Procedure: Flatten abdomen by removing excess fat and skin and tightening muscles of abdominal wall.
Length: 2 to 5 hours.
Anesthesia: General, or local with sedation.
In/Outpatient: Either depending on individual circumstances and extent of surgery.
Side Effects: Temporary pain. Swelling, soreness, numbness of abdominal skin, bruising, tiredness for several weeks or months.
Risks: Blood clots. Infection. Bleeding under the skin flap. Poor healing resulting in conspicuous scarring or skin loss. Need for a second operation.
Recovery: Back to work: 2 to 4 weeks. More strenuous activity: 4 to 6 weeks or more. Fading and flattening of scars: 3 months to 2 years.
Pre Operative Instructions
Post Operative Instructions
Procedure: Plump up creased, furrowed, or sunken facial skin; add fullness to lips and backs of hands. Works best on thin, dry, light-colored skin.
Length: 15 minutes to 1 hour per session.
Anesthesia: Collagen: usually none; local may be included with the injection. Fat: local.
Side Effects: Temporary stinging, throbbing, or burning sensation. Faint redness, swelling, excess fullness.
Risks: Collagen: allergic reaction including rash, hives, swelling, or flu-like symptoms; possible triggering of connective-tissue or autoimmune diseases. (A skin test is required before collagen treatment to determine whether an allergy exists.) Both: Contour irregularities, infection.
Duration of Results: Variable; a few months to 1 year.
Procedure: Improve body shape by removing exercise-resistant fat deposits with a tube and vacuum device. Can be performed using the tumescent technique, in which targeted fat cells are infused with saline containing solution with a local anesthetic before liposuction to reduce post-operative bruising and swelling. Common locations for liposuction include chin, cheeks, neck, upper arms, above breasts, abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves, ankles.
For larger volumes of fat or for fibrous body areas, ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty (UAL) may be used. UAL is a new technique in which a ultrasound probe is inserted beneath the skin to "liquify" the fat before it is suctioned.
Length: 1 to 2 hours or more. UAL: 20-40 percent longer than traditional liposuction.
Anesthesia: Local, epidural, or general.
In/Outpatient: Usually outpatient. Extensive procedures may require short inpatient stay.
Side Effects: Temporary bruising, swelling, numbness, soreness, burning sensation. Tumescent: Temporary fluid drainage from incision sites. UAL: Larger incisions for cannula.
Risks: Asymmetry. Rippling or bagginess of skin. Pigmentation changes. Skin injury. Fluid retention. Excessive fluid loss leading to shock. Infection. UAL: thermal burn injury caused by the heat from the ultrasound device.
Recovery: Back to work: 1 to 2 weeks. More strenuous activity: 2 to 4 weeks. Full recovery from swelling and bruising: 1 to 6 months or more. Use of tumescent technique or UAL may decrease post-operative bruising and swelling.
Duration of Results: Permanent, with sensible diet and exercise.
Keloids are thick, puckered, itchy clusters of scar tissue that grow beyond the edges of the wound or incision. They are often red or darker in color than the surrounding skin. Keloids occur when the body continues to produce the tough, fibrous protein known as collagen after a wound has healed.
Keloids can appear anywhere on the body, but they're most common over the breastbone, on the earlobes, and on the shoulders. They occur more often in dark-skinned people than in those who are fair. The tendency to develop keloids lessens with age.
Keloids are often treated by injecting a steroid medication directly into the scar tissue to reduce redness, itching, and burning. In some cases, this will also shrink the scar.
If steroid treatment is inadequate, the scar tissue can be cut out and the wound closed with one or more layers of stitches. This is generally an outpatient procedure, performed under local anesthesia. You should be back at work in a day or two, and the stitches will be removed in a few days. A skin graft (see the section on skin grafting) is occasionally used, although the site from which the graft was taken may then develop a keloid.
No matter what approach is taken, keloids have a stubborn tendency to recur, sometimes even larger than before. To discourage this, the surgeon may combine the scar removal with steroid injections, direct application of steroids during surgery, or radiation therapy. Or you may be asked to wear a pressure garment over the area for as long as a year. Even so, the keloid may return, requiring repeated procedures every few years.
Hypertrophic scars are often confused with keloids, since both tend to be thick, red, and raised. Hypertrophic scars, however, remain within the boundaries of the original incision or wound. They often improve on their own-though it may take a year or more-or with the help of steroid applications or injections.
If a conservative approach doesn't appear to be effective, hypertrophic scars can often be improved surgically. The plastic surgeon will remove excess scar tissue, and may reposition the incision so that it heals in a less visible pattern. This surgery may be done under local or general anesthesia, depending on the scar's location and what you and your surgeon decide. You may receive steroid injections during surgery and at intervals for up to two years afterward to prevent the thick scar from reforming.
Burns or other injuries resulting in the loss of a large area of skin may form a scar that pulls the edges of the skin together, a process called contraction. The resulting contracture may affect the adjacent muscles and tendons, restricting normal movement.
Correcting a contracture usually involves cutting out the scar and replacing it with a skin graft or a flap. In some cases a procedure known as Z-plasty may be used. And new techniques, such as tissue expansion, are playing an increasingly important role. If the contracture has existed for some time, you may need physical therapy after surgery to restore full function.
Because of its location, a facial scar is frequently considered a cosmetic problem, whether or not it is hypertrophic. There are several ways to make a facial scar less noticeable. Often it is simply cut out and closed with tiny stitches, leaving a thinner, less noticeable scar.
If the scar lies across the natural skin creases (or "lines of relaxation") the surgeon may be able to reposition it to run parallel to these lines, where it will be less conspicuous. (See Z-plasty)
Some facial scars can be softened using a technique called dermabrasion, a controlled scraping of the top layers of the skin using a hand-held, high-speed rotary wheel. Dermabrasion leaves a smoother surface to the skin, but it won't completely erase the scar.
Z-plasty is a surgical technique used to reposition a scar so that it more closely conforms to the natural lines and creases of the skin, where it will be less noticeable. It can also relieve the tension caused by contracture. Not all scars lend themselves to Z-plasty, however, and it requires an experienced plastic surgeon to make such judgments.
In this procedure, the old scar is removed and new incisions are made on each side, creating small triangular flaps of skin. These flaps are then rearranged to cover the wound at a different angle, giving the scar a "Z" pattern. The wound is closed with fine stitches, which are removed a few days later. Z-plasty is usually performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia.
While Z-plasty can make some scars less obvious, it won't make them disappear. A portion of the scar will still remain outside the lines of relaxation.
Skin Grafting & Flap Surgery
Skin grafts and flaps are more serious than other forms of scar surgery. They're more likely to be performed in a hospital as inpatient procedures, using general anesthesia. The treated area may take several weeks or months to heal, and a support garment or bandage may be necessary for up to a year.
Grafting involves the transfer of skin from a healthy part of the body (the donor site) to cover the injured area. The graft is said to "take" when new blood vessels and scar tissue form in the injured area. While most grafts from a person's own skin are successful, sometimes the graft doesn't take. In addition, all grafts leave some scarring at the donor and recipient sites.
Flap surgery is a complex procedure in which skin, along with the underlying fat, blood vessels, and sometimes the muscle, is moved from a healthy part of the body to the injured site. In some flaps, the blood supply remains attached at one end to the donor site; in others, the blood vessels in the flap are reattached to vessels at the new site using microvascular surgery.
Skin grafting and flap surgery can greatly improve the function of a scarred area. The cosmetic results may be less satisfactory, since the transferred skin may not precisely match the color and texture of the surrounding skin. In general, flap surgery produces better cosmetic results than skin grafts.