10 Myths Surrounding Plastic Surgery
- 26 February 2016
As with any medical procedure, it is not uncommon for people to misunderstand plastic surgery based on what they may have heard from someone they know, read in a magazine or seen online.
In the case of plastic surgery, often times the misconceptions come in the form of over-simplifying a procedure, over-complicating a procedure, falsifying the end result or that the sole purpose of plastic surgery is designed to do something it is not, such as give a person instant weight loss.
10 myths surrounding plastic surgery include:
Liposuction equals instant weight loss
Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty, is a popular cosmetic surgery procedure, and while it does remove fat from unwanted areas it is not an instant weight loss solution. In fact, many plastic surgeons question their patient’s health and lifestyle prior to committing to the surgery. Patients must be committed and making an attempt to eat well and exercise on a regular basis. As well, it is important for those who do undergo liposuction to sustain a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
If a patient were to stop eating a healthy diet and stopped exercising they would more than likely gain weight, which will negate the results from liposuction. Instead of thinking of liposuction as instant weight loss, consider it for what it is – a procedure that complements a commitment to a healthy lifestyle and a way to tackle stubborn fat pockets that will not disappear regardless of diet and exercise.
Having a liposuction procedure does not mean that fat will disappear forever in the surgical area or that fat won’t reappear in other areas of the body. If a patient gains weight following this procedure then fat can reappear, so a healthy lifestyle before and after a procedure is highly recommended.
It is also important to note that having a tummy tuck and liposuction are not the same thing. A tummy tuck is designed to remove excess skin and tissue from the abdomen. A liposuction procedure removes fat that is located underneath the skin in the abdomen, but is above the muscles that are a part of the stomach. While they are sometimes performed together, patients do not necessarily have to have both procedures. However, depending on the patient, both a tummy tuck and liposuction may be required to optimize the overall success and achieve the patient’s desired appearance. This is typically determined through consultation appointments.
Plastic surgery will not leave scars
If skin is cut the probability of a scar forming is highly likely. A good plastic surgeon will do their best to leave a minimal scar or leave the most unobtrusive scarring possible, but for a patient to have the expectation that they won’t see a trace of their procedure is completely unrealistic.
If scarring is something a patient is resistant to then they may want to research non-surgical cosmetic surgery procedures, which will have a minimal chance for scarring.
Plastic surgery will leave a lot of scars
The number of scars, as well as the length and width of a scar depends on the procedure as well as a patient’s skin’s elasticity and other factors that a qualified plastic surgeon will discuss with a patient prior to surgery.
For example, with a breast augmentation procedure there are three incisions made: one just above the breast crease, one around the lower edge of the areola, and one in the armpit.
The size of these scars will depend on a number of factors including the skin’s elasticity and the size of the patient’s breasts. As with all cosmetic surgery procedures, a good surgeon will go over these details with a patient prior to surgery so that the patient fully understands what scars to expect and where to expect them.
Breast augmentation is good for life
On average, breast implants will last 10 to 15 years – sometimes longer and sometimes shorter. Depending on the quality they can last as long as 25 years! The lifespan of a breast implant depends on the patient, the patient’s lifestyle and sometimes a patient’s desire for an upgrade to gel or the desire to have a larger (or smaller) sized implant.
Through normal, every day activities, implants will move and shift within the body and over time may wear down and require replacement. A patient will know when their implant needs replacing because their implant will gradually decrease in size (generally an indication that the implant is progressively leaking). Symptoms also include breast tingling, pain, numbness or swelling. If a patient suspects that their breast implant has ruptured or needs to be replaced they should contact their doctor immediately. The good news is that breast implants may not be good for life, but they can be replaced.
There is also a myth that breast implants increase a woman’s chance of breast cancer. Breast implants are safe. There is currently no medical evidence to support the claim that implants cause cancer or increase breast cancer risks; however patients should continue routine screenings for breast cancer, just as they would without implants.
Botox has to be injected weekly to work
While it is true that Botox treatments are not permanent, results of treatment typically last three to four months. The more regularly a patient has injections, the longer the results will last since the muscles have been immobilized for a long period of time, but once Botox use is discontinued, lines and wrinkles will gradually return to their initial appearance prior to Botox injections.
Botox does not make wrinkles appear worse once the treatment has worn off – that’s simply another myth.
Plastic surgery is only for celebrities
While most plastic surgery procedures are considered pricey, plastic surgery is not just for celebrities. While it is true that a celebrity may be able to afford cosmetic procedures more so than the average citizen, and perhaps have easier access to a reputable medical facility, anyone can have plastic surgery.
If a man or woman has a specific cosmetic surgery procedure in mind then they should first research the procedure to see if it is right for them. Then they should find a reputable facility and plastic surgeon and book a consultation. Once they know the cost, the facility may have payment plans or offer advice on how to make the procedure cost effective. While it is not advisable to go into debt for plastic surgery, saving for it (much as you would an exotic vacation) can be rewarding and as something to look forward to!
Plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are the same thing
While the terms plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are used interchangeably, the procedures ultimately have different goals.
Cosmetic surgery focuses on enhancing appearances, and while cosmetic surgery can take place on the face, neck and body (just as plastic surgery can), it is considered elective because generally the procedure is not deemed medically necessary. Breast enhancement procedures, tummy tucks, spider vein treatments, facial contouring, facial rejuvenation and body contouring procedures fall under the cosmetic surgery umbrella.
In contrast, plastic surgery focuses on repairing defects or reconstructing areas of the body. Plastic surgery originates from the term reconstructive surgery and began with the treatment of people affected by birth disorders, trauma, disease and burns. While many plastic surgeons choose to complete and practice other areas of plastic surgery, reconstructive and plastic surgeons are considered one and the same by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Plastic surgery procedures include: breast reconstruction, burn repair, scar revision surgery, congenital defect repair surgery, as well as numerous other surgical procedures.
It is important to note that if someone simply claims to be a “cosmetic” surgeon a patient should verify their education and be sure they are verified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. More often than not, someone claiming to simply be a Cosmetic Surgeon means they are not certified, nor are he or she real medical surgeons.
Plastic surgery is only for women
While the majority of cosmetic and plastic surgery patients are women, many men choose to undergo cosmetic procedures as well. Men will undergo liposuction to get rid of love handles or to repair a sagging chest and flatten their stomach. This procedure is particularly popular for men who have undergone bariatric surgery and have lost an enormous amount of weight. These same men may also have excess skin removed and tightened.
Another popular plastic surgery procedure for men is male breast reduction (gynecomastia). Forty to sixty percent of the male population has “women-like” breasts that are sometimes caused by medical conditions or medications and other times are simply hereditary. Men of any age may find they are feeling insecure about their physical appearance and undergo male breast reduction surgery to remove the excessive tissue, fat and skin so that they can feel confident and comfortable with their body.
Other popular plastic surgery for men includes: a nose job (rhinoplasty), eyelid lifts, hair transplants and laser therapy for snoring.
Plastic surgery is only for preventing aging
As mentioned above, plastic surgery is more of a reconstructive procedure and is not meant as an anti-aging procedure. While it is true that procedures such as an eyelid lift can make a person look more alert and younger, the procedure is sometimes necessary for a person to have unobstructed sight, and a breast reduction may be necessary to ease a woman’s chronic back and neck pain.
While cosmetic surgery procedures may be more for aesthetic appeal, plastic surgery can be meant for a medical purpose, but in the process can make someone look younger.
Regardless of the procedure, aging is not preventable. Cosmetic procedures can prolong a youthful appearance and help delay the appearance of aging, but inevitable everyone ages.
A plastic surgeon isn’t a real doctor
Qualified plastic surgeons are medical doctors. A plastic surgeon must begin their career with a four-year undergraduate program, usually with a major in science or a related discipline. They must then apply and attend medical school, which typically lasts another eight years. Plastic surgeons specialize in plastic surgery while in medical school and continue to receive a high level of specialized medical training. In the United States, a practicing plastic surgeon must be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In essence, a qualified plastic surgeon will spend approximately 14 years in school before they will begin practicing.
Like all professional careers, just because someone holds a diploma in something, does not mean they are the best person to work with. To choose a plastic surgeon ensure they are in good standing with the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Patients should also verify any credentials and training that their chosen plastic surgeon claims to have.
The best way to find a good plastic surgeon is through word of mouth and personal recommendation. And make sure that it isn’t just the plastic surgeon that is good – ensure his or her entire team is qualified. For example, make sure the anesthesiologist is well trained and properly certified.
When thinking about plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures, it is important to remember that as long as people gossip there will always be myths and misconceptions surrounding these procedures. Plastic surgery may be intimating for some people because plastic surgery is not necessarily a required medical procedure. Because of this intimidation, some people may feel overwhelmed by the misconceptions and possible side effects and feed on the fears of others.
Even though plastic surgery is generally an elective procedure, qualified plastic surgeons still have a patient’s overall health in mind during every surgery. Before committing to any surgical procedure a patient should always feel comfortable and secure with their surgical team. Make sure to book an in-person consultation with your plastic surgery team, get to know the medical facility and ask any questions prior to surgery – doing so offers peace of mind.
As always, patients should do their research before spending any money and shouldn’t listen to the fear mongers who only have negative things to say about something they don’t otherwise understand or experienced. It is also important to have realistic expectations of any cosmetic or plastic surgery procedure and to know that while plastic surgery can be transformative, it is not magic or a miracle worker.