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Glossary for Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery

When you first start looking into plastic and cosmetic surgery, the language that is used can be quite intimidating. Many surgeons go to great length to explain what these terms mean, but if you are like me, all that information can be too much to take in at once. The solution – a friendly glossary to help make sense of things.

We have included some of the every-day terms too, so next time you hear a comment about the ‘muffin top’ you’ll know that the medical terminology is Abdominal Lipodystrophy. Read on and you will discover that one procedure used to address it is Abdominoplasty which you may know as a Tummy Tuck.

Plastic Surgery is a serious decision and here at the Plastic Surgery Hub we encourage you to learn as much about your procedure as possible. This glossary is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice from your qualified surgeon or specialist.


A

Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) – a surgical procedure to flatten the belly and reduce the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.  It can tighten the muscles in the abdomen and may remove stretchmarks, excess skin and fat.  Generally the navel is removed an repositioned too.

ACCS (Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery) – The college was first formed in 1999 after evolving from the Australian Association of Cosmetic Surgery. This college has a single focus on training doctors on cosmetic procedures and offers formal training and accreditation specifically in cosmetic surgery. The college accredits doctors as cosmetic physicians or cosmetic surgeons depending on the particular training that they have received. A doctor who is a Fellow of the ACCS will have the initials FACCS after their name.

Anaesthesia Sickness – Also known as post-operative nausea and vomiting (POVN), anaesthesia sickness affects approximately one-third of patients who have had an anaesthetic during surgery.

Areola – The pigmented area of skin on the breasts which surrounds the nipple.

Arm Lift (Brachioplasty) – a surgical procedure to remove loose skin and excess fatty deposits on the upper arm.

ASAPS (Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) – The ASAPS is a society of Plastic Surgeons all of whom are Fellows of the RACS.  The primary function of the society is the promotion of excellence in aesthetic (cosmetic) plastic surgery.

ASPS (Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons) – The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons is the only society recognised by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons as the legitimate professional body representing the field of cosmetic surgery in Australia. Not all doctors who practice cosmetic surgery are Fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Only doctors who are members of the RACS are able to have the initials ASPS after their name.

Augmentation Mammoplasty (Breast Augmentation) – a surgical procedure to increase the size of the breast.


B

Bilateral gynecomastia – the enlargement of both breasts in men.

Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) – a surgical procedure involving the removal of excess skin and fatty tissue from the upper or lower eyelids.  Reduces bagginess from the lower eyelids, or drooping from the upper eyelids.

Botox – a trade name for the neurotoxic protein “botulinum toxin”, used for various cosmetic and medical procedures.

Brachioplasty (arm lift) – a surgical procedure to remove loose skin and excess fatty deposits on the upper arm.

Breast Augmentation (Augmentation Mammoplasty) – a surgical procedure to increase the size of the breast.

Breast Implants – a medical prosthesis which is used to create the form of a breast.  Used to augment or reconstruct the breast.

Breast Lift (Mastopexy) – a surgical procedure to lift the brerasts.  It involves the relocation of the nipple, areola to a higher position, repositioning of breast tissue to a higher level, and removal of excess skin from the lower portion of the breast.  The skin that remains is then reshaped.

Breast Reconstruction – a surgical procedure using implants or the patient’s own tissue to rebuild and construct a natural-looking breast.

Breast Reduction (Reduction Mammoplasty) – a surgical procedure to reduce the size of breasts.

Breast Removal (Mastectomy) – the surgical removal of one or both breasts, either completely or partially.  This is usually done to either treat breast cancer. In some instances men or women at high risk of breast cancer may choose to have this procedure.

Brow Lift – a surgical procedure which tightens the skin of the forehead and brow.  Lifts the eyebrows and removes frown lines.

Buttock Augmentation – a surgical procedure involving either the use of a prosthesis or a fat transfer technique to reshape the shape of the buttock.

Buttock Lift – a surgical procedure that in conjunction with lipoplasty (liposuction) removed excess fat and loose skin in the buttock area.


C

Calcium hydroxylapatite –  a mineral that’s already present in our teeth and bones. The calcium hydroxylapatite in this case is suspended in a gel-like solution. This suspension is then injected into the skin, its effect lasting for about 2 years.

Cancer – The uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cancerous cells are also called malignant cells.

Capsular contracture: A complication of breast implant surgery which occurs when scar tissue that normally forms around the implant tightens and squeezes the implant and becomes firm.

Cellulite – a term used to describe the dimpled, lumpy skin that is most noticeable on the buttocks and thighs.

Chemical peel – the application of a chemical solution that penetrates the skin’s surface to remove dead skin cells and soften irregularities.  Stimulates the production of new skin cells.

Collagen – a very important protein that is naturally present in our skin. Its decreased production may lead to skin loosening and the appearance of wrinkles. The effect created by the collagen fillers normally lasts for three to four months.

Chin Augmentation (Mentoplasty) – a surgical procedure that reshapes the chin, either to reduce the size and prominence of the chin, or augmentation to increase the size to reshape.


D

Dermabrasion – Mechanical polishing of the skin.


E

Erythema – redness of the skin, caused by increased blood flow.

Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty) – a surgical procedure involving the removal of excess skin and fatty tissue from the upper or lower eyelids.  Reduces bagginess from the lower eyelids, or drooping from the upper eyelids.

Excision – removal of the skin.

External incisions: Surgical incisions made on the surface of your skin.


F

Facelift (Rhytidectomy) – a surgical procedure to eliminate the saggy and wrinkled skin on the face and neck.

Flap techniques – surgical techniques to reposition your own skin, muscle and fat for reconstruction or to cover your breast.

FRACS – A doctor who is a Fellow of the RACS (Royal Australasian College of Surgeons), signifying they have received extensive training in specific surgery procedures.

Frozen section – a surgical procedure in which the cancerous lesion is removed and microscopically examined by a pathologist prior to wound closure to ensure all cancerous cells have been removed.


G

General anesthesia – the term used for the medications used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.

Gynecomastia – the enlargement of breasts in men.

Grafting – a procedure whereby health tissue is taken from one area of the body to another part that’s bee damaged by injury or disease.


H

Hyaluronic acid – an important polysaccharide present in our skin, also present in the cartilage. It forms a gel when combined with water and utilized in removing the skin’s wrinkles. The type of hyaluronic acid used is chemically modified so it has a longer life. The effect of the injection containing this chemical lasts about 6 to 12 months.

Hyperpigmentation –  a condition of the skin appearing as dark spots,  where there is excessive pigmentation.


I

Injectable fillers – substances used to add volume and restore a youthful appearance.  Used to plump lips, enhance contours and soften creases and wrinkles.

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) – pulses of light used to treat texture changes and discoloration of the skin. Used for permanent hair removal and photo-rejuvenation treatments.

ISAPS (International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) – The  ISAPS is an international society of Plastic Surgeons. As it is a society of Plastic Surgeons we understand that any Australian or New Zealand plastic surgeons wishing to join the international society would have to be Fellows of the RACS.


J


K

Keloid scar – a scar that grows bigger than the injury site.  It can also pucker.  More commonly appearing where the underlying fatty tissue is minimal, for example the shoulders.


L

Laser resurfacing – a treatment to change to the surface of the skin that allows new, healthy skin to reduce facial wrinkles and skin irregularities.

Laser therapy – any treatment using intense beams of light to cut, burn or destroy tissue.  Laser therapies are used to help correct wrinkles, acne, pigmentation, hair removal, spider veins and varicose veins.

Light Therapy (IPL) – pulses of light used to treat texture changes and discoloration of the skin. Used for permanent hair removal and photo-rejuvenation treatments.

Lip Augmentation – a procedure to improve the appearance of lips, correct their symmetry, or reduce lines and wrinkles around them, giving a plumper appearance.  This can be done surgically for a permanent result, or with injectables which must be repeated to maintain results.

Lip Lift – a surgical procedure that lifts the corners of the mouth to eliminate the droopy unhappy expression which often develops with age.

Lip Reduction – a surgical procedure the reduce the size of the lips.

Lipoplasty (Liposuction) – a surgical procedure in which a cannula (instrument) is used to disperse and vacuum localized collections of fatty tissue from beneath the skins surface to reduce fat.

Liposuction (Lipoplasty) – a surgical procedure in which a cannula (instrument) is used to disperse and vacuum localized collections of fatty tissue from beneath the skins surface to reduce fat.

Local anesthesia – the drug that’s injected directly to the site of an incision to relieve pain.

Lower body lift – a surgical procedure including an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and lifting of the buttocks, groin and thighs.  Usually performed on patients who have experienced significant weightloss.


M

Mastopexy (Breast Lift ) – a surgical procedure to lift the brerasts.  It involves the relocation of the nipple, areola to a higher position, repositioning of breast tissue to a higher level, and removal of excess skin from the lower portion of the breast.  The skin that remains is then reshaped.

Mammoplasty (reduction) – a surgical procedure to reduce the size of breasts.

Mastectomy – the surgical removal of one or both breasts, either completely or partially.  This is usually done to either treat breast cancer. In some instances men or women at high risk of breast cancer may choose to have this procedure.

Mentoplasty (Chin Augmentation) – a surgical procedure that reshapes the chin, either to reduce the size and prominence of the chin, or augmentation to increase the size to reshape.

Medial thigh lift – a surgical procedure to correct la tissues on the inner side of the upper inner thighs.


N

Nose Surgery (Rhinoplasty) – a surgical procedure performed to alter or enhance the appearance of the nose.


O

Otoplasty (ear surgery) – a surgical procedure to improve the shape, position or proportion of the ear.


P

Poikiloderma – a skin condition that consists of areas of increased and decreased pigmentation, prominent blood vessels, and thinning of the skin.

Poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) – a biocompatible, biodegradable synthetic polymer, it’s also used in bone screws and absorbable stitches. It is one of the longest lasting of dermal filler. Its effect may  remain for approximately 2 years, the beneficial effects of PLLA become visible with the passage of time.


Q


R

RACS (Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) – This college was first established in 1927 and is the body responsible for training and examining all surgeons in Australia and New Zealand. It is the only body recognised by the Australian Medical Board as being able to certify a doctor as suitably qualified to undertake surgery procedures. A doctor who is a Fellow of the RACS will have the initials FRACS after their name to signify that they have received extensive training in specific surgery procedures.

Reduction mammaplasty – The surgical removal of breast tissue to reduce the size of breasts.

Rhinoplasty (Nose Surgery) – a surgical procedure performed to alter or enhance the appearance of the nose.

Rhytidectomy (facelift) – a surgical procedure to eliminate the saggy and wrinkled skin on the face and neck.


S

Saline implants – breast implants filled with a salt water solution.

Sclerotherapy – a medical procedure whereby a solution (usually sodium chloride) is injected into a vein, causing it to collapse and fade from view.  This procedure is used to eliminate varicose and spider veins.

Septoplasty – a surgical procedure which improves the airflow of the nose.  This procedure if usually performed I conjunction with rhinoplasty.

Silicone implants – breast implants filled with an elastic gel solution.

Skin resurfacing – a controlled injury to your skin used as treatment to improve the texture, clarity and overall appearance of the skin.

Soft tissue augmentation – using injectable dermal fillers to restore volume and a youthful appearance.

Spider veins –smaller and closer to the surface than varicose veins, they can appear in the skin on the thighs, calves and ankles.

Suction lipectomy – another term for liposuction.

Sutures – the stitches a surgeon uses to hold skin and tissue together.


T

Thigh Lift – a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and tighten muscles in the thigh area.

Tissue expansion – a technique when skin or other tissue is stretched (using inflatable balloons) to stretch skin.  This is usually done for a breast reconstruction.

Transaxillary incision – an incision made in the underarm area used during breast augmentation surgery.

Tummy tuck (Abdominoplasty) – a surgical procedure to flatten the belly and reduce the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.  It can tighten the muscles in the abdomen and may remove stretchmarks, excess skin and fat.  Generally the navel is removed an repositioned too.


U

Ultrasound – a diagnostic procedure using high-frequency sound waves to create an image of a part of the inside body.

Ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty – a relatively new method that uses ultrasonic energy to liquefy fat prior to removal by surgical suction.


V

Varicose veins – abnormally swollen, enlarged, twisted or dilated veins found near the surface of the skin.


W


X


Y


Z

Z-plasty – a surgical technique used to improve the functional and cosmetic appearance of scars. Makes it possible to create the scar into an alignment with a natural skin fold.

This glossary is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice from your qualified surgeon or specialist.

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