Aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery is an elective or optional form of surgery which individuals choose to have in order to improve their body appearance. The techniques, procedures and principles of aesthetic surgery are entirely focused on boosting the appearance of an individual. In fact, it is called elective or non-essential surgery because the areas that are treated have normal function and only their appearance is improved. Practiced by medical doctors from a variety of fields, including plastic surgeons, aesthetic surgery can be performed on all areas of the body, from head, neck to legs.
The key goals of cosmetic surgery are:
- Improved aesthetic appeal
- Better symmetry
- Enhanced proportion
The scope of aesthetic surgery procedures includes:
- Facial contouring e.g. rhinoplasty and cheek or chin enhancement
- Breast enhancement e.g. augmentation, reduction, lift
- Body contouring e.g. liposuction, tummy tuck, gynecomastia treatment
- Facial rejuvenation e.g. eyelid lift, facelift, brow lift, neck lift.
- Skin rejuvenation e.g. filler treatments, botox, laser resurfacing
While procedures for improving the appearance of the body are generally thought to fall under cosmetic surgery, there are some that are non-surgical. Indeed, cosmetic procedures are divided into two broad groups: surgical and non-surgical.
Surgical cosmetic procedures include:
- Eyelid surgery
iii. Breast augmentation
- Female breast reduction
Non-surgical cosmetic procedures include:
- Laser skin resurfacing
- Laser hair removal
- Hyaluronic acid (Restylane, Juvederm or Hylaform)
Types of Aesthetic Surgery
(a) Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty): Procedure for reshaping and firming the abdomen by removing excess skin from the lower and middle abdomen so that the muscle and fascia of the abdominal wall become tighter. Abdominoplasty is popular among women after pregnancy and among individuals who have lost a lot of weight and do not like the sagging skin that accompanies massive weight loss. The procedure may also correct sagging skin that is inherited and may also boost appearance of stretch marks (particularly those below the navel).
(b) Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty): Procedure for reshaping eyelids (or applying permanent eyeliner) with the aim of enhancing the appearance of lower or upper eyelids. It is performed by removing or repositioning excess tissue. The procedure may also include reinforcement of surrounding tendons and muscles.
(c) Mammoplasty: These are aesthetic surgery procedures performed on the breast. They include:
- Breast augmentation (breast enlargement/boob job): This procedure is performed when a woman feels that her breasts are too small (micromastia), when one breast is larger than the other or when breasts have changed after pregnancy or breastfeeding. Breasts are enlarged with fat grafting, silicone gel prosthetics or saline prosthetics, but breast implants may also be used in women whose breasts have been removed (mastectomy), especially after breast cancer treatment.
- Breast reduction: The removal of skin and glandular tissue to make breasts smaller in women who feel their breasts are too large (gigantomastia).
iii. Male breast reduction (gynecomastia): Procedure is conducted in men with abnormally large mammary glands.
- Mastopexy (breast lift): Used to raise the breasts and give them a youthful contour. Women usually go for breast lifts to reshape and firm their breasts after weight loss, pregnancy or breastfeeding, or even due to aging (skin loses elasticity with age).
(d) Lower-body lift: Surgical procedures used to improve the appearance of the lower body include:
- Buttock augmentation: Procedure for boosting the appearance of buttocks by making them larger. Surgeons may graft fat from another area of the body or use silicone implants to make buttocks larger.
- Buttock Lift: Aesthetic surgery procedure for lifting the buttocks to stick out and have a tighter and more animated appearance. A scarless technique involving the use of incisions which run from the back of the hips and to the front of the thighs is used to remove loose skin and underlying fat so that the remaining skin is stretched, tight and pert.
(e) Chemical peel: Procedure uses phenol (carbolic acid), AHA (glycolic acid), TCA (tri-chloroacetic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid) to remove acne, scars and wrinkles from the body. The two most common types are:
- Deep chemical (phenol) peel: Used for people with deep wrinkles in order to minimize the appearance of the skin imperfections and damage.
- Light-to-medium chemical peel: Suitable for individuals with sun-damaged skin, finely wrinkled faces and uneven skin pigmentation. The chemical peels away only the top skin layers.
(f) Labiaplasty (labial reduction/labia minor reduction/labioplasty): Aesthetic surgery procedure of the labia minora or labia majora of the female vulva which is used to reduce the elongated labia.
(g) Rhinoplasty (nose job): Procedure for reshaping the nose in order to improve its appearance.
(h) Otoplasty (ear surgery): Procedure for pining ears closer to the head, reducing the size of very large ears or reshaping different bends in ear cartilage. It is used to improve the appearance of individuals with protruding ears, large ears and abnormally shaped ears.
(i) Rhytidectomy (face lift): This is the surgical removal of wrinkles to make the face look younger and radiant.
(j) Liposuction (suction-aided lipectomy): Also called fat modeling or lipo, the procedure involves the surgical removal of fat from different parts of the body, especially the thighs, abdomen, hips, buttocks, neck and backs of arms. The amount of fat removed from the body depends on certain aspects of the patient and the technique for removal, but the maximum amount that can be removed is 5 kg (just over 10 lbs). Fat is removed through a cannula (hollow metal tube) that is passed into the fat tissue and attached to a pump (generating a vacuum). Liposuction is not a weight loss method.
(k) Brow lifts (browplasty/forehead lift): Procedure for raising drooping eyebrows and removing forehead wrinkles. It is usually performed in conjunction with other aesthetic surgery procedures to ensure a more harmonious facial appearance.
(l) Chin augmentation: Procedure for making the chin more prominent and in better balance with facial features. Implants are placed by surgeons to enlarge the chins.
(m) Cheek augmentation: Procedure for making the cheekbones more prominent. This is achieved by use of implants.
(n) Cheek lifts (midface lift): Procedure for raising the middle of the face in order to boost the cheek, facial contour and under-eye fullness.
(o) Hair transplantation: Procedure for replacing lost hair in men and in a small percentage of women. Several sessions are necessary to achieve desired results.
(p) Collagen injections: Collagen injections are used to reduce wrinkles, scars and lines as well as in augmenting soft tissue contours. However, the treatments are not permanent because collagen is degraded by the body and injections have to be repeated at a later date.
(q) Fat injections (fat grafting): Fat is collected from one area of the body and then injected in areas requiring volume enhancement. Procedure is used to treat depressions in the hands, face, lips, skin and legs in order to reduce a hollowed appearance.
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