UMass Memorial Medical Group – FAQs

Frequently asked questions

What are the differences between cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries?

Cosmetic surgery is performed to reshape normal structures of the body in order to improve the person’s appearance and self-esteem. Cosmetic surgery is usually not covered by health insurance because it is elective.

Reconstructive surgery is performed on abnormal structures of the body caused by congenital defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma, infection, tumors or disease. It is generally performed to improve function, but may also be done to refine appearance. Reconstructive surgery is generally covered by health insurance, although coverage for specific procedures and levels of coverage may vary.


What about postoperative pain?

Plastic surgery patients tolerate pain postoperatively in different ways. While some patients may describe the pain as an ache, others experience greater discomfort. Appropriate pain medications are prescribed and help minimize discomfort. Most facial cosmetic operations have minimal discomfort postoperatively. Liposuction is slightly more uncomfortable, and operations that require elevation or tightening of the muscles, such as an abdominoplasty or breast augmentation, may have some significant discomfort the first two days.


Do men have cosmetic procedures performed as well?

Increasing numbers of men are choosing to look as good as they feel. In fact, many cosmetic procedures are performed on men, with the most popular procedures being eyelid surgery, liposuction and nose shaping. Some men may need a procedure for male gynecomastia, a common disease of the male breast where there is a benign glandular enlargement.


What age group is most likely to undergo cosmetic surgery?

All age groups have cosmetic surgery; however, ages 35 to 55 is the leading group, accounting for almost 40 percent of all procedures.


How long is the recuperative period, and when can I return to work?

The length of time it takes to recuperate after plastic surgery varies depending on the procedure performed and the person having surgery. The ability to return to work most often depends on specific daily activities required. Many patients may require assistance for the first two days after surgery. Then, most patients are able to care for themselves, but may still need assistance. The specific lengths of recuperation for a few procedures are outlined below. These are approximations and do not include return to exercise.

  • Eyelid Surgery: Patients usually can get around independently by the second day. With the use of sunglasses, they may feel comfortable going to the store by the third or fourth day, and could return to work in five to seven days.
  • Facelift Surgery: Most people usually can get around independently by the second day. Some do not feel comfortable going out in public for five to seven days. The recovery period requires 10 to 14 days before returning to work for those who have careers that require high degrees of visibility.
  • Breast Surgery: Recovering patients can expect to get around independently by the second or third day. Most return to work in five to seven days.
  • Liposuction: Patients can expect to get around independently by the second day, but earlier if smaller areas are treated. Most return to work and normal activities in five to seven days.


What is the most common cosmetic surgical procedure performed today?

Liposuction is the most popular procedure performed today. Also known as suction-assisted lipectomy, it is the removal of localized areas of fat that do not respond to dieting and exercise and are considered generally inherited fat deposits. Some areas of the body in which liposuction can be performed are the head (chin, neck and cheeks), arms, abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees and ankles. Once the fat cells are removed, the body does not replace them, although fat cells left behind can enlarge if a patient does not maintain a healthy diet and exercise program. Liposuction is commonly considered a contouring operation. It is not an operation to lose weight.