Sometimes gaining the best initial understanding and familiarity with something comes merely from knowing what words have already been created to describe both the good and bad within that subject.
When bad things happen over time, we give them names: Words. When good things happen, we also name them. More words.
These 50 words are particular. They’re words that you should be at least vaguely aware of before going in for surgery.
As you browse Aesthetic Report, you’ll also find the repeated use of various terms and phrases, such as board-certified, fellowship-trained, and much more. You should be aware of these terms since they have specific meanings and connotations in plastic surgery.
This glossary provides a comprehensive definition of many of the terms most commonly used in plastic surgery.
Abdominoplasty, rhytidectomy, otoplasty, oh my!
Let’s dive into 50 words that every plastic surgery patient should be aware of.
Potential Surgical Complications
Water bubble under skin after surgery: The collection or accumulation of fluid in part of the body as a result of surgery. Seromas are rarely dangerous but can cause pain and discomfort. Seromas occur most frequently after drains are taken out or within about 7-10 days after surgery, even if no drains were used. If a seroma is red, warm, or tender to the touch, contact your surgeon quickly.
The formation of an enclosure, or capsule, of scar tissue around a breast implant or other artificial implant placed in the body. Capsules are a normal and healthy part of the healing process after any implant is placed, yet problems such as capsular contracture may affect them.
A complication that occurs after breast augmentation surgery in which the otherwise natural scar tissue that forms around an implant constricts, tightens, and squeezes the implants. Depending on the degree of capsular contracture, a woman with breast implants may feel pain and discomfort, tight and firm breasts, asymmetry, and an abnormal shape of the breasts.
If or when a silicone or silicone-gel breast implant ruptures (tears), a “silent rupture” has occurred. Silent ruptures are called silent because the patient and others (such as one’s friends, family, significant others, and even one’s doctor), are unlikely to know that any rupture has occurred if the ruptured implants are silicone or silicone-gel, rather than saline-filled.
When saline-filled breast implants tear or rupture, their sterile saltwater contents spill out of the implant (usually rather quickly) and are absorbed by the body. Such a saline implant rupture would be very apparent, whereas a silicone or silicone gel implant rupture would be virtually imperceptible. When a silent rupture occurs, the content(s) of the breast implant do still escape and leak out into the breasts and/or body but because the silicone is less liquid and more cohesive, detection to the naked eye is usually impossible. Thus, silent rupture.
Breast implant illness
A term used to describe a large number of varied systemic symptoms and adverse health conditions affecting women who have breast implants. Persons affected with breast implant illness, or “BII,” may have either saline or silicone implants. While research is ongoing into breast implant illness and its exact causes (including why some patients experience it and others don’t), the phenomena has received widespread media coverage and in recent years has caused fewer women to undergo breast augmentation surgery and more women to undergo explant surgery each year.
An embolism or fat embolism occurs when fat enters and then blocks a blood vessel. An embolism in the lungs can block oxygen from entering the bloodstream, and an embolism in the brain can cause a stroke. Fat embolisms occur most frequently during Brazilian butt lift surgery, though numerous safety protocols and techniques exist to greatly reduce the chance of this and other complications during or after a BBL.
Abdominoplasty is the more technical term for a tummy tuck [abdomino- (abdomen) + -plasty (“plastic surgery”)]. It removes excess skin and fat from the mid to lower abdomen, and tightens the muscle and fascia of the abdominal wall.
The fancier term for a facelift. The procedure removes some of the facial skin in order to tighten it. There are several types of facelift, with each addressing a different level or layer of the subdermal skin, fascia, and muscle of the face.
The technical term for cosmetic ear surgery. Patients as young as 5 to 7 years old often undergo this surgery in order to reduce the size of their ears and correcting their position, such as by moving them closer to the head so they don’t stick out as far.
Rhinoplasty is the more technical term for a nose job. Rhinoplasty may be done either surgically or nonsurgically, with the surgical option producing longer-lasting results and being able to make broader changes to the shape and structure of the nose. Nonsurgical rhinoplasty is also a viable option for patients who wish to temporarily correct a limited range of factors or perceived cosmetic problems in their nose.
Arm lift surgery. A surgery done to reduce the volume of excess skin and tissue in the upper arms.
Surgery done to lift the breasts. If increased breast volume or size is also desired, breast augmentation surgery will also be required.
Qualifications & Credentials
Dr. vs. M.D.
Dr., short for doctor, has two meanings in popular contemporary usage—a person licensed to practice medicine, or a doctor of philosophy.
As such, Dr. is a broad term that doesn’t necessarily connote medical specialty. Sure, individuals with the prefix “Dr.” may specialize in medicine, but they may also specialize in anthropology, history, or other non-medical fields.
M.D., short for Medical Doctor, carries far more weight because it can only be used by doctors of medicine. An individual earns the right to use the initials after passing from medical school and completing at least one residency program in their medical field.
Cosmetic Surgeon vs. Plastic Surgeon
Cosmetic surgeons specialize in cosmetic surgery, i.e., surgeries focused entirely on improving aesthetic appeal, symmetry, and overall appearance. These include breast enhancement, facial contouring, body contouring, skin rejuvenation, and other elective procedures that aren’t medically/ functionally necessary.
Plastic surgeons specialize in plastic surgery, i.e., surgeries focused on functional reconstruction or repairing defects. These include breast reconstructions, burn repair surgeries, hand surgeries, scar revision, and other reconstructive procedures. Plastic surgeons can also provide cosmetic surgeries for aesthetic purposes.
After graduating from medical school, doctors and surgeons must complete mandatory internships, residencies, and additional medical education and pass state-licensed examinations to practice. All specialists who complete these steps can practice in their respective fields.
However, some surgeons choose to undergo a rigorous certification process in one or more specialties within dermatology or surgery. This necessitates further sub-specialty training, and they must pass additional examinations for their sub-specialties.
As such, board-certified surgeons/ doctors are specialists with advanced training in their respective fields. While all specialists can perform plastic surgery, board-certified plastic surgeons are held to higher standards and promise better results.
A board-eligible plastic surgeon is someone who has completed the requirements for admission to a sub-specialty board examination but has not yet received certification. Plastic surgeons must complete several years of residencies, fellowships, or advanced surgical training in their chosen sub-specialties to become board eligible.
A board-eligible plastic surgeon can initiate the certification process, but they’re not yet board-certified.
Fellowship training is necessary when general physicians want to become specialists in a specific field, such as microsurgery or craniofacial surgery. During the fellowship training, the physician (known as a fellow) trains closely with a specialist in a subspecialty program. As such, fellowship-trained doctors are experts and leaders in their chosen fields.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world’s largest plastic surgery specialty organization, currently representing 93% of the board-certified plastic surgeons in the U.S. Its primary aim is to encourage the highest standards of physician practice, ethics, and research in plastic surgery. ASPS-certified plastic surgeons represent the highest standards of care.
American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)
The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is an independent, nonprofit organization committed to ensuring the highest standards of care and ethics in plastic surgery. Plastic surgeons must undergo advanced education, examination, and certifications with continued training to receive and maintain their certifications.
If you have plastic surgery, it should be done by a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAACH)
The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAACH) provides accreditation for ambulatory health care to office-based surgery facilities, ambulatory surgery centers, endoscopy centers, medical and dental practices, etc. AAACH-accredited organizations follow nationally recognized standards and provide high-quality services to their patients.
If you have plastic surgery, it should be done in a hospital, or a AAACH-accredited surgical facility.
American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is one of the leading organizations for physician board certification in the U.S. Physicians must undergo a rigorous process of board certification to demonstrate their competence and professionalism. ABMS-certified physicians provide the highest standards of care in their sub-specialties, such as dermatology, plastic surgery, anesthesiology, and more.
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), also known as The Aesthetic Society, is the leading organization of plastic surgeons specializing in cosmetic plastic surgery of the face and body. A physician can only join the ranks of ASAPS surgeons if they’re certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Furthermore, only one-fourth of all ABPS-certified surgeons are accepted into ASAPS membership.
Revision surgery is performed to replace, reverse, compensate, or correct the results of the primary surgery. A revision breast augmentation might be performed if the breast implant fails or ruptures, necessitating breast implant replacement. A revision rhinoplasty might be performed if the primary procedure leads to undesired aesthetic results or difficulty with breathing.
You can help reduce the likelihood of your needing revision surgery by: a) extreme due diligence, b) selecting only a board-certified plastic surgeon, c) adhering to pre- and post–operative care guidelines.
An outpatient treatment is one that doesn’t necessitate an overnight hospital stay after the procedure. For example, liposuction is often performed as an outpatient surgery since the patient can return home the same day.