Cosmetic Surgery Options -- The Basics

The Cleveland Clinic

There are many treatment options to improve or change your face and body. When you talk to your surgeon, be open about what you want, but be willing to listen to their recommendations. They may recommend a different procedure to achieve a similar result.

Often a less invasive or more isolated procedure will do as well as a more involved surgery. And in some cases, your doctor may recommend one of a number of skin care products or non-surgical cosmetic procedures to treat your problem. Below is a summary of some of the newer options available.

Isolated Surgical Techniques

For people with less facial aging, a neck lift, forehead lift, mid-face lift, eyelid surgery or chin surgery can minimize the effects of aging and offer a fresher, more youthful look.

Cosmetic procedures to improve the body's appearance include liposuction, breast enlargement or reduction, and abdominoplasty ("tummy tuck").

Minimally Invasive Cosmetic Surgery

For many surgical procedures, including cosmetic surgery, the method of choice has shifted from traditional open surgery to the use of less invasive. Minimally invasive surgery is surgery done with the aid of a viewing scope and specially designed surgical instruments. The scope allows the surgeon to perform major surgery through several tiny openings without the need for a large incision.

These minimally invasive alternatives usually result in less pain, less scarring, and a quicker recovery for the patient, as well as reduced healthcare costs. Most surgeries -- from open-heart operations to vasectomies -- are now being done with minimally invasive methods. In fact, operations and therapeutic procedures performed through smaller incisions are becoming standard in surgical medicine.

In cosmetic surgery, minimally invasive procedures use newer technologies, such as a laser, to perform procedures that once required extensive surgery and recovery time. Today's plastic surgeons have available a variety of tools and techniques that make procedures such as facelifts and eye lifts more accessible and affordable.

In fact, most cosmetic procedures are performed on an outpatient basis in fully equipped operating rooms under either local or general anesthesia.

Recovery times vary depending upon the procedure, but generally the healing period is between one and two weeks for facial cosmetic surgery. In fact, most patients resume their normal activities within two weeks following surgery.

Correcting Other Cosmetic Problems With Skin Care Products and Non-Surgical Procedures

Troubled by fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage or unwanted facial or body hair? If so, a number of skin care products and non-surgical cosmetic procedures -- many of which can be performed during a lunch hour --may help.

  • Correct the damage of aging. There are a variety of physician recommended skin care products available. These products are effective for correcting aging skin, sun-damaged skin, uneven pigmentation and acne, while offering superior skin rejuvenation capabilities. Product ingredients such as Retin-A reverse the effects of sun damage, and vitamin C minimizes the adverse effects of oxygen radicals on the skin. Such ingredients have been scientifically shown to have a beneficial effect on aging skin.
  • Rejuvenate tired skin. Chemical peels and microdermabrasion offer state-of-the-art renewal of skin that is tired, dull-looking or damaged. Patients emerge with smoother, softer and healthier-looking skin.
  • Smooth fine lines. Fine facial lines can be smoothed with collagen injections, a safe procedure that can often be performed on your lunch hour. Collagen replacement therapy supplements your skin's own collagen-and the results are immediate and long lasting.
  • Remove unwanted hair. If you're tired of shaving, plucking or waxing, consider laser hair reduction as a permanent alternative to reducing unwanted hair. Laser treatments remove hair more quickly, less painfully and more reliably than even electrolysis.

The Initial Consultation

At the initial consultation, the plastic surgeon will perform a detailed history, a physical examination, and a detailed analysis of the patient's area of concern. Photography and computer imaging are performed and the results are shared with the patient to give him or her a clear picture of the planned changes.

Make sure you have a full discussion with your surgeon about the risks and complications before you undergo any cosmetic surgery.

Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic, Department of Plastic Surgery.
Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD, Sept. 2003.

Portions of this page ©The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2003.


An average adult has about ________ square feet of skin. See Answer

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005