The decision to get facial plastic surgery isn’t one most people take lightly, nor should they. It’s major surgery, and you have to weigh the pros and cons. For some people, facial plastic surgery is needed for reconstruction after an accident. For example, people who are in motorcycle accidents may require reconstructive surgery. Other people may need it to fix something functionally—for example, a deviated septum.
Then, there’s elective plastic surgery.
Regardless of the category someone falls into, the following are things they should know.
COSMETIC VS. PLASTIC SURGERY
While the names are often used interchangeably, there’s actually a difference between cosmetic and plastic surgery. Cosmetic surgery is focused on enhancing a patient’s appearance. There are no other objectives beyond that with cosmetic surgery. For example, cosmetic surgery might be used to increase proportion and symmetry. Examples of cosmetic surgery include chin and cheek enhancement, rhinoplasty, facelift, brow lift, and tummy tuck. Plastic surgery is intended to bring normal function and appearance by repairing defects.
Some of the reasons someone might need plastic surgery were touched on above briefly and can include trauma, birth disorders, and burns.
Plastic surgery is reconstructive and can include breast reconstruction, burn repair surgery, scar revision surgery, and reconstruction of lower extremities.
FACIAL RECONSTRUCTIVE PROCEDURES
Again, facial reconstructive surgeries can help function and appearance. It can be a good idea to look for a facial plastic surgeon who is certified in both otolaryngology and facial plastic surgery. Otolaryngology is head and neck surgery. When a surgeon is certified in both, they have experience rebuilding key structures but they can also aim for the best aesthetic outcome. Some of the specific facial reconstructive procedures that are most common include:
- Cleft lip and palate repair: This is commonly done in children and often infants. It’s a very specialized type of surgery, and reconstructive surgeons tend to have extensive experience and specialize in this particular area.
- Complex facial reconstruction: Sometimes patients with advanced skin cancer of the face and neck or traumatic injuries to the same areas may need complex facial reconstruction because of extensive tissue loss.
- Otoplasty: This is a reconstructive surgery to shape ears. Tissue loss to the ears can occur because of surgery or trauma, or it can occur at birth. It does not restore hearing ability.
Facial plastic surgery can also include re-animation when a patient has paralysis.
WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE FACIAL COSMETIC SURGERY
When it comes to plastic surgery that is reconstructive in nature, you may not have a choice as to whether or not you do it. The benefits can greatly outweigh the risks, but this isn’t always the case with cosmetic surgery. You do have to think carefully about whether or not it’s worth it to you. A facelift is one popular type of facial cosmetic surgery. For most people, recovery can occur within six weeks. The risks can include bleeding during surgery, and there are always risks of general anesthesia, but particularly if you have health conditions like diabetes or obesity.
If you’re thinking about cosmetic surgery, you will have to talk to your doctor about their experience performing the particular type of procedure you’re considering and how often they perform it. You’ll need to know how long it will take, the medications and other substances you should avoid before surgery, and how long they anticipate it will be before you can return to your normal daily activities.
Finally, another reason people get facial plastic surgery is because of skin cancer. If you have skin cancer on your face or neck, including squamous and basal cell carcinoma or melanoma, you may have to get it removed. There’s a specific type of surgery called Mohs surgery, which is often used for skin cancer removal. This can leave serious scars and other aesthetic issues, and people may do reconstructive surgery for that reason.
In this situation, reconstructive options include local tissue rearrangement and skin grafts, which are relatively simple. There are also more complex procedures such as the transfer of bone, skin, and cartilage to bring back facial symmetry and balance.
Any time you get surgery, it is a big deal with a lot of factors that go into making a decision and this certainly includes facial surgery, whether cosmetic or plastic. Being comfortable with your surgeon is a good way to have your questions answered and feel confident about the process.