart irregularities (rare).|
|Recovery:||Phenol: Formation of new skin: 7 to 21 days. Normal activities: 2 to 4 weeks. Full healing and fading of redness: 3 to 6 months TCA: New skin within 5 to 10 days.|
|Phenol: permanent, although new wrinkles may form as skin ages. TCA: variable (temporary).|
|Procedure:||Plump up creased, furrowed, or sunken facial skin; add fullness to lips and backs of hands. Works best on thin, dry, light-colored skin.|
|Length:||15 minutes to 1 hour per session.|
|Anesthesia:||Collagen: usually none; local may be included with the injection. Fat: local.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary stinging, throbbing, or burning sensation. Faint redness, swelling, excess fullness.|
|Risks:||Collagen: allergic reaction including rash, hives, swelling, or flu-like symptoms; possible triggering of connective-tissue or autoimmune diseases. (A skin test is required before collagen treatment to determine whether an allergy exists.) Both: Contour irregularities, infection.|
|Variable; a few months to 1 year.|
|Procedure:||Mechanical scraping of the top layers of skin using a high-speed rotary wheel. Softens sharp edges of surface irregularities, including acne and other scars and fine wrinkles, especially around the mouth.|
|Length:||A few minutes to 1 hour. May require more than 1 session.|
|Anesthesia:||Local, numbing spray, or general.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary tingling, burning, itching, swelling, redness. Lightening of treated skin. Acute sensitivity to sun; loss of ability to make pigment (tan).|
|Risks:||Abnormal color changes (permanent). Tiny whiteheads (temporary); infection; scarring; flare-up of skin allergies, fever blisters, cold sores.|
|Recovery:||Back to work: 2 weeks. More strenuous activities: 4 to 6 weeks. Fading of redness: about 3 months. Return of pigmentation/sun exposure: 6 to 12 months.|
|Permanent, although new wrinkles may form as skin ages.|
|Procedure:||Set prominent ears back closer to the head, or reduce the size of large ears. Most often done on children between the ages of 4 and 14 years. (Occasionally covered by insurance.)|
|Length:||2 to 3 hours.|
|Anesthesia:||Young children: usually general. Older children or adults: general or local, with sedation.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary throbbing, aching, swelling, redness, numbness.|
|Risks:||Infection of cartilage. Excessive scarring. Blood clot that may need to be drained. Mismatched or artificial- looking ears. Recurrence of the protrusion, requiring repeat surgery.|
|Recovery:||Back to work or school: 5 to 7 days.
Strenuous activity, contact sports: 1 to 2 months.
|Procedure:||Correct drooping upper eyelids and puffy bags below the eyes by removing excess fat, skin, and muscle. (Upper-eyelid surgery may be covered by insurance if used to correct visual field defects)|
|Length:||1 to 3 hours.|
|Anesthesia:||Usually locally with sedation or general.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary discomfort, tightness of lids, swelling, bruising. Temporary dryness, burning, itching of eyes. Excessive tearing, sensitivity to light for first few weeks.|
|Risks:||Temporary blurred or double vision. Infection, bleeding. Swelling at the corners of the eyelids. Dry eyes. Formation of whiteheads. Slight asymmetry in healing or scarring. Difficulty in closing eyes completely (rarely permanent). Pulling down of the lower lids (may require further surgery). Blindness (extremely rare).|
|Recovery:||Reading: 2 or 3 days. Back to work: 7 to 10 days. Contact lenses: two weeks or more. Strenuous activities, alcohol: about 3 weeks. Bruising and swelling gone: several weeks.|
|Several years. Sometimes permanent.|
|Procedure:||Improving sagging facial skin, jowls, and loose neck skin by removing excess fat, tightening muscles, redraping skin. Most often done on men and women over 40.|
|Anesthesia:||Local with sedation, or general.|
|In/Outpatient:||Usually outpatient. Some patients may require short inpatient stay.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary bruising, swelling, numbness and tenderness of skin; tight feeling, dry skin. For men, permanent need to shave behind ears, where beard-growing skin is repositioned.|
|Risks:||Injury to the nerves that control facial muscles or feeling (usually temporary but may be permanent). Infection, bleeding. Poor healing; excessive scarring. Asymmetry or change in hairline.|
|Recovery:||Back to work: 10 to 14 days. More strenuous activity: 2 weeks or more. Bruising: 2 to 3 weeks. Must limit exposure to sun for several months.|
|Usually 5 to 10 years.|
|Procedure:||Change the basic shape and balance of the face using carefully shaped implants to build up a receding chin, add prominence to cheekbones, or reshape the jawline.|
|Length:||30 minutes to 2 hours.|
|Anesthesia:||Local with sedation, or general.|
|In/Outpatient:||Usually outpatient. Occasionally overnight hospital stay.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary discomfort, swelling, bruising, numbness and/or stiffness. In jaw surgery, inability to open mouth fully for several weeks.|
|Risks:||Shifting or imprecise positioning of implant, or infection around it, requiring a second operation or removal. Excess tightening and hardening of scar tissue around an artificial implant (“capsular contracture”), causing unnatural shape.|
|Recovery:||Back to work: about 1 week. Normal appearance: 2 to 4 weeks. Activity that could jar or bump face: 6 weeks or more.|
|Procedure:||Minimize forehead creases, drooping eyebrows, hooding over eyes, furrowed forehead and frown lines by removing excess tissue, altering muscles and tightening the forehead skin. May be done using the traditional technique, with an incision across the top of the head just behind the hairline; or with the use of an endoscope, which requires 3 to 5 short incisions. Most often done on people over 40.|
|Length:||1 to 2 hours.|
|Anesthesia:||Local with sedation, or general.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary swelling, numbness, headaches, bruising. Traditional method: Possible itching and hair loss.|
|Risks:||Injury to facial nerve, causing loss of motion, muscle weakness, or asymmetrical look. Infection. Broad or excessive scarring.|
|Recovery:||Back to work: 7 to 10 days, usually sooner for endoscopic forehead lift. More strenuous activity: several weeks. Full recovery from bruising: 2 to 3 weeks. Limit sun exposure for several months.|
|Usually 5 to 10 years.|
|Procedure:||Fill in balding areas with a patient’s own hair using a variety of techniques including scalp reduction, tissue expansion, strip grafts, scalp flaps, or clusters of punch grafts (plugs, miniplugs and microplugs). Works best on men with male pattern baldness after hair loss has stopped.|
|Length:||1 to 3 hours. Some techniques may require multiple procedures over 18 months or more.|
|Anesthesia:||Usually local with sedation. Flaps and tissue expansion may be done with general anesthesia.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary achy, tight scalp. Unnatural look in early stages.|
|Risks:||Unnatural look. Infection. Excessive scarring. Failure to “take.” Loss of scalp tissue and/or transplanted hair.|
|Recovery:||Back to work: usually 2 to 5 days. More strenuous activities: 10 days to 3 weeks. Final look: may be 18 months or more, depending on procedure.|
|Procedure:||Smooth the face and smooth fine wrinkles using a carbon dioxide (CO
) laser device that treats layers of damaged skin. Softens lines around the eyes and mouth and minimizes facial scars and unevenly pigmented areas.
|Length:||A few minutes to 1 hour. May require more than 1 session.|
|Anesthesia:||Local with sedation, or general.|
|In/Outpatient:||Usually outpatient, unless combined with other surgical procedures that require hospitalization.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary swelling, discomfort. Lightening of treated skin. Acute sun sensitivity. Increased sensitivity to makeup. Pinkness or redness in skin that may persist for up to 6 months.|
|Risks:||Burns or injuries caused by laser heat. Scarring. Abnormal changes in skin color. Flare-up of viral infections (“cold sores”) and other infections (rare).|
|Recovery:||Back to work: 2 weeks. More strenuous activities: 4-6 weeks. Complete fading of redness: 6 months or less. Return of pigmentation/light sun exposure: 6-12 months.|
|Long-lasting, but does not stop aging. New wrinkles, expression lines may form as skin ages.|
|Procedure:||Improve body shape by removing exercise-resistant fat deposits with a tube and vacuum device. Can be performed using the tumescent technique, in which targeted fat cells are infused with saline containing solution with a local anesthetic before liposuction to reduce post-operative bruising and swelling. Common locations for liposuction include chin, cheeks, neck, upper arms, above breasts, abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves, ankles.
For larger volumes of fat or for fibrous body areas, ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty (UAL) may be used. UAL is a new technique in which a ultrasound probe is inserted beneath the skin to “liquify” the fat before it is suctioned.
|Length:||1 to 2 hours or more. UAL: 20-40 percent longer than traditional liposuction.|
|Anesthesia:||Local, epidural, or general.|
|In/Outpatient:||Usually outpatient. Extensive procedures may require short inpatient stay.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary bruising, swelling, numbness, soreness, burning sensation. Tumescent: Temporary fluid drainage from incision sites. UAL: Larger incisions for cannula.|
|Risks:||Asymmetry. Rippling or bagginess of skin. Pigmentation changes. Skin injury. Fluid retention. Excessive fluid loss leading to shock. Infection. UAL: thermal burn injury caused by the heat from the ultrasound device.|
|Recovery:||Back to work: 1 to 2 weeks. More strenuous activity: 2 to 4 weeks. Full recovery from swelling and bruising: 1 to 6 months or more. Use of tumescent technique or UAL may decrease post-operative bruising and swelling.|
|Permanent, with sensible diet and exercise.|
|Procedure:||Reduce enlarged, female-like breast in men using liposuction and/or cutting out excess glandular tissue. (Sometimes covered by medical insurance.)|
|Length:||1 hour or more.|
|Anesthesia:||General or local.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary bruising, swelling, numbness, soreness, burning sensation.|
|Risks:||Infection. Fluid accumulation. Injury to the skin. Rippling or bagginess of skin. Asymmetry. Pigmentation changes (may become permanent if exposed to sun). Excessive scarring if tissue was cut away. Need for second procedure to remove additional tissue.|
|Recovery:||Back to work: 3 to 7 days. More strenuous activity: 2 to 3 weeks. Swelling and bruising: 3 to 6 months.|
|Procedure:||Reshape nose by reducing or increasing size, removing hump, changing shape of tip or bridge, narrowing span of nostrils, or changing angle between nose and upper lip. May also relieve some breathing problems. (May be covered by insurance.)|
|Length:||1 to 2 hours or more.|
|Anesthesia:||Local with sedation, or general.|
|Side Effects:||Temporary swelling, bruising around eyes, nose and headaches. Some bleeding and stiffness.|
|Risks:||Infection. Small burst blood vessels resulting in tiny, permanent red spots. Incomplete improvement, requiring additional surgery.|
|Recovery:||Back to work: 1 to 2 weeks. More strenuous activities: 2 to 3 weeks. Avoid hitting nose or sunburn: 8 weeks. Final appearance: 1 year or more.|