Types of Plastic Surgery – Overview
There are hundreds of different cosmetic surgery procedures available to patients today. Some are invasive, while others require no cutting of the skin.
Generally speaking, a cosmetic surgeon specializes in 1 of 2 types of procedures: invasive procedures (which include all forms of surgery) and non-invasive procedures (which don’t involve any type of surgery).
Here is a list of some popular cosmetic surgery procedures:
1. Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)
A tummy tuck, also called abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic operation to make the abdomen more firm.
The surgery involves the removal of excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen in order to tighten the muscle and fascia of the abdominal wall.
This type of surgery is usually sought by patients with loose or sagging tissues after pregnancy or major weight loss. Tummy tucks are usually combined with liposuction procedures.
Prior to surgery, your surgeon will assess your medical history and conduct a physical exam to determine whether you are healthy enough for surgery and if you have realistic expectations of the results.
The operation can be performed under general anesthesia or intravenous sedation with local anesthesia. Incisions are made near the pubic area.
In partial abdominoplasty, incisions may extend beyond the hipbones, but in full abdominoplasty, incisions may also be made around the navel.
The skin is then separated from the abdominal wall up to your ribs. Your surgeon will repair weakened muscles and remove excess fat tissue as well as some skin from your abdomen.
A new hole for your belly button will be cut and stitched into place before closing up the incision with sutures or surgical staples.
2. Brachioplasty (Arm Lift)
Brachioplasty, more commonly known as an arm lift, reshapes the upper arm to reduce the appearance of loose skin and fat.
Many people who seek an arm lift are those who have lost a significant amount of weight or have found that their upper arms have sagged with age or other factors.
An arm lift is typically conducted under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure, although it can be performed under local anesthesia with sedation if desired.
The surgery begins with a horizontal incision on the inside of the upper arm. The incision may continue all the way around the arm to the armpit area.
Excess fat and skin are removed and the remaining tissue is brought together, resulting in a tighter, smoother appearance.
3. Blepharoplasty (Eyelid Surgery)
Eyelid surgery removes excess fat, skin, and muscle from the upper and lower eyelids.
Blepharoplasty 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.
Blepharoplasty can be done alone, or in conjunction with other facial surgery procedures such as a facelift or brow lift.
In a typical blepharoplasty procedure, an incision is made following the natural line of the eyelid; in the upper lid, this incision may extend into the crow’s feet or laugh lines at the outer corners of your eyes.
Through this incision, excess fat is removed, along with excess skin and muscle if needed. The incisions are then closed with very fine sutures.
If baggy lower eyelids aren’t caused by excess skin but instead by bulging fat pads under your eyes, an incision is made on the inside of your lower eyelid to remove the protruding fat pads.
This type of procedure is called transconjunctival blepharoplasty.
4. Breast Augmentation
Breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure in the United States, with more than 290,000 procedures performed in 2012.
Women choose breast implants to correct for insufficient breast tissue or unevenness between breasts. Implants can also be used for reconstruction after cancer surgery.
The most common type of breast implant is one that’s filled with saline solution, but silicone gel implants are also available. Breast implants come in different sizes and shapes.
These choices will be discussed with you during your consultation with your plastic surgeon.
5. Breast Implant Removal
Breast implant removal is performed by a plastic surgeon and may be done under local or general anesthesia.
It’s usually an outpatient procedure, meaning you won’t have to stay in the hospital overnight.
Breast implant removal can be performed as a stand-alone surgical procedure or in conjunction with breast lift surgery or breast reduction surgery.
Removing implants while preserving some skin and breast tissue allows for more natural-looking breasts.
If you’re considering this option, your plastic surgeon will discuss the pros and cons of various approaches with you to help you make the best choice for your situation.
6. Breast Lift (Mastopexy)
A breast lift, also known as a mastopexy, is a surgical procedure to raise and reshape sagging breasts — at least, that’s what it was before plastic surgeons began combining it with breast augmentation.
Nowadays, “breast lift” can refer to either procedure or any combination of the two.
The technical name for a breast lift is mastopexy. During this procedure, the doctor raises the breasts by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue to reshape and support the new breast contour.
Sometimes the areola becomes enlarged over time, and a breast lift will reduce this as well. The result is perkier, firmer, better-shaped breasts that appear more youthful.
If your nipples point downward or your breasts sag below your crease line, you might consider having this procedure.
If you want to change the size of your breasts in addition to lifting them, you can combine the two procedures in what is called an augmentation-mastopexy.
This increases both firmness and fullness, returning your breasts to their former youthful profile while enlarging them if desired.
7. Brow Lift Surgery
A brow lift is a plastic surgery procedure to improve the appearance of the forehead, the brow, and the area around the eyes.
Brow lifts are typically done on an outpatient basis using either general anesthesia or sedation with local anesthesia.
The length of your surgery depends on how much work is being done but generally lasts one to two hours.
There are several techniques used for brow lifting. The most common approach is through an incision made across the top of your scalp, just behind the hairline.
Your surgeon will then separate the skin from your forehead and remove any excess tissue before stitching it back together.
With this method, any resulting scars will be hidden by your hair once you heal.
In a limited incision forehead lift, your surgeon makes a smaller incision along your hairline and uses an endoscope — a thin tube with a lighted camera on one end — to guide the procedure.
During a direct brow lift, a second surgeon makes an incision in each eyebrow to remove excess tissue and lift your eyebrows into a more attractive position.
With this technique, scars are visible but often heal well.
8. Buttock Augmentation
A Brazilian butt lift reshapes the buttocks by transferring fat from another area of the body. A surgeon will typically extract fat from the abdomen, thighs, or back, purify it and inject it into the buttocks.
Buttock augmentation procedures are not without risks. The Brazilian butt lift is among the most dangerous aesthetic plastic surgery procedures out there.
One study found that 1 in 3,000 patients who have this procedure die within a month of having it done.
For those who do live through the procedure, complications can include infection and nerve damage.
In 2012, a woman had a buttock augmentation — a common plastic surgery procedure to make her buttocks larger — done in Florida by an unlicensed physician.
The doctor injected her with silicone instead of another approved substance, and she later died of a heart attack.
9. Ear Pinning (Otoplasty)
Ear pinning (otoplasty) corrects the appearance of protruding ears by setting them closer to the head.
The surgery can be performed on children as young as 5 years old when a child is old enough to understand that protruding ears are a normal variation and maybe cause teasing or ridicule.
The best candidates for ear pinning surgery are children with healthy, well-developed ears that are relatively large in proportion to their heads, but who otherwise have no deformities.
The otoplasty procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes about two hours. A small incision is made behind the ear, then the surgeon manipulates the cartilage and bends it back toward the head.
After this, a permanent stitch is placed deep within the skin to hold the new shape. The entire ear will be covered in bandages after surgery, which must remain in place for approximately a week.
When the bandages are removed, a headband will be used to keep the ears firmly pressed against the head for several weeks.
Facelift (rhytidectomy) is a cosmetic surgical procedure that improves visible signs of aging in the face and neck, such as sagging skin.
The procedure involves removing excess facial skin and tightening underlying tissues to smooth out wrinkles and create a more youthful appearance.
Facelift surgery can be performed alone or with other procedures, such as eyelid surgery or forehead lift, to enhance results.
During your consultation, your doctor will discuss your cosmetic goals and evaluate your face to determine if a facelift is appropriate for you.
During facelift surgery, an incision is made along the hairline at the temple and extends around the earlobe to behind the ear.
Skin and tissue are lifted and underlying fat may be sculpted or redistributed to improve contours.
Excess skin is removed and the remaining skin is pulled tight to improve its elasticity. The resulting scar lies in the natural crease of the ear and fades over time.
Facelift surgery takes several hours to perform while patients are under general anesthesia. Facelifts are commonly combined with rhinoplasty (nose job), which can be done at the same time for optimal results.
Liposuction is a cosmetic procedure that removes fat that you can’t seem to get rid of through diet and exercise. People choose liposuction to improve the body’s shape in specific areas.
It is not a weight-loss solution or an obesity treatment, and it shouldn’t be viewed as an alternative to proper diet and exercise.
Liposuction is most effective for people who are within 30% of their ideal body weight and who have firm, elastic skin, and good muscle tone.
You should also be physically healthy, psychologically stable, and realistic in your expectations.
The procedure permanently removes fat cells from the treated areas, but it doesn’t prevent future weight gain.
If you gain weight after liposuction, the new fat cells may enlarge in different areas of your body.
12. Hair Replacement Surgery
Maybe your hair is thinning, or maybe you’re ready to make a change and want really cool hair.
Whatever the case may be, if you are looking for a change, you may want to consider hair replacement surgery.
Hair replacement surgery is a type of plastic surgery that involves taking healthy hair follicles from an area on your body where there is plenty of growth and transplanting them to areas where your hair is thinning or nonexistent.
The transplanted hairs will fall out within two weeks after surgery, but new growth will begin within three months and will continue to grow like normal hair.
Hair transplant surgery can be performed on both men and women.
While it was originally developed for men who are experiencing male pattern baldness, it is now being used more frequently by women who experience thinning of the hair due to age or medical conditions such as alopecia areata.
If you are considering this type of procedure, you should discuss your options with a cosmetic surgeon.
Only a qualified plastic surgeon will be able to determine whether or not this procedure would be beneficial for you.
Before deciding on a particular surgeon, do some research and find someone who has plenty of experience performing this type of procedure.
Cosmetic surgery is a unique discipline of medicine focused on enhancing appearance through surgical and medical techniques.
Cosmetic surgery can be performed on all areas of the head, neck, and body. Because treated areas function properly but lack aesthetic appeal, cosmetic surgery is elective.