Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic Surgery: An Overview Image

“Cosmetic surgery” refers to an elective surgical procedure preformed to alter a patient’s appearance. As opposed to plastic surgery, cosmetic surgery isn’t performed to restore bodily function or correct a physical disfigurement, but instead, reverses the signs of aging or otherwise enhances a patient’s appearance for aesthetic purposes.

A wide range of cosmetic surgery procedures are available today, from major tummy tuck surgery to fast-recovery BOTOX® injections designed to help patients look and feel better about themselves. Cosmetic surgery isn’t just for women any more—many men see cosmetic surgeons to improve or maintain their appearance.

While many misconceptions about cosmetic/plastic surgery still exist, the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS) emphasizes that cosmetic surgery is a unique subspecialty of cosmetic/plastic surgery devoted to maintaining, restoring or enhancing normal appearance through surgical and medical techniques. Some common cosmetic surgery procedures are listed below.


A rhinoplasty is a cosmetic surgery procedure in which the size and shape of the nose is enhanced and brought into better harmony with the rest of the face. This cosmetic plastic surgery operation involves sculpting the nose by carefully contouring the underlying bone and cartilage that gives the nose its shape.

Facial Cosmetic/Plastic Surgery

Facial cosmetic surgery includes a range of procedures that includes:

  • Chemical peels
  • Dermabrasion
  • Laser resurfacing
  • Thermage (a relatively new non-surgical technique requiring no incisions).
  • All of these procedures allow cosmetic surgeons to change the appearance of skin damaged by acne, scarring and overexposure to the sun.

Body Contouring

The phrase “body contouring” covers a wide range of cosmetic surgery procedures aimed at changing the shape of the body. Some of the most popular body contouring procedures include:

  • Abdominoplasty, or “tummy tuck” surgery: Tummy tuck surgery is designed to reshape a sagging abdomen by removing excess skin and fat and tightening abdominal muscles.
  • Breast enhancements and reductions: Cosmetic surgeons can reduce or enlarge the size of the breasts during a cosmetic surgery procedure.
  • Liposuction: Liposuction involves surgically removing fat from any location in the body (commonly the abdomen, buttocks and thighs).

Face Lifts and BOTOX® Injections

As people age, the skin of the face loses strength and elasticity, and underlying facial muscles weaken and lose tone. In addition, fluctuating weight, sun exposure and stress can accentuate the appearance of wrinkles and contribute to premature aging of the face. Facelift cosmetic surgery removes excess fatty deposits and skin and tightens facial muscles to improve the most visible signs of aging.

BOTOX® injections, while not technically surgical, address the frown lines and deep wrinkles that appear around the eyes and forehead by selectively weakening facial muscles in these areas.

Other Plastic/Cosmetic Surgery Procedures

Along with the procedures listed above, there are hundreds of other plastic surgery procedures available today. These include hair restoration, deep reconstructive surgery, dental cosmetic surgery—even eyelash therapy, which is a cosmetic plastic surgery procedures usually reserved for accident victims.

Plastic Surgery Considerations

Plastic surgery is something that needs to be carefully considered, as its results are permanent. Careful consideration involves choosing your cosmetic surgeon wisely, and reviewing each potential surgeon’s education, training, experience, and practice history.

In your initial meeting with your surgeon, ask a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid to seek referrals and look at before-and-after pictures. By consulting with your doctor, you can begin to define your personal vision of beauty and make informed decisions about cosmetic plastic surgery and enhancement.


American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. (n.d.) Choose your cosmetic surgeon as you would any other healthcare provider. Retrieved June 29. 2010, from

American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. (n.d.) Criteria brochure.Retrieved June 29, 2010, from

Be Wise About Beauty (n.d.) Frequently asked questions. Retrieved June 29, 2010, from