What is a cosmetic procedure?

Considering a cosmetic procedure?
Do you ever look in the mirror and think, "Why did my genes decide that my nose should look like this?" Well, you're not alone. Millions of people around the world ask themselves similar questions. And some of them decide to have a cosmetic procedure done.

A cosmetic procedure is a procedure done to alter a specific body part or area in order to remodel or improve its form or appearance. Some cosmetic procedures involve surgery; others don't.

People choose to have a cosmetic procedure done for many different reasons. In 2003, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported 1.8 million people had surgical cosmetic procedures and 6.4 million people had non-surgical procedures. Wrinkles, aging skin, and imperfections caused by scarring or acne are only some reasons why many people turn to cosmetic procedures. A less-than-sparkling smile can lead people to have their teeth whitened. Excess fat accumulation might be reduced with liposuction. Features that are displeasing to the individual, such as an unusual nose or sagging brows, are potential areas for surgical cosmetic procedures.

If you are considering a cosmetic procedure, there are some things you should think about:
  • How do I finance a cosmetic procedure?
    In most cases, the government plans do not cover surgical cosmetic procedures. Check to see if you can purchase insurance to pay for a procedure that doesn't correct a medical problem. Some clinics provide advice on payment options as well.
  • What results do I expect to get?
    Do you expect to look like your favourite movie star? If so, your expectations may be unrealistic. When talking to your doctor, make sure to discuss what can realistically be done to enhance your appearance.
  • How do I find a surgeon or a doctor to perform the cosmetic procedure?
    You can find a surgeon through a number of resources. Check out the Canadian Society for Aesthetic (Cosmetic) Plastic Surgery and the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons online. You may be able to get a referral from your own doctor.
Non-surgical cosmetic procedures
Non-surgical procedures are performed on the surface of the body or with simple injections. They don't involve cutting into the body or removing parts of the body. Many non-surgical cosmetic procedures are very popular today. They are popular because they often offer:
  • immediate results
  • very short or no recovery time
  • lower cost than surgical cosmetic procedures
The following are some of the more common non-surgical cosmetic procedures available today:
  • Collagen or fat injections: Collagen derived from a cow or your own fat is injected into facial wrinkles to smooth these lines.
  • Botoxģ injections: A toxin made by bacteria is injected into specific facial muscles. It paralyzes the muscles to prevent lines from appearing on the face.
  • Microdermabrasion: Aluminum oxide crystals are flowed against the skin through a tube and hand piece, creating a vacuum. The crystals combine with dead skin cells and debris and are suctioned away.
  • Dermabrasion: A spinning wheel with a roughened surface is passed across the facial skin to remove its upper layers. As the skin heals, a new layer of skin appears with a smoother surface.
  • Laser skin resurfacing: Laser light is passed over the skin, resurfacing the skin and making it appear smoother. Laser skin resurfacing treats wrinkles, age spots, moles, tattoos, and warts.
  • Laser hair removal: Laser light is passed over the skin, damaging the hair follicles. After several treatments, these hair follicles stop producing new hair.
  • Tooth whitening or bleaching: A whitening or bleaching agent (e.g., hydrogen peroxide) is applied to the teeth for a certain amount of time to produce a whiter effect.
Surgical cosmetic procedures
Surgical cosmetic procedures belong to the branch of plastic surgery called aesthetic plastic surgery. Surgical procedures involve cutting into the body and changing or removing parts of it. They can produce more significant changes to a person's appearance. However, they have some drawbacks:
  • They need to be done in a special sterile environment to prevent infections.
  • They are usually done with the aid of anesthesia in order to avoid pain.
  • They often require days or weeks of healing and recovery time.
  • They can be quite expensive.
Some of the more common surgical cosmetic procedures are:
  • breast augmentation (breast implants)
  • breast lifting
  • breast reduction
  • brow lifting
  • eyelid lifting
  • face and neck lifting
  • facial implant (e.g., cheekbones, chin)
  • forehead lifting
  • lip augmentation
  • liposuction
  • nose job (rhinoplasty)
  • tummy tuck
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