When most people think about plastic surgery, they imagine the transformative end result. But there is a lot that happens before the final reveal—including scarring, bloating, and bruising—that may surprise you. There are also many misconceptions about what is possible with plastic surgery.
So that you’re not caught off guard, Sidhbh Gallagher, M.D., a plastic surgeon at Indiana University Health, sheds light on what you might expect from these plastic surgery situations.
Surprise: After liposuction, the fat may come back in other places
When surgeons perform liposuction, they extract fat cells from a particular area (or areas) of the body so that fat can no longer be stored there. “After liposuction, the fat cells are gone in that region, so it’s basically a permanent solution,” says Dr. Gallagher. What people may not realize, however, is that if they gain weight after liposuction, the fat cells in other parts of the body will expand even more. “You have a finite number of fat cells, so if you put on weight after liposuction, the fat has to go elsewhere,” she adds.
Surprise: Your body may heal a scar better than surgery would
Before rushing to a plastic surgeon to fix a scar, wait at least a year after its appearance. “With any scar—whether it’s the result of surgery or trauma—it typically evolves and improves over the course of a year until healing plateaus,” says Dr. Gallagher. “We spend a lot of time reassuring patients that their own body will do a better job of healing the scar than any surgery. After a year, if the scar is still a problem, we can consider surgery.”
Surprise: Fillers and injectables may be more effective than a facelift
“People are often surprised to hear that the combination of fillers and injectables can be more powerful than a facelift—and the combo can certainly be more appropriate for younger patients,” says Dr. Gallagher. Two of the markers of aging are a loss of volume and lines around the face. Fillers add volume and Botox helps eliminate facial creases. The solution is not everlasting (Botox lasts for about three months while fillers last for six to 18 months) but the procedure is much less invasive than a full facelift and requires much less recovery time.