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Plastic Surgery Techniques and Procedures

Updated on November 1, 2009

Plastic surgeons are usually thought of as performing face lifts, tucking in sagging tummies, and cosmetically improving the appearance of vain movie stars, reality show celebrity and anyone with enough money to throw at the operation.

In fact, the major part of their work is the time-consuming surgery required to correct the gross disfigurement caused by serious burns and the intricate correction of the serious deformities that some children have at birth. They also play a major role in helping patients recover from disfiguring surgery that may be performed for cancer of the face, breast or other areas. Breast reconstruction after removal of a breast for cancer can help a woman recover both physically and psychologically. These surgeons join with dental and ENT surgeons to correct gross facial abnormalities (facio-maxillary surgery), correct harelips, cleft palates and abnormal noses and ears that may lead to social embarrassment. Birth marks and skin blemishes can also be reduced or removed.

Unfortunately, despite their skills and techniques of operating through very small holes and in areas where scars will not easily show, even plastic surgeons leave some scar behind when they operate. It is important for a patient to be aware of these limitations before undergoing any form of plastic surgery.

One of the most common cosmetic operations is breast enlargement. If you're built like Kate Moss and want to be like Katie Price- forget it! But if you're a 32A and would like to be a 34B, then plastic surgery to increase your bust may interest you. Women desiring this operation fall into two broad groups: 1) those who were born with small breasts, and 2) those who have suffered a sagging or shrinkage of the breasts after breastfeeding or with age. There are also those who require breast reconstruction after surgery for breast cancer.

The operation involves a two or three day stay in hospital. Techniques vary from one surgeon to another, but normally a small cut is made under each breast, and through this a plastic bag of silicone gel is inserted as a prosthesis to increase the size and improve the shape of the breast. Often a small tube is left behind in the wound to drain off excess fluids that may accumulate. Bandages are tightly bound around the chest and breasts, so that when you wake after the general anesthetic, you feel as if an elephant is sitting on your chest.

Recovery is normally at home, and the patient should rest for a week to ten days after the operation before returning to normal duties. The stitches are taken out in two stages about one and two weeks after the operation. After six weeks the breasts feel and look completely natural, and the tiny scar is hidden under the breast fold when you stand so that the briefest bikini can be worn.

Complications are unusual and are normally those of other types of surgery, such as bleeding and infection. The most common post-operative problem is breast capsule contraction. This occurs months after the procedure and is caused by the body laying down too much fibrous tissue around the implant, which results in the breast feeling firmer than normal. The treatment for this is called 'popping' and involves squeezing the breast so that the fibrous tissue tears, freeing up the prosthesis and softening the breast.

Breast augmentation is a relatively painless procedure. There has never been any link demonstrated between this operation and the development of breast cancer, you can still breastfeed after the operation, and you should still check yourself routinely for breast lumps. Except in special cases, plastic surgery in the UK, plastic surgery in Australia and plastic surgery in the US isn't covered by NHS, Medicare or Medicaid. Also private health insurance organizations may not cover any part of the cost.

Please Note:


  • The information provided on this page is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a registered physician or other healthcare professional.

  • The content of this page is intended only to provide a summary and general overview. Do not use this information to disregard medical advice, nor to delay seeking medical advice.

  • Be sure to consult with your doctor for a professional diagnosis and appropriate medical treatment.

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