Tucson Plastic Surgery and Skin Care Frequently Asked Questions

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Find the answers to all your questions about cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, including recovery time, types of procedures performed, and follow-up care.

What is plastic surgery?

Plastic surgery is a surgical specialty dedicated to reconstruction of facial and body defects due to birth disorders, trauma, burns, and disease. The art and science of plastic surgery is also involved with the enhancement of the appearance of a person through such operations as facelift, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, and liposuction.

Why the "Plastic" in Plastic Surgery?

The word "plastic" comes from the Greek word plastikos, meaning "to mold or shape." Many of the first plastic surgeries were developed to close a difficult wound or replace tissue lost due to injury or cancer. These procedures often involved the formation of a skin flap to reshape or mold the defect so as to approximate the original shape.

What is the difference between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery?

Cosmetic Surgery is performed to reshape normal structures of the body in order to improve the patient's appearance and self-esteem. Cosmetic surgery is usually not covered by health insurance because it is elective. Reconstructive Surgery is performed on abnormal structures of the body, caused by congenital defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma, infection, tumors or disease. It is generally performed to improve function, but may also be done to approximate a normal appearance. Reconstructive surgery is generally covered by most health insurance policies although coverage for specific procedures and levels of coverage may vary greatly. There are a number of "gray areas" in coverage for plastic surgery that sometimes require special consideration by an insurance carrier. These areas usually involved surgical operations which may be reconstructive or cosmetic, depending on each patient's situation. For example, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) - a procedure normally performed to achieve cosmetic improvement may be covered if the eyelids are drooping severely and obscuring a patient's vision.

Will I be able to tolerate the pain post-operatively?

Each patient will tolerate pain post-operatively in a different way, and we consider this. While some patients may describe the pain as an ache, others experience greater discomfort. Appropriate pain medications are prescribed for the post-operative patients, and these help minimize discomfort. Most facial cosmetic operations have minimal postoperative discomfort. Liposuction is slightly more uncomfortable, and operations that require elevation or tightening of the muscles, such as an abdominoplasty or breast augmentation, have discomfort equal to that of a C-section.

Is there a right age for cosmetic surgery?

There is no ideal age to have cosmetic surgery. The time to have an elective procedure is when the desired change will justify the time, effort and the cost involved. Another factor to take into consideration is the potential length of time to enjoy the benefits. For example, if an individual has a facelift earlier in life, the rewards of this surgery can be enjoyed for a greater period of time.

How long will my results last?

There is no precise answer to this question. Surgery does not affect the ongoing aging process which is largely dependent upon genetics. What cosmetic plastic surgery does is turn back the clock. Unfortunately, aging is inevitable; although with cosmetic surgery, you are able to continue to look more youthful and in shape.

How long is the recuperative period and when can I return to work?

The length of time it takes to recuperate after plastic surgery varies depending on the procedure performed and the person operated on. Most patients will require assistance for the first two days. Then most patients are able to care for themselves, but may still need assistance if they have small children to care for. The specific lengths of disability are outlined below by procedure. These are approximations, and do not include return to exercise.

When can I resume regular exercise?

The time a patient resumes regular exercises varies based on the operation performed. All patients are encouraged to start a slow walking routine on the second postoperative day. Regular aerobic and more vigorous activities are not allowed during the first 2 weeks in order to decrease the risks of bleeding, swelling, and bruising. Weight lifting and contact sports are allowed at 1 month in most cases.

What can be done to reduce the appearance of scars after plastic surgery?

All surgery creates scars. But there are ways to minimize the appearance of scars. Deep sutures, for example, keep tension off the surface of wounds and help keep scars thin. Scars can be placed as inconspicuously as possible.

Is financing available for plastic surgery?

Yes, many plastic surgery practices offer plastic surgery financing. This is often a very convenient way to pay for your cosmetic surgery procedure. Sometimes the payments can be made over the course of several years, and the monthly payments might be very reasonable. Other plans include three or six months "same as cash" plans in which there is not an interest payment at all so long as you pay back the amount within the specified period.