Plastic surgery - types, tips and everything you need to know
At this point, we all have a pretty good idea of what plastic surgery is – or at least, we think we do.
The reality is plastic surgery is a catch-all term used to describe hundreds of surgical procedures, from reconstructions after an accident to cosmetic boosts to your body confidence.
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What is plastic surgery?
Plastic surgery can make a body part look and work (within limits) how it did before an accident or illness or change it aesthetically to look more as you might like.
Depending on the procedure, it can be performed by a clinician, aesthetic doctor, surgeon, or even a dermatologist.
Types of plastic surgery
Common plastic surgery procedures that are reconstructive include:
Skin grafts: When surgeons take healthy skin from another part of your body and use it to cover lost or damaged skin.
Tissue expansion: If you have an area of damaged skin, surgeons can use a balloon expander inserted beneath nearby healthy skin to help stretch and grow that skin over the damaged area.
Fat transfer: If you’ve been left with an uneven distribution of fat, for example after illness, surgeons can remove excess fat from elsewhere in the body to transfer.
Types of cosmetic surgery
With cosmetic treatments, there are a whole range of different procedures people can have done to help them feel happier, healthier, and more confident. Some of the most common include:
- Liposuction: Invasive fat-removal treatment that’s carried out by a cosmetic surgeon. During the liposuction treatment a vacuum sucks stubborn pockets of fat from hard-to-shift areas, such as the hips, buttocks, or thighs.
- Rhinoplasty: The technical term for a ‘nose job’ or nose-reshaping treatment. Working with your cartilage and bone, a cosmetic surgeon can change the shape or size of your nose.
- Eyelid surgery: If you have hooded eyelids or bags under your eyes, eyelid surgery (medically known as blepharoplasty) can make them less noticeable. It involves an incision into your eyelids to remove excess skin or fat.
Plastic surgery risks
All types of plastic surgery come with some risks. And because this is such a broad area, it’s difficult to be specific about the associated risks and side-effects for each treatment.
That said, there are a few general things to consider, including bruising and scarring, and in some cases, infection.
Choose your doctor carefully. Do your research and check they have the right qualifications and are on the relevant professional registers. Always have a consultation to discuss the desired results you’re hoping for before you have a treatment.
Does plastic surgery hurt?
No matter what type of surgery you’ve had, you can expect to experience some discomfort afterwards. For most types of plastic surgery, you’ll be under general or local anaesthetic. So regardless of what’s going on during the surgery you won’t feel it.
But afterwards, you’ll need to book some time off work to recover. You may also need to take painkillers to manage initial pain and require some help with driving and around the house until your body starts to heal.
What are the side-effects?
Each procedure will come with its own individual set of side effects but common things to look out for include:
- Feeling tired and needing to rest and recover.
- Restrictions to movement in affected areas.
- Bruising and swelling in affected areas.
- Having to take time off work.
Who is most suitable for plastic surgery?
It all depends on your situation. If you’re in an accident you may need to have reconstructive surgery. If you decide to have cosmetic surgery, it’s important you take the time you need to understand whether it’s right for you.
Remember, the better your overall health, the easier surgery will be to have and to recover from. If you smoke, it’s advised to quit around six weeks before your procedure to give your body the best chance of healing quickly.
There are many non-invasive treatments to consider as alternatives if you don’t want to have surgery. For example, Botox and fillers can be used to smooth lines and contour your face shape by reducing wrinkles and enhancing the shape of your lips, jaw line or cheeks.
Or when it comes to fat removal, cavitation is a non-surgical treatment, as is CoolSculpting, where fat cells are frozen then dispelled from your body naturally over time. These are both popular and effective, as well as being less expensive with much less downtime than liposuction.
Plastic surgery facts
- Plastic surgery goes back to ancient Egypt. 3,000 years ago, Egyptian priest-doctors were recording experiences of ‘breaking and reshaping the nose’ of Pharaohs in their medical records.
- By the Middle Ages, nose jobs were being performed using straps of leather cut to a nose shape, which were then used to cut patches of skin from the patient’s arm. The work was pioneered in the 1400s by Italian surgeon Antonio Branca.
- Details of the first skin graft, using a technique that removed skin from the forehead, were published in a magazine called The Gentleman’s Magazine of Calcutta in 1794.
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