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ABCs Of Cosmetic Procedures

Last year, 7.5 million people had cosmetic procedures. On The Saturday Early Show, Dr. Edward Luce offers a plastic surgery primer to those considering surgery themselves.

Dr. Luce, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, is chief of plastic surgery at University Hospitals of Cleveland.

Ever wonder why it is called "plastic" surgery? It's because the word "plastic" comes from the Greek word "plastikos," meaning "to mold or shape."

Reconstructive and cosmetic are the two basic types of plastic surgery. Reconstructive plastic surgery is used to repair abnormalities such as birth defects, accident trauma or disease. It is generally performed to improve function, but may also be done to approximate a normal appearance. For instance, breast implants following a mastectomy is a reconstructive surgery.

Cosmetic procedures (a combination of surgical and non-surgical procedures) are much more common and are what people typically think of when they hear "plastic surgery." In these cases, the surgery's goal is to reshape normal structures of the body in order to improve the patient's appearance and self-esteem.

The top cosmetic surgeries are nose reshaping (rhinoplasty), liposuction, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), breast augmentation, and facelift (rhytidectomy).

The most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedures include chemical peel, microdermabrasion, botox injections, and collegen injections.


Most potential patients realize there is a chance of complications with cosmetic surgery, says Dr. Luce. However, complications are rare. There is about a five to seven percent chance of problems like extreme bruising or minor infection. There is only a one percent chance of more serious problems such as bleeding or wound breakdown.

The key to avoiding complications is choosing the right doctor. Dr. Luce has three pieces of advice for finding the right doctor:

  1. LOOK FOR A BOARD CERTIFIED M.D. Legally, any licensed doctor can perform cosmetic surgery. Make sure your doctor has been approved by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
  2. ASK ABOUT EXPERIENCE. The more, the better. Just because a doctor is well known and respected doesn't mean he's performed the type of surgery you are interested in.
  3. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. If you feel as though you are being pushed toward surgery, respect that feeling and find another doctor. You need to feel relaxed and a growing sense of trust throughout the consultation.
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