Definitions and Goals
The term plastic is derived from a Greek word meaning to form or to mold. Cosmetic surgery is a specialized area of plastic surgery; it is used to correct undesirable physical features and/or to reverse the physical signs of aging. The ultimate goal of cosmetic surgery is to achieve a natural, improved appearance, not perfection.
Selecting a Surgeon
Cosmetic surgery is seldom an absolute necessity. You should carefully evaluate a prospective surgeon by asking “Where was the physician trained?”, “Is he/she board certified?”, etc. Most importantly, have you seen attractive results, or has the surgeon been recommended by friends, acquaintances, or medical contacts? Seeing actual before and after photographs can be helpful, but misleading if the surgeon presents only a few of his “best results.” The best referral source comes from patients who are pleased with their own surgical results.
Most procedures require a minimum of anesthesia. When necessary, twilight sleep or light general anesthesia is administered by the surgeon or by a competent anesthetist or anesthesiologist. The level of anesthesia will vary with the needs of each patient. Patients remain in the office or surgical center until recovery is completed and then they are discharged to their own homes.
Cosmetic surgery complications are possible, but they are very rare. Risks that are common to all procedures include bleeding, unfavorable scarring, infection, and reaction to drugs or anesthetics. Risks that are specific to each procedure will be discussed by the surgeon. Individual differences in healing or postoperative trauma may occasionally require revisions or second-stage procedures.
The period of convalescence varies, depending upon the surgery performed. Written instructions are provided to guide the patient through the preoperative and postoperative periods. In most cases there will be temporary swelling, bruising or discomfort. Pain is surprisingly minimal and easily controlled with medication.
Cosmetic surgery is elective and can be done when finances are available. Customarily, fees are paid before surgery and include the routine preoperative, operative, and postoperative care. In general, cosmetic surgery is not covered by insurance. Carriers will only pay when the surgery is done for reconstruction of deformities caused by accidents or when surgery improves function, such as nasal obstruction caused by nasal septal deviation. It is common for surgeons to recommend multiple procedures at the same time. Combining procedures can offer both time and cost savings to the patient.
Most cosmetic surgery is performed in office operating suites or in outpatient surgical centers that are equipped similar to hospital facilities. Dr. Park’s Face and Body Surgery Center in Upland, California is accredited by AAAHC. This is the highest level of accreditation and assures compliance with the standard of care used by major hospitals.