Patients often have many similar questions regarding plastic surgery. Here are some common questions and answers.
What is Plastic Surgery?
Taken from the Greek word "plastikos," meaning to mold or give form, plastic surgery is the specialty of medicine dedicated to restoring and reshaping the human body. It encompasses both reconstructive surgery, which is performed on abnormal structures of the body caused by birth defects, developmental problems, injuries, infection, tumors, or disease; and cosmetic surgery, which is performed to reshape or restore normal structures of the body to improve appearance and self-esteem.
History suggests that the practice of plastic surgery has ancient roots. However, plastic surgery as a defined specialty became fully recognized during World War I. Today, scientific advances in the field allow plastic surgeons to achieve improvements in form and function thought to be impossible 10 years ago.
Is plastic surgery safe?
All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk. However, plastic surgery procedures are normally safe when they're performed by a qualified, experienced board-certified physician. It is important for patients to disclose all pertinent medical history to the surgeon, so that a true assessment of any surgical risks can be made.
What factors impact the success of surgery?
A patient's age, skin type, general health, genetic background, and the nature of his or her condition can all affect any final result. Patients who smoke may not heal as quickly as non-smoking patients. Patients with sun-damaged skin may not achieve the same degree of improvement as those without sun-damaged skin. Though there is no way to exactly predict a surgical outcome, the surgeon will examine the known patient variables before surgery begins and can project an estimate of the surgical result. Patients can take comfort in knowing that most of the procedures performed today have been refined over several decades.
Am I an appropriate candidate for plastic surgery?
If you are considering plastic surgery, you must be honest with yourself. Exactly why do you want surgery? And, what are your goals for surgery-what do you expect plastic surgery to do for you?
There are two categories of patients who are good candidates for surgery. The first includes patients with a strong self-image, who are bothered by a physical characteristic that they'd like to improve or change. After surgery, these patients feel good about the results and maintain a positive image about themselves.
The second category includes patients who have a physical defect or cosmetic flaw that has diminished their self-esteem over time. These patients may adjust rather slowly after surgery, as rebuilding confidence takes time. However, as they adjust, these patients' self-image is strengthened, sometimes dramatically.
It's important to remember that plastic surgery can create both physical changes and and changes in self-esteem. If you are seeking surgery with the hope of influencing a change in someone other than yourself, you might end up disappointed. It's possible that friends and loved ones will respond positively to your change in appearance and self-confidence, however understand and accept that plastic surgery will not cause dramatic changes in people other than you.
Will my surgery be covered by insurance?
Reconstructive surgery is covered by most health insurance policies, although the specifics of coverage may vary greatly. Some carriers may fully cover reconstructive procedures, others may pay only a portion of the cost.
Cosmetic surgery, however, is usually not covered by health insurance because it is elective and not considered a medical necessity. Some plastic surgeons accept major credit cards or offer financing programs that allow patients to make manageable monthly payments for cosmetic surgery.
Keep in mind that there are a number of "gray areas" in plastic surgery that sometimes require special consideration by an insurance carrier. For example, eyelid surgery -- a procedure normally performed to achieve cosmetic improvement -- may be covered if drooping eyelids obscure a patient's vision. In assessing whether the procedure will be covered, the carrier often looks at the primary reason the procedure is being performed: is it for relief of symptoms or for aesthetic improvement?
What effect can plastic surgery have on my self-image after surgery?
Each of us has a "self-image," a perception of how we believe we look to others. People who are happy with their self-image are more likely to be self-confident, effective in work and social situations, and comfortable in their relationships. Those who are dissatisfied tend to be self-conscious, inhibited, and less effective in activities.
Plastic surgery -- whether cosmetic or reconstructive -- encourages and promotes a strong, positive self-image. Even a small change on the outside can create an extraordinary change on the inside, allowing an individual's self-confidence to flourish.
* Information on this page provided by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.