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  Glossary of Plastic Surgery Terms
:: Glossary of Plastic Surgery Terms

Abdominoplasty See standard abdominoplasty and mini abdominoplasty.

Adipose tissue Fat.

Ala nasi The outer wing-shaped wall of the nostril.

Alar nasal cartilage The wing-shaped connective tissue that makes up the tip of the nose.

Alar rim The border of the nostril.

Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) The mildest of the chemical peel formulas, alphahydroxy acids include glycolic, lactic, fruit acids, etc., and they are used to improve skin texture and reduce fine wrinkles as well as mild irregularities in pigmentation. They are of limited value in treatment of deep wrinkles, severely uneven pigmentation, and scars.

Anabolic steroids A family of drugs with properties known to build body tissues, most notably muscles. In high doses, these drugs are converted by the body into feminizing hormones, which accounts for breast development in males and a host of other side effects, including acne and liver damage.

Anesthesia Loss of sensation in the body induced by administration of a type of drug known as an anesthetic. Types of anesthesia generally used in plastic surgery procedures include: local anesthesia (the injection of an anesthetic to numb the area being treated), local with sedation (medication administered by vein to induce sleep, followed by an injection of an anesthetic to numb the area being treated), and general anesthesia (an anesthetic gas administered to induce sleep with a ventilator to assist breathing). In many operations, regardless of the chosen anesthetic, your doctor will also use a local anesthetic with epinephrine, a vascular constrictor, to reduce bleeding during the operation and aid in controlling postoperative pain.

Antihelix The inner fold in the cartilage that gives the outer ear its shape.

Areola The pigmented area around the nipple.

Augmentation mammoplasty Breast augmentation using implants.

Axilla/axillae (pl.) The armpit(s).

Bifid lobule A torn earlobe.

Blepharoplasty A cosmetic surgical procedure performed on the eyelids.

Breast implant A silicone rubber shell filled with either silicone gel or inflated with a saline solution.

Canula A small, hollow tube. In liposuction, it is inserted into the skin through one or more tiny incisions near the area to be suctioned. Attached to a syringe or vacuum pressure unit, the canula is guided by the surgeon to aspirate unwanted fat.

Capsule Scar tissue that grows around implants or any foreign body. Any time a foreign substance is placed in the body, the body's response is to try to wall it off by forming a scar, or capsule, around that object.

Cartilage The connective tissue (gristle) that forms the outer ear.

Cauliflower ears An acquired deformity of the ear resulting from an undrained accumulation of blood usually caused by a blow to the ear; also known as boxer's ear.

Cellulite A nonmedical term used to describe fatty deposits that give the skin an uneven, dimpled texture.

Chemical peel A nonspecific term used to describe chemabrasion by any of a wide variety of agents that remove the superficial layer(s) of the skin in a controlled fashion. The result is a smoother, more evenly textured, and more evenly pigmented skin surface.

Cilia Eyelashes.

Collagen The major protein of connective tissue that makes up the foundation of skin and other tissues. When extracted from animal skin, it is used as an injectable filler to plump depressed areas or augment deficient areas of the skin. It is not administered to pregnant women, patients who are allergic to beef or bovine products, patients who suffer from autoimmune diseases, or those who are allergic to lidocaine, the local anesthetic mixed with the collagen.

Conjunctiva The inner lining of the eyelids.

Conchal cartilage excess A congenital condition in which there is too much cartilage in the lower portion of the ear, making the base of the ear stick out.

Cornea The clear, sensitive covering of the pupil.

Corneal abrasion A scratch of the cornea that causes intense pain and may result in visual impairment if not treated appropriately.

Corneal ulceration A painful, crater-shaped interruption of the corneal surface caused by dry eye, which may lead to infection, scarring, and visual impairment if not treated appropriately.

Cosmetic plastic surgery Also known as aesthetic or esthetic plastic surgery; includes operations performed to reshape normal structures in the body in order to improve appearance.

Craniofacial A term relating to both soft tissues of the face and the underlying bony tissues of the skull.

Diastasis recti The separation of the abdominal muscles, usually as a result of pregnancy or massive weight gain.

Dermabrasion A technique of mechanical buffing of the skin, much like the sanding of a piece of wood, to remove the superficial layer(s) of the skin in a controlled fashion. This procedure is generally reserved for more serious skin problems and may be combined with a chemical peel or other plastic surgery procedures. The result is a smoother, more evenly textured, and more evenly pigmented skin surface.

Dermaplaning A technique to remove superficial skin in layers using a dermatome, a mechanical device much like an electric razor. This is reserved for more serious skin problems.

Dermato lipectomy Surgical removal of excess skin and fat.

Dog ear deformity A mound of excess skin located at the extremes of an incision. Frequently self-limiting, if it persists, it may require a minor skin revision performed under local anesthesia three months after the initial operation.

Dry eye Inadequate lubrication of the eyeball due to exposure (lagophthalmos) or decreased tear production, which can lead to corneal ulceration.

Ectropion A term used to describe the eversion or contraction of the lower eyelid resulting in scleral show; a condition also called bloodhound eyes.

Endoscope A fiber-optic instrument that consists of two basic parts: (1) a tubular probe, fitted with a tiny camera and a bright light, which is inserted through a small incision, and (2) a viewing screen, very much like a computer monitor or television screen, which magnifies the transmitted image.

Endoscopy A fiber-optic technology that allows a surgeon to view images of the body's internal structures through very small incisions using a device called an endoscope.

Entropion A term used to describe the inversion of the lower eyelid, which causes the lashes to rub against the eyeball.

Epinephrine A neurohormone with many actions, used frequently in plastic surgery procedures for its ability to constrict small blood vessels and reduce intraoperative bleeding and prolong the effects of local anesthetics.

Excision The act of cutting out. A surgical procedure to totally remove a tumor or scar.

Fat Adipose tissue.

Fascia Fibrous tissue that is found throughout the body beneath the skin. It encloses muscles and groups of muscles and separates and anchors several tissue layers of the body.

Flap operations These procedures involve lifting a segment of tissue, keeping the bood and nerve supplies attached, and rotating it into an alternative position.

Gigantomastia A medical term used to describe extremely large breasts.

Gortex A lightweight, durable synthetic fiber used as a tissue filler.

Glabellar frown lines The vertical creases between the eyebrows.

Graft Living tissue moved from one part of the body to another. In the case of hair transplants, round-shaped punch grafts usually contain ten to fifteen hairs. A minigraft contains two to four hairs; a micrograft, one to two. Slit grafts, which are inserted into slits created in the scalp, contain four to ten grafts each. Strip grafts, which are long and thin, contain thirty to forty hairs.

Graves' disease Hyperthyroidism.

Gynecomastia Male breast enlargement.

Hydroquinone A prescription bleaching agent, commonly used with Retin-A or AHA treatments for management of irregularities in skin pigmentation.

Hypertrophic scar A medical term used to describe a widened or enlarged scar that remains within the boundaries of the initial injury or incision.

Hypospadias A relatively common congenital anomaly in which the urethra does not extend to the end of the penis and opens elsewhere on the shaft.

Inframammary fold The crease below the breast.

Injectable filler Any of several substances used to plump up a depressed area of the skin, such as a scar, or augment a deficient area.

Jowls A term used to describe lax skin and pockets of fat that blunt the jawline.

Keloid A hypertrophic scar that has outgrown the boundaries of the initial injury. This occurs when the body continues to manufacture collagen after a wound has healed. The keloid scar is often redder, thicker, and harder than surrounding skin. It is often annoyingly itchy.

Lagophthalmos Inability to fully close the upper eyelid. It is transient in most cases because of postoperative swelling. A rare but more serious problem is lagophthalmos due to contracture, or shortening, of the upper eyelid muscles or skin. This condition may require surgical correction.

Laser Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation; a monochromatic, visible light that concentrates high energy to a pinpoint area, vaporizing that area while leaving surrounding tissues undamaged.

Laser assisted liposuction An experimental technology using light energy to break up fat for removal.

Laser peel a.k.a. laser resurfacing Use of laser to vaporize damaged skin while leaving surrounding tissues undamaged.

Lidocaine Lidocaine hydrochloride; a common local anesthetic.

Limited liposuction Also called spot or lunch hour liposuction. Small, specific fatty areas are treated, removing one to two cups of fat.

Liposuction a.k.a. standard liposuction Liposuction treatment of a larger area, such as the abdomen or buttocks and thighs, removing one to two liters of fat.

Liquid silicone In the early 1960s, injections of liquid silicone were used for breast augmentation. It was later disapproved for human use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1965.

Lop ear deformity A congenital condition in which the top of the ear flops forward, resulting from an unfurling of the antihelix. Also known as rabbit ears.

Mammography Breast X ray. A diagnostic tool used not only to detect tumors but also to distinguish fat and glandular tissue.

Mammoplasty Surgical procedure performed on the breast.

Marionette lines A term used to describe vertical creases extending from the corners of the mouth to the jaw.

Mastectomy Breast removal.

Mastopexy Breast lift.

Milia Skin cysts that look like whiteheads, which may form in a resurfaced area or along a suture line.

Mini abdominoplasty This is the more commonly performed procedure to correct stretched muscles from the pubis to the umbilicus, with or without excess skin resection. It is frequently combined with liposuction.

Molded silicone Semisolid silicone that is easily shaped for use as implants, especially for calves, chest, buttocks, and face.

Nasal dorsum The ridge of the nose formed of bone at the bridge and cartilage at the tip.

Nasal septum The wall dividing the nasal cavity into halves, formed posteriorly of bone and anteriorly of cartilage.

Nasolabial fold The crease extending from the side of the nostril to the corner of the mouth.

Orbit Eye socket.

Otoplasty A medical term referring to the surgical correction of an ear deformity.

Palpebral fold The crease in the upper eyelid.

Panniculectomy A surgical procedure that removes large quantities of redundant skin and its underlying fat. Most often this operation is performed on the abdomen to remove the apron of fat and skin; however, the term refers to any area of the body, such as the arms.

Pannus From the Latin meaning piece of cloth. Used to refer to any area of excess fat and skin, most commonly the apron of fat and skin hanging from the abdomen and the flabby, winglike underarm.

Pectoral muscles The primary muscles of the chest.

Phenol The strongest of the chemical solutions used to remove wrinkles in the skin.

Physiologic saline This is a saltwater solution, the same as IV saline. Closely resembling the solution that makes up approximately 71 percent of the human body, it is used to inflate breast implant shells to desired size.

Platysmal bands Cords of the platysma muscle that extend from the jaw to the collarbone on either side of the neck.

Ptosis Drooping or sagging. Brow ptosis refers to the sagging of the eyebrow below the level of the upper rim of the eye socket. Weakness or detachment of the levator muscle, which raises the upper lid, usually is the cause of upper eyelid ptosis. When referring to breasts, it usually describes breasts after pregnancy.

Reconstructive plastic surgery Surgical procedures performed on abnormal structures of the body. These abnormalities may be caused by congenital defects, such as cleft lip and palate, or trauma, burns, infections, tumors, or disease. Surgery improves function and, when possible, approximates normal appearance.

Resect/resection To cut off or cut out.

Retin-A A prescription medication derived from vitamin A, prescribed commonly by a dermatologist in the treatment of acne and used frequently as an exfoliating pretreatment for chemical peels. Its therapeutic effect beyond acne control is stimulation of skin growth, resulting in smoother, healthier-appearing skin.

Rhinoplasty Reconstructive or plastic surgery of the nose.

Rhytid A wrinkle.

Rhytidectomy The surgical procedure to remove wrinkles; a face-lift.

Scalp expansion (skin expansion) First stage of a two-stage procedure to bring hair together at the crown. A balloonlike tissue expander is inserted beneath the scalp and inflated in weekly treatments over several weeks to stretch and loosen skin.

Scalp reduction Second stage of scalp reconstruction or hair restoration following scalp expansion and, on occasion, flap surgery. A segment of bald scalp is removed and skin is brought together and sutured to cover the bald area.

Scar The connective tissue remnant of the body's healing process in response to injury.

Scar revision A term used to describe a variety of procedures, including chemical peels, injections of steroids, or surgical revisions used to improve the appearance and/or orientation of scars.

Sclera The white part of the eyeball.

Scleral hematoma A black-and-blue mark on the sclera that appears as a cherry red spot that resolves over a two- to three-week period.

Scleral show A result of ectropion, caused by the retraction of the lower eyelid, which exposes the sclera below the pupil of the eye when looking straight ahead.

Sclerotherapy A technique for treating spider veins, telangiectasias, or sunburst varicosities by injecting a solution that collapses the vessel.

Septoplasty Reconstructive surgery of the nasal septum.

Silicone gel This is a jellylike silicone rubber used in early breast implants. Silicone gel-filled implants are available only through controlled FDA studies and in special cases of reconstruction.

Skin expansion See scalp expansion.

SMAS (submusculo aponeurotic segment) face-lift A two-tiered face-lift procedure, the major component of which is tightening of the connective tissue and muscular layer of the face before redraping the skin.

Spider veins Nonessential dilated veins that lie just under the skin.

Standard abdominoplasty A surgical procedure that removes excess fat and skin from the abdomen. Frequently, this includes tightening severely stretched abdominal muscles, from the pubis to the breastbone, and repositioning the umbilicus (belly button). This requires a transverse incision, usually extending from hip to hip, and an umbilical incision to reposition the navel.

Subciliary Incision An incision placed on the outside of the lower eyelid, just below the eyelashes, for removal of excess skin and fat.

Submental fat The fat found under the chin, commonly associated with double chins.

Sunburst varicosities Tiny, nonessential veins that lie close to the skin in a pattern resembling sunbursts; spider veins.

Telangiectasias Tiny, nonessential veins that lie close to the skin without a specific pattern; spider veins.

Tragus A tonguelike projection of cartilage in front of the opening of the ear canal.

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