Aviva Directory » Health & Well-Being » Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is a form of surgery designed to improve an individual's appearance. Often, this involves plastic surgery.

Unlike restorative surgery, cosmetic surgery is generally an elective procedure. Although some elective surgeries are medically necessary, they are elective in the sense that the individual won't die or suffer grave consequences if it is not performed.

The primary goal of cosmetic surgery is to improve the individual's appearance, sense of self-esteem, and self-assurance.

People might turn to surgery to smooth wrinkles, enlarge the size of the breasts, or reshape the nose. Although health insurance plans usually won't cover the cost of such elective procedures, surgeons do a brisk business in breast augmentation, nose reshaping, liposuction, tummy tucks, facelifts, and eyelid surgeries. Surgery is often used to eliminate balding areas.

Varicose vein treatments are sometimes medically necessary. Still, these are often elective surgeries, as well.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the most common cosmetic procedures are breast augmentation, breast implant removals, breast lifts, buttock lifts, chin, cheek or jaw reshaping, dermabrasions, eyelid lifts, facelifts, forehead lifts, hair replacement or transplantation, lip augmentation, liposuction, lower body lift, nose reshaping, thigh lifts, tummy tucks, upper arm lifts, botox injections, cellulite treatments, chemical peels, facial rejuvenation, laser skin resurfacing, laser treatments of leg veins, and vaginal rejuvenation.

Cosmetic surgery differs from reconstructive surgery in that the latter seeks to reconstruct a part of the body or improve its functioning, while the former is designed to enhance the appearance of it.

The word plastic in plastic surgery refers to the concept of reshaping, or the art of modeling of malleable flesh, and precedes the modern usage of the word as an engineering material made from petroleum. In other words, plastic surgery doesn't necessarily involve the use of plastic.

While there is documentation of cosmetic surgeries being performed in ancient Rome and India, the father of modern plastic surgery is Sir Harold Gillies, a New Zealander working in London, who developed many of the techniques of modern facial surgery in his treatment of soldiers with facial injuries sustained during World War I. In 1930, his cousin, Archibald McIndoe, joined the practice and advanced the field of plastic surgery further.

Subdisciplines of plastic surgery include aesthetic surgery, burn surgery, craniofacial surgery, ethnic plastic surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery, pediatric plastic surgery, and prison plastic surgery. However, the latter is not commonly practiced any longer.

The transfer of skin tissue is a standard procedure in plastic surgery, in which skin grafts are derived from the recipient or from donors. Those taken from the recipient are known as autografts, while those from a donor of the same species are allografts, and those from a donor of a different species are xenografts.

All surgeries have risks, and common complications of cosmetic surgery include hematoma, nerve injury, infection, scarring, implant failure, and end-organ damage. Rupture is a common complication in breast implants.

Individuals who have a predilection for cosmetic surgeries to correct perceived defects in their appearance may be diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder, which is a mental health disorder characterized by an overwhelming notion that parts of their body are severely flawed, and may seek to pressure plastic surgeons into participating in unnecessary cosmetic surgeries.

While cosmetic surgery can improve an individual's appearance and self-confidence, elective surgeries should not be sought without first making a careful and objective review of goals, expectations, and needs, as well as an understanding of the benefits and risks involved.



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