You may have several cosmetic surgery or procedure options to enhance or restore your appearance. Talking with your doctor can help you choose the option that best fits your needs.
Common cosmetic procedures
- Laser resurfacing uses a laser light to heat, damage, or destroy the upper layers of the skin. This can tighten the skin or cause new skin to grow. It is typically used to remove or improve the appearance of wrinkles, brown spots, shallow scars (from acne, surgery, or trauma), and sometimes, the appearance of small veins. Tattoos are removed with surgery or a laser that breaks down the color into fragments. These fragments are removed by your immune system.
- Chemical peel uses a chemical solution to remove the top layers of skin, allowing new skin to grow. It is most often used to remove wrinkles, superficial skin growths, shallow scars, pigment changes in the skin, and other skin problems.
- Dermabrasion uses a fine wire brush or a diamond wheel with rough edges to remove the upper layers of the skin, allowing new skin to grow. It may be used to treat acne scars and wrinkles around the mouth or to treat an enlarged nose (rhinophyma) caused by rosacea (facial inflammation and redness).
- Collagen and other filler injections are used to smooth wrinkles or pitted scars in the skin. They are also used to make the lips fuller. When injected under the skin, a filler raises or puffs up that area. This goes away with time.
- Botox injections use a protein that weakens the muscles of the face to reduce wrinkles. The effect is temporary, lasting 3 to 4 months on average.
- Sclerotherapy reduces or removes the appearance of small varicose veins and spider veins. In sclerotherapy, a chemical is injected into a vein to damage and scar the inside lining of the vein, which causes the vein to close.
- Electrolysis and laser hair removal permanently remove unwanted hair such as facial hair. In electrolysis, an electric current is applied to the hair root, which heats and destroys the hair follicle. In laser hair removal, light treatments are used to heat and destroy hair follicles. Hair is not able to grow back in this area.
- Medical tattooing uses tattoo ink to change the look of a medical problem. For example, it can be used after breast surgery to create the look of a darker nipple and areola. Medical tattooing can also be used to darken white skin patches (vitiligo) and scarred skin.
Common cosmetic surgeries
- Face-lift (rhytidectomy) removes excess skin and fat and tightens the muscles to smooth the face. Improvement is especially seen along the jawline and in the neck.
- Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) removes excess skin, fat, and muscles from the eyelids to correct drooping eyelids and remove bags and puffiness. Surgery may be done on the upper and lower lids.
- "Nose job" (rhinoplasty) reshapes the nose by removing or rearranging its cartilage and bones. Rhinoplasty is done to change the appearance of your nose, improve breathing and nasal function, or achieve a combination of both.
- Breast enlargement (augmentation) places an implant under the breast tissue or the chest muscle to make the breast larger.
- Breast reduction removes excess breast tissue and skin to reshape and lift the breast. Women may seek breast reduction to change their appearance, reduce back pain, and reduce limitations of activities caused by large breasts.
- Liposuction uses suction to remove stubborn fat that has not gone away with a healthy weight loss diet and exercise. For women, this can be on the outer or inner thighs, neck, upper arms, belly, knees, and hips. For men, this can be on the waist, belly, neck, breasts, or back. The purpose of liposuction is to reshape the area rather than to reduce body weight. If you are trying to lose weight, it is not a substitute for exercise and a balanced diet. If you regain weight after having liposuction, the fatty bulges that were removed may return.
- "Tummy tuck" (abdominoplasty) removes excess skin and fat from the abdominal area and tightens abdominal muscles. When a large weight loss or several pregnancies leave behind extra folds of skin, some people use this surgery for a flatter, smoother stomach. As with liposuction, the purpose of a tummy tuck is to reshape the area rather than to reduce body weight.
- Varicose vein surgery removes large varicose veins. During varicose vein surgery, an incision is made over the varicose vein, and the vein is tied off and either left in place or removed. But newer therapies for vein stripping include foam sclerotherapy and laser or radiofrequency probes that use heat to destroy varicose veins.
- Hair transplant surgery reduces the appearance of bald spots or hair loss by moving hair from one part of the head to another.
Although death is very rare after liposuction, a tummy tuck, or any cosmetic surgery, it can happen. If you are having a large amount of fat removed, are obese, have more than one procedure done at the same time, or have health problems, your risks go up. You may be watched closely for several hours or overnight after liposuction or a tummy tuck. Staying in the hospital is sometimes best.1