Plastic Surgery Glossary

This glossary is intended to provide you with general information only. The information provided is not a substitute for advice from your Specialist Plastic Surgeon and does not contain all the known medical terms associated with any or all cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. It is important that you speak to your Specialist Plastic Surgeon before deciding to undergo treatment. If you are not sure about the benefits, risks and limitations of treatment, or anything else relating to your procedure including medical terms, ask your Specialist Plastic Surgeon to explain. Patient information provided as part of this website is evidence-based, and sourced from a range of reputable information providers including the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Better Health Channel and Mi-tec medical publishing.

A

Abdominoplasty: A surgical procedure to correct excess skin and fat as well as repair separated muscles of the abdominal wall

Ablative: Resurfacing treatments that remove the uppermost layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis) to varying degrees

Anaesthesia: Lack of a sensation brought on by an anaesthetic drug

Apronectomy: A surgical procedure to remove a large and distressing apron of fat (pannus)

Areola: Pigmented skin surrounding the nipple

Arm lift: A surgical procedure, also known as brachioplasty, to correct sagging of the upper arms

Asymmetry: Lacking symmetry; parts of the body are unequal in shape or size

Augmentation mammoplasty: Breast enlargement by surgery

Autologous tissue breast reconstruction: The use of the patient's own tissues to reconstruct a new breast mound. Common techniques include the TRAM (skin, fat and muscle from the abdomen), DIEP (skin and fat from the abdomen), GAP (Skin and fat from the buttock) and Latissimus dorsi (skin, muscle and fat from the back)

Axilla: The underarm area

B

Bilateral gynaecomastia: A condition of over-developed or enlarged breasts affecting both breasts in men

Blepharoplasty: Eyelid surgery to improve the appearance of upper eyelids, lower eyelids or both

Botulinum toxin: a purified bacterial protein that can partially and temporarily relax muscles. It can be used to reduce wrinkles in the face and spasm in children with cerebral palsy

Brachioplasty: A surgical procedure, also known as arm lift, to correct sagging of upper arms

Breast Augmentation: Also known as augmentation mammoplasty; breast enlargement by surgery

Breast Implants: Medical devices placed in your body to enhance an existing breast size or to reconstruct your breast. Breast implants can be filled with either salt water (saline) or silicone (elastic gel)

Breast reduction: Also known as reduction mammoplasty, reduction of breast size by surgery

Brow lift: A surgical procedure to correct a low-positioned or sagging brow, smooth furrows across the forehead and between the brows

C

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

Cartilage: Connective tissue that forms the structure of parts of the body e.g. the ear or nose

Chemical peel: Use of a chemical solution in order to improve the skin's appearance. It can reduce fine lines under the eyes and around the mouth, correct uneven skin pigmentation, possibly remove pre-cancerous skin growths, and soften acne or treat the scars caused by acne

Circumferential incision: A surgical incision around the body to remove the “belt” of excess skin and fat and additional incisions that may resemble a bikini bottom pattern

Circumferential thigh lift: A surgical procedure to correct sagging of the outer and mid-thigh

Collagen: A natural protein used as an injectable filler for soft tissue augmentation

Columella: The narrow strip of tissue that separates the nostrils

Computed Axial Tomography: A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices). A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays. This is also known as a CT or CAT scan

Congenital: Present at birth

Congenital anomaly: A health problem present at birth (not necessarily genetic)

Conscious sedation: Sedatives administered by injection to numb the surgery site. The patient is awake but sedated throughout the procedure

Contractures: Tension across a concavity or joint caused by or a loss of the normal flexibility of the tissues or skin

Cosmetic plastic surgery: That part of plastic surgery that is concerned with the restoration, improvement or enhancement in the appearance of the face and body, also known as aesthetic plastic surgery

D

Dermis: The thicker supporting layer of the skin, covered by the epidermis

Dermabrasion: A procedure that uses a high-speed rotating brush or sandpaper to remove the top layer of skin. It can improve some wrinkles and some scars, but has largely been replaced by laser except in certain circumstances

Dermatome: An instrument that has an oscillating blade that moves back and forth to evenly shave off a thickness of skin that can then be used as a skin graft

Dermal fillers: Synthetic materials used to correct wrinkles, depressions in the skin, and/or scarring

Deviated septum: Cartilage that separates the nostrils is misaligned which may cause partial nasal airway obstruction

Diastasis: Condition in which abdominal muscles have separated

Dynamic wrinkles: Expression lines that may appear as folds when the skin is not moving, and deepen with facial movements or expressions

E

Ectropion: When the lower eyelid is rolled outward after eyelid surgery; often a temporary condition

Endoscope: A surgical video device sometimes used during brow lift procedures

Endoscopy: A procedure in which a lighted viewing instrument (endoscope) is used to look inside a body cavity or organ to diagnose or treat disorders

Excision: To remove the skin

Expander implant breast reconstruction: The use of an expander to create a breast mound, which may be later replaced with a permanently filled breast implant

F

Face lift: A cosmetic surgical procedure to correct the effect of ageing and gravity on the face by repositioning the tissues of the face creating more youthful contours

Facial implant: Cosmetic plastic surgery to enhance the shape of the chin, cheek, or jaw. This procedure is typically done to enhance certain facial features, or to bring a certain aspect of the face into proportion with the rest of the facial structures

Flap surgery: The use of a piece of tissue with its own blood supply to reconstruct areas deficient in tissue

Flap techniques: Surgical techniques used to reposition your own skin, muscle and fat

Forehead lift: The surgical correction of sagging brows. It is often done in conjunction with a facelift in order to create a smoother facial appearance overall

G

General anaesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness

Grafting: The transfer of skin or other tissue from a healthy part of the body to repair the injured part

Gynaecomastia: A condition in males where the breast develops visible and excessive tissue

H

Human fat: Harvested from your own body and used as an injectable filler for soft tissue augmentation

Haematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin

Hyaluronic acid: A natural substance found in the body used as a filler

Hydroxylapatite: A mineral-like compound found naturally in human bone used as a filler

I

Injectable fillers: Substances used to restore volume and youthful appearance, usually in facial areas

Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax

Implant: A surgical device that is placed permanently in the human body, often to change the shape of an area (e.g. breast implant)

Inframammary incision: An incision made in the fold under the breast

J

Jowls: A jaw line that sags into the neck, usually caused by loss of muscle tone in the lower face

K

 

L

Lipoplasty: Also know as liposuction

Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, this procedure vacuums out fat from beneath the skin’s surface to reduce fullness

Local anaesthesia: A drug injected directly to the site of an incision during an operation to relieve pain

Lower body lift: Surgical procedure to correct sagging of the abdomen, buttocks, groin and outer thighs

M

Macerated skin: Excess skin that hangs and becomes wet or infected underneath

Mammogram: An x-ray image of the breast

Mastectomy: The removal of breast tissue, typically to rid the body of cancer

Mastopexy: Surgery to lift the breasts

Maxillofacial: Pertaining to the jaws and face

Medial thigh lift: A surgical procedure to correct sagging of the inner thigh

Meloplasty: Facelift surgery

Mentoplasty: A surgical procedure designed to reshape the chin

Mini-abdominoplasty: Also know as a "mini tummy tuck". This procedure is designed for individuals who have fat deposits limited to the area below the navel

MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging: a painless test to view tissue similar to an x-ray

N

Nasal: Relating to the nose

Nasolabial fold: Deep creases between the nose and cheek

Non-ablative therapy: Treatments that do not remove any skin but rather penetrate the skin or treat the skin superficially (only on the surface)

O

Otoplasty: A surgical procedure to change the angle and shape of protruding or uneven ears in children and adults

Outer thigh lift: A surgical procedure to correct sagging of the outer and mid-thigh

P

Pannus: A large and distressing apron of fat that can cause chronic dermatitis, skin infection, difficulty in walking and difficulties with hygiene

Periareolar incision: An incision made at the edge of the areola

Pigmentation: Freckles, sun spots, melasma, or other darkened patches of skin result mainly from sun exposure

Plastic surgery: The surgical specialty or procedure concerned with the restoration, construction, reconstruction, or improvement in the form, function, and appearance of body structures that are missing, defective, damaged, or misshapen. Encompasses both reconstructive and aesthetic surgery

Q

 

R

Reduction mammoplasty: The surgical removal of breast tissue to reduce the size of breasts

Reconstructive plastic surgery: That part of plastic surgery that is concerned with the restoration, construction, reconstruction, or improvement in the form, function, and appearance of body structures that are missing, defective, damaged, or misshapen

Rhinoplasty: Surgery to reshape the nose

Rhytidectomy: A surgical procedure also known as facelift, to reduce sagging of the mid-face, jowls and neck

S

Saline: Salt solution

Saline implants: Breast implants filled with salt water

Scar: The result of the body's natural way of healing and replacing lost or damaged tissue.  The way a person scars is usually unique for an individual, but plastic surgery techniques may often hide or minimise visible scars

Sclerotherapy: The treatment of small yet unsightly clusters of red, blue or purple veins through the injection of sclerosing solution into affected veins

Septoplasty: a procedure that opens up nasal passages blocked by a bent septum

Silicone implants: Breast implants filled with an elastic gel

Skin grafts: Anything from a shaving of skin (slit thickness skin graft) all the way to a full thickness piece of skin (full thickness skin graft) used to replace skin where it has been lost.  Often used for skin loss in burns, or when removing skin cancers on the face or legs

Skin laxity: Degree of loose skin

Skin resurfacing: Treatment to improve the texture, clarity and overall appearance of your skin

Soft tissue augmentation: The use of injectable fillers to restore volume and your youthful appearance

Static wrinkles: Wrinkles that are visible at all times

Stretch-Back Scars: Wide scars that are caused by tension during scalp reduction procedures

Submammary or subglandular placement: Breast implants placed directly behind the breast tissue, over the pectoral muscle

Submuscular or subpectoral placement: Breast implants placed under the pectoral muscle, which is located between the breast tissue and chest wall

Suction lipectomy: A form of liposuction

Sutures: Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together

T

Tear trough: Deep creases below the lower eyelids

Telangiectatic matting: The appearance of fine reddish blood vessels around the treated area

Tissue expansion: A surgical procedure that involves inserting a balloon-like device (called an expander) under the skin. The expander is then slowly inflated to stretch and expand the skin overlying it. This extra skin created is used to repair nearby lost or damaged skin

Transaxillary incision: An incision made in the underarm area

Transconjunctival incision: Incision hidden inside the lower eyelid

Tumescent or super-wet liposuction: A form of liposuction where an infusion of saline solution with adrenaline and possibly anaesthetic is injected prior to removal of excess fat

Tummy tuck: A surgical procedure to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen

U

Unilateral gynaecomastia: A condition of over-developed or enlarged breasts affecting just one breast in men

Ultrasound: A diagnostic procedure that projects high frequency sound waves into the body and records the echoes as pictures

Ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty: A form of liposuction where ultrasonic energy is used to liquefy excess fat prior to surgical suctioning

V

 

W

 

X

 

Y

 

Z