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Plastic Surgery Glossary
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Plastic Surgery Glossary Terms

Abdominoplasty ('tummy tuck'): Sometimes after multiple pregnancies or large weight loss, abdominal muscles weaken, and skin in the area becomes flacid. Abdominoplasty can tighten the abdominal muscles and, in some instances, improve stretch marks. In both men and women, the procedure will remove excess skin and fat. Generally, an incision is made across the pubic area and around the umbilicus (navel). When skin laxity and muscle weakness is confined to the lower part of the abdomen, a modified abdominoplasty that limits tissue removal and muscle repair to the area below the umbilicus may be performed. This usually leaves a shorter scar and no scarring around the navel.
 
Accent Laser: A non-invasive, laser treatment for cellulite reduction. Uses a combination of rf (radio frequency) signals and laser light to heat the targeted body area, kill the fat cells, rejuvenate and tighten loose skin, resulting in a more youthful appearance.
 
Alpha Hydroxy Acids: Alpha hydroxy acids are derived from foods, such as fruits and milk, and can improve the texture of skin by removing layers of dead cells and encouraging cell regeneration.
 
Augmentation Mammoplasty: (see Breast Augmentation)
 
Blepharoplasty: ('eyelid surgery'): A plastic surgical procedure on the eyelid designed to reduce excess tissue and to correct defects. See also eyelid surgery.
 
Bilateral Gynecomastia: ('male breast reduction'): A condition of over-developed or enlarged breasts affecting both breasts in men. See also Male Breast Reduction.
 
Body-Sculpting Liposuction ('suction-assisted lipectomy', 'suction lipectomy', 'lipoplasty'): A plastic surgery procedure that is ideal for contouring specific body areas with localized fatty deposits. Liposuction is performed using tiny incisions through which excess fat is removed. The most common areas treated with liposuction are the abdomen, love handles or flanks, thighs, arms and chest.
 
Body Thermage: non-invasive, non-surgical cosmetic procedure that works to effectively tighten, contour and rejuvenate skin to help naturally restore a more youthful appearance. See also thermage.
 
Botox Injections: Facial filler; non-surgical. Using a micro-needle, minute amounts of Botulinum Toxin are injected into specific facial muscles and stops them forming lines and wrinkles, resulting in a more youthful appearance.
 
Breast Augmentation ('augmentation mammaplasty'): A surgical procedure to increase the size of the breast using artificial implants, filled with either a saline solution or silicone.
 
Breast Enhancement ('augmentation mammaplasty'): See Breast Augmentation.
 
Breast Enlargement ('augmentation mammaplasty', 'mastoplexy'): A surgical procedure to increase size of the breasts by the insertion of artificial implants. See also Breast Implants and Breast Augmentation.
 
Breast Implants ('mastopexy'): A silicone rubber shell filled with either silicone gel or inflated with a saline solution used to enlarge the breast.
 
Breast Implants ('textured-surface'): The shell of textured-surface breast implants are made with the same silicone elastomer that is used for the shell of other types of breast implants, but a special manufacturing process creates a textured surface.
 
Breast Implant Removal: A surgical procedure to remove implants with or without replacement; for desired changes in proportions, or due to implant-related complications.
 
Breast Lift ('mastopexy'): A surgical procedure to lift the breasts, remove excess skin and raise the nipple for perkier, fuller breasts; to counteract gravity, loss of elasticity, and sagging.
 
Breast Reconstruction ('mastectomy'): A plastic surgery procedure designed to restore breasts to a normal shape, appearance and size following mastectomy.
 
Breast Reduction ('reduction mammoplasty'): A procedure designed to reduce breast size. The procedure removes fat, tissue, and excess skin from the breast, making the breast smaller, lighter, and firmer.
 
Breast Surgery - Main ('augmentation mammoplasty', 'mastopexy', 'mastectomy', 'reduction mammoplasty'): Any number of surgical procedures to increase; lift, raise, or reduce the size of the breasts. See also breast implants, breast lift and breast reconstruction.
 
Buccal Fat Pad: Buccal fat pads are located above the jawline near the corner of the mouth. They can be removed in individuals with excessively round faces to give a more contoured look, sometimes referred to as the "waif look." However, plastic surgeons warn that, in some individuals, removal of the buccal fat pads can lead to a drawn, hollow-cheeked look as aging progresses.
 
Buttock implants: The implant, usually made of silicone, is inserted into either the buttock cheeks to create a firmer, more desirable appearance.
 
Buttock Lift: Reduction of excess fat and loose skin in the buttock region by performing a buttock lift in combination with liposuction ('lipoplasty').
 
Calf Augmentation: Increased fullness of the calf is achieved using implants made of hard silicone which are inserted from behind the knee and moved into position underneath the calf muscle.
 
Cannula: A hollow tube attached to a high-vacuum device used to remove fat through liposuction. The plastic surgeon manipulates the cannula within the fat layers under the skin, dislodging the fat and "vacuuming" it out.
 
Capsular Contracture: Capsular contracture is the most common problem associated with breast implants. It occurs when naturally forming scar tissue around the implant shrinks and tightens, making the breast feel firmer than normal and sometimes causing pain and an unnatural appearance of the breast.
 
Cellulite: Cellulite is the dimpled-looking fat that often appears on the buttocks, thighs and hips. While there is no treatment that will eradicate this problem, aesthetic plastic surgeons are exploring new techniques which may improve the condition. One method is to cut the fibrous tissue that binds the fat down in these areas and creates the lumpy appearance, and then to inject fact withdrawn from elsewhere in the body to smooth out the unevenness. Another technique, called the cellulite lift, surgically removes excess skin and fat, leaving a thin scar that may extend around the full circumference of the abdomen but is placed discreetly within bikini lines.
 
Cheek Implant ('malar augmentation'): Enhances shape, contour, and balance of face.
 
Chemical Peel ('chemexfoliation', 'facial peel'): A skin rejuvenation treatment; non-surgical. A process in which a chemical solution is applied to the skin to remove dead skin cells and age spots and stimulate the re-growth of fresh, new skin cells.
 
Chin Augmentation ('mentoplasty'): Chin augmentation can strengthen the appearance of a receding chin by increasing its projection. The procedure does not affect the patient's bite or jaw. There are two techniques: one is performed through an incision inside the mouth and involves moving the chinbone, then wiring it into position; the other approach requires insertion of an implant through an incision inside the mouth, between the lower lip and the gum, or through an external incision underneath the chin.
 
Chin Implants('mentoplasty' or 'chin surgery'): chin augmentation with an artificial implant is surgically placed in the chin to correct an anatomical deficiency or to achieve a more desirable appearance.
 
Collagen: A natural protein, the major protein of connective tissue that makes up the foundation of skin and other tissues. Used as an injectable filler for soft tissue augmentation. See also injectable fillers.
 
Collagen Treatments: Injectable filler used to modify defects and rejuvenate areas of the skin. Collagen is an injectable protein that can be used to treat facial wrinkles. Patients to be treated with collagen should first be tested for any allergic reaction. The results of collagen injections are not permanent, and treatments must be repeated periodically to maintain results.
 
Conventional Liposuction ('lipoplasty'): A surgical procedure which removes localized collections of fatty tissue from the legs, buttocks, abdomen, back, arms, face and neck using a high vacuum device.
 
Dermabrasion: A surgical procedure in which the surface layers of skin, scarred from acne or other causes, is frozen and then removed using a high-powered rotating brush, giving the skin a more youthful appearance.
 
Earlobe Reduction: A simple, 30-minute procedure, earlobe reduction can be performed in a plastic surgeon's office or at the same time as a facelift operation. The earlobe should not comprise more than 25 percent of the total length of the ear. In cases where it exceeds this dimension, an L-shaped wedge is cut away, the earlobe edges are brought together and sutured.
 
Ear Surgery ('octoplasty'): A procedure to reshape the ears, whether it be pinning back prominent ears or correcting abnormalities in shape and appearance. See also octoplasty.
 
Eyelid Surgery ('blepharoplasty'): Procedure designed to correct problems with eyelids, i.e. drooping eyelids and bags. See also blepharoplasty.
 
Face and Neck Surgery-Main: Any number of surgical or non-surgical procedures designed to improve, alter and change the appearance of the face and neck.
 
Face Lift ('rhytidectomy'): A surgical procedure to rejuvenate the appearance of the face and neck which reduce jowls under the cheeks and improves the jawline by repositioning muscle and removing excess skin.
 
Fat Injections: Fat withdrawn from one body site can be injected into another -- for example, to smooth lines in the face or build up other features such as the lips. In most cases, a percentage of injected fat is resorbed by the body, and the procedure must be repeated. Injection of fat to enlarge the breasts is a dangerous procedure and is not recommended because of the possibility of dense scarring that may seriously hinder accurate interpretation of both breast self-exams and mammograms.
 
Fibrel: Fibrel is a synthetic substance which is an alternative to collagen and fat injections for the treatment of facial wrinkles. As with collagen and fat, fibrel treatments must repeated at intervals to maintain correction.
 
Forehead lift: A surgical procedure that eliminates wrinkles creases, and signs of aging on the forehead.
 
Fractional Resurfacing ('photothermolysys'): A skin rejuvenation treatment which eliminates lines and wrinkles; repairs sun damaged skin on the face, neck, shoulders and hands, and removes age spots and blemishes. Also treats acne scars and hyperpigmentation (areas of darker pigment or brown patches in the skin).
 
Fraxel ('Fractional laser treatment'): A type of laser used in cosmetic procedures. Fractional lasers are ablative, which means that they vaporize skin on the surface, effectively removing the top-most layers of the skin. Fractional lasers differ from other ablative lasers, in that they ablate the tissue only in small areas, leaving the surrounding areas uninjured. Fractional lasers are typically used to address cosmetic skin problems such as pigmentation problems, as well as scarring from acne and other types of scars.
 
Gynecomastia: A condition in which the male's breast tissue enlarges. Gynecomastia literally means "woman breast." This increase in tissue usually occurs at times when the male is having hormonal changes, such as during infancy, adolescence, and old age.
 
Hair Restoration/ Replacement: Procedures that transfer healthy hair follicles from healthy donor areas to the hairless areas.
 
Hair Transplantation: A thin strip of hair-bearing scalp is removed, separated into pieces of 1 to 5 hair follicles, and then implanted into hairless areas.
 
Hand Surgery: Refers to procedures performed to treat traumatic injuries or loss of function resulting from such diseases as advanced arthritis of the hand.
 
Hyaluronic Acid ('dermal fillers', 'injectable fillers'): Hyaluronic Acid is a natural fluid present in the human body around the eye areas and in the joints. Hyaluronic Acid in the cosmetic surgery technique is used for facial augmentation. The therapy involves injections in the face to improve facial contour, add volume to depressed areas of skin, eliminate scars, fill lines and wrinkles, giving a more youthful appearance. See also injectable fillers.
 
Hydroxylapatite Granules: Hydroxyapatite granules are a bone substitute made from coral that can be used to enhance facial contours, such as forming more prominent cheekbones. The substance also has reconstructive uses in craniofacial surgery.
 
IPL Hair Removal (Intense Pulsed Light): The doctor or specialist shoots a beam of light down to the base of the skin allowing the root of the hair to absorb the light while burning it from the inside.
 
Injectable Fillers: A non-invasive; non-surgical procedure designed to restore to skin a more youthful appearance. Injectables are comprised of fluids that are naturally produced in the body. These fluids are called Collagen, Hyaluronic Acid and Fat, Polyacrylamide Gels, Isolagen, Artecoll. See also hyaluronic acid.
 
Labiaplasty ('vaginal rejuvenation'): A cosmetic genital surgical procedure designed to reduce the size of/or shape of the labia minora ('lips') of the vagina, or the labia majora, the larger part just outside of the lips.
 
Laceration Repair: Laceration repair mends a tear in the skin, stop bleeding, prevent infection, preserve function, and restore appearance. The goals of laceration repair are to achieve hemostasis, avoid infection, restore function to the involved tissues, and achieve optimal cosmetic results with minimal scarring.
 
Large Volume Liposuction ('suction-assisted lipectomy', 'suction lipectomy', 'lipoplasty'): A surgical procedure which removes large amounts of fat, usually considered to be removal of more than 8-10 liters of fat, under the skin through the use of a cannula and vacuum.
 
Lasers: Lasers can be effectively used to eliminate surface blood vessels on the face that become reddened and enlarged due to sun exposure. The problem is most often seen in fair-skinned individuals who cannot tan or have difficulty tanning. The use of lasers for skin resurfacing is effective in reducing the effects of sun damage. Laser resurfacing is an alternative to chemical peel for some patients.
 
Laser Hair Removal: In the treatment a laser beam is targeted at the melanin found in the hair follicles beneath the surface of the skin destroying the follicle and preventing further growth. The treatment targets those areas of unwanted hair, including the chest and back.
 
Laser Skin Resurfacing ('laser peel'): Facial rejuvenation treatment; non-surgical. Eliminates or modifies skin defects by concentrating laser on damaged areas, leaving surrounding tissues undamaged. Facial scars and sun-damaged skin are also excellent candidates for this treatment.
 
Laser leg treatment of veins: A laser treatment technique designed to eliminate thread veins in the legs.
 
Laser Skin Tightening: A skin rejuvenation treatment to improve skin tone, skin smoothness, and skin laxity. Also treats age spots, pigmentation, melasma, rosacea, high colour and wrinkles.
 
Lip Augmentation: A procedure that increases the size and definition of the lips, using temporary or permanent facial fillers (restylane or collagen) or implants.
 
Lip Lift: A technique that surgically lifts the corners of the aging mouth can eliminate the pronounced droop and unhappy facial expression that often develops with advanced age. By cutting away small diamonds of skin just above the corners of the mouth, the vermilion (border of the lips) is raised into a slight smile.
 
Lip Reduction: To reduce the lips, a small strip of the mucosa (the lining of the lip) is surgically removed to narrow the lips to the desired proportion. The small scars on the outside of the lips are barely noticeable.
 
Liposuction('suction-assisted lipectomy', 'suction lipectomy', 'lipoplasty'): A procedure which vacuums out excess fat from nearly any region of the body.
 
Lipoplasty: Allows the plastic surgeon to remove localized collections of fatty tissue from the legs, buttocks, abdomen, back, arms, face and neck using a high vacuum device.
 
Liposuction - Main ('suction-assisted lipectomy', 'suction lipectomy'): A procedure which removes fat lying under the skin through the use of a cannula and vacuum. Liposuction is a procedure that can help sculpt the body by removing unwanted fat from specific areas, including the abdomen, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, upper arms, chin, cheeks and neck.
 
Lipodissolve: A treatment involving a series of miniscule injections of chemicals which dissolve localized areas of fat deposits in many areas of the body including the thighs and hips, upper and lower arms, fat deposits of the back and fat around the cheeks and face.
 
Lower Eyelid Surgery ('blepharoplasty'): A procedure correcting drooping eyelids or bags. See also blepharoplasty.
 
Macrolane: uses the non-permanent filler hyaluronic acid to contour the body and can be used for a number of purposes, including creating a higher and more defined chest in men, redefining and contouring the breasts and buttocks, and making the calves appear more sculpted.
 
Malar augmentation('Cheek Implant'): The cheekbones are enhanced, or built up by placing an implant over them. See also cheek implant.
 
Male Breast Reduction: Reduces the size of the breasts, the condition known as gynecomastia.
 
Male Hair Restoration: A procedure in which healthy hair follicles are transplanted from healthy donor area to the area lacking in hair.
 
Male Procedures - Main: Any surgical or non-surgical procedure which seeks to improve, alter, or change the size or appearance of the male body.
 
Mastopexy: (see Breast Lift)
 
Mentoplasty ('Chin Implant'): a surgical procedure that can strengthen the appearance of a receding chin by increasing its projection with an artificial implant. See also chin Implants.
 
Mesotherapy: a series of injections of homeopathic medicine into the fat layer beneath the skin for cellulite reduction and weight loss.
 
Microdermabrasion: This skin care treatment uses no lasers or chemicals. Instead it involves passing a fine collection of medical grade crystals over the skin's surface, which gently removes the dead skin cells smoothing the surface of the skin through a process of exfoliation. A technique designed to eliminate and diminish skin defects such as wrinkles, acne, sun damaged skin and blackhead and whitehead spots, giving a younger, more rejuvenated appearance.
 
Neck Lift ('cervicoplasty'): surgery to remove excess skin to raise the neckline, correct "turkey neck", and improve profile.
 
Non-Invasive Procedures: Non-surgical procedures. Non-invasive treatments offer immediate results with no down time.
 
Nasal surgery ('rhinoplasty', 'nose surgery', 'nasal reconstruction'): Reshaping and/or resizing of the nose. See also rhinoplasty.
 
Otoplasty: surgery of the ear to pin back prominent ears or reduce and reshape overly large or malformed ears.
 
Peel - Buffered Phenol: Buffered phenol offers yet another option for severely sun-damaged skin. One such formula uses olive oil, among other ingredients, to diminish the strength of the phenol solution. Another slightly milder formula uses glycerin. Buffered phenol peels may be more comfortable for patients, and the skin heals faster than with a standard phenol peel.
 
Pectoral (Chest) Enlargement: Male pectoral enlargement is a cosmetic procedure where chest implants made of solid silicone are inserted inside the chest to increase chest size and shape.
 
Phenol: The chemical phenol is sometimes used for full-face peeling when sun damage or wrinkling is severe. It can also be used to treat limited areas of the face, such as deep wrinkles around the mouth, but it may permanently bleach the skin, leaving a line of demarcation between the treated and untreated areas that must be covered with makeup.
 
Platysma: The muscle which, when tight and firm, gives the neck underneath the chin and jawline its youthful contour. The platysma muscle can be tightened during a facelift or as a separate procedure.
 
Polymethyl-Pethacrylate Microspheres (PMMA): is nonbiodegradable, relatively nontoxic and chemically inert dermal filler used under the brand of ArteFill (ArteColl).
 
Reconstructive Plastic Surgery: A type of plastic surgery that is performed on abnormal structures of the body that may be caused by trauma, infection, developmental abnormalities, congenital defects, disease, and/or tumors. This type of surgery is usually performed to improve function, but may also be performed to approximate a normal appearance.
 
Reduction Mammoplasty: (see Breast Reduction)
 
ReFirme ('skin resurfacing'): A treatment combining radiofrequency (RF) with infrared (IR) light. The two work simultaneously to gently heat the skin, resulting in immediate tightening of the skin, and firming of sagging skin.
 
Restylane: A soft tissue filler made of hyaluronic acid, which adds volume to minimize wrinkles and lines.
 
Retin-A: Retin-A cream or lotion may be applied to enhance the overall texture of the skin and is often prescribed as a pre-treatment prior to a facelift or chemical peel.
 
Reviderm Intra: A dermal filler comprised of non-animal stabilized hyaluronic acid with suspended carbohydrate complex microspheres. A semi-permanent filler, the microspheres fully resorb in months. Not U.S. FDA approved.
 
Rhinoplasty ('nasal surgery', 'nose surgery', 'nose reconstruction'): the surgical repair of a defect of the nose, including reshaping or resizing the nose.
 
Rhinoplasty - Open: The open rhinoplasty technique can sometimes benefit patients who need more complex correction or are undergoing a secondary rhinoplasty procedure. A small incision is made outside the nose across the columella (the tissue that divides the two nostrils). This enables the plastic surgeon to turn the outer tissue of the nose back, providing visualization of the structures inside. Additional incisions, like those used in the traditional closed approach, are made inside the nose as well. The scar resulting from the incision on the outside of the nose eventually becomes barely visible.
 
Rhytidectomy ('facelift'): a surgical procedure that involves the removal of excess facial fat, the tightening of facial muscles, and the stretching of facial skin, approximating a smoother, firmer appearance. The procedure can also be performed on the neck.
 
Soft tissue fillers: Soft tissue fillers are used to correct various facial lines and folds. Fillers are placed in areas that have lost 'scaffolding' in the skin thus result in a natural lift and tightening of the skin. The most popular fillers are Hyaluronic Acid Fillers such as Restylane and Perlane.
 
Scar Revision: Any of a variety of procedures to improve the appearance and/or orientation of scars.
 
SmartLipo: A non-invasive technique, not requiring the use of a general anesthetic. The procedure involves the use of a laser that dissolves the fat and tightens the surrounding skin.
 
SMAS ('superficial musculoaponeurotic system'): a layer of tissue that covers the deeper structures in the cheek area and is in continuity with the superficial muscle covering the lower face and neck, called the platysma. Some facelift techniques lift and reposition the SMAS as well as the skin.
 
Superficial Syringe Liposculpture: Use of a syringe to withdraw fat, instead of vacuum suctioning pumps, allows for less blood loss and speedier postoperative recovery. Superficial syringe liposculpture is performed on the layer of fat just beneath the skin.
 
Tattooing (Cosmetic): Cosmetic tattooing, or micropigmentation, can be used for permanent eyeliner, eyebrows or lip color. It can also be used for permanent blush and eyeshadow, though this is infrequent. Other uses by plastic surgeons include recreating the coloration of the areola around the nipple following breast reconstruction; restoring the color of dark or light skin where natural pigmentation has been lost through such factors as vitiligo, cancer, burns or other scarring; and eliminating some types of birthmarks or previous tattoos. Micropigmentation should be performed only under medical supervision by appropriately trained personnel.
 
TCA: Trichloroacetic acid is used for peeling of the face, neck, hands and other exposed areas of the body. It has less bleaching effect than phenol, and is excellent for "spot" peeling of specific areas. It can be used for deep, medium or light peeling, depending on the concentration and method of application.
 
Thigh Lift: A thigh lift is performed to tighten sagging muscles and remove excess skin in the thigh area.
 
Threadlift: The threadlift procedure is a non-surgical, no scar facelift performed using tiny surgical sutures (called threads) to lift and support droopy elements of the face, cheeks, neck and brow, creating a more youthful appearance.
 
Tissue Expansion: Tissue expansion is a technique in which skin or other tissue is stretched using inflatable balloons. It can be of particular value in performing breast reconstruction, breast enlargement or treatment of male pattern baldness.
 
Transconjunctival Blepharoplasty ('eyelid surgery'): this procedure involves making an incision from inside the lower eyelid. It is a useful technique when only fat, and not skin or muscle, needs to be removed from the eyelid area.
 
Tumescent Liposuction: The tumescent technique contours such areas as the waist, hips, thighs and buttocks.
 
Tummy Tuck ('abdominoplasty'): A surgical procedure which removes excess fat and skin around the abdomen area, especially beneficial after pregnancy or weight loss.
 
Thermage: a safe; non-invasive, radiofrequency (RF) cosmetic procedure that helps smooth, tighten and contour skin for an overall younger looking appearance. Procedures can effectively and safely treat skin on most body parts, including the face, eyes, lips, tummy, arms, hands, thighs and buttocks.
 
Ultrasonic Liposuction ('ultrasonic assisted liposuction'): A procedure used in conjunction with tumescent liposuction techniques. UAL works by converting ultrasonic energy into heat, literally melting the fat cells, allowing the remains to be suctioned away. There is minimal blood loss, less bruising, and better retraction of tissue, resulting in the effective removal of fat.
 
Upper Arm Lift ('brachioplasty'): This is a surgical procedure to remove loose skin and excess fat deposits in the upper arm and improve the contour of the arm following weight loss.
 
Velashape: A non-invasive procedure designed to combat cellulite. Treatment combines powerful energies to reduce the volume of fat tissues and the appearance of dimpling where cellulite occurs. The system safely delivers heat into fatty tissue to target loose or dimpled skin and firm problem areas.
 
Velasmooth: A non-invasive, cellulite reduction procedure that is FDA approved. It is safe and has been proven effective in re-contouring the body. Infrared light is used to heat the target area and increase the elasticity of the skin. Then, conducted Radio Frequency penetrates to heat the fat cells below the surface of the skin. This heat also promotes better circulation to the local area, allowing more oxygen exchange for increased fat cell metabolism, resulting in the reduction of cellulite.
 
 
Most popular procedures on Perfect Yourself: liposuction, breast augmentation, face lifts, rhinoplasty, tummy tucks
 
Be sure to also visit our Expert Advice page where you can find great questions from real visitors, Answered by real plastic surgeons, cosmetic dentists, and skin rejuvenation specialists.
 


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