Angie's LIST Guide to
Cosmetic surgery

Often known as plastic surgery, cosmetic surgery is a procedure that modifies or improves an aspect of one's appearance—a physical deformity, irregularity or defect—but isn't medically necessary.


Those looking for skin and cosmetic care have a variety of options and services. From major surgery to small procedures performed at day spas, there are treatment options to suit every preference.
Those looking for skin and cosmetic care have a variety of options and services. From major surgery to small procedures performed at day spas, there are treatment options to suit every preference.

Considering plastic surgery

Many people think of cosmetic surgery as face lifts, breast augmentation or tummy tucks. While these modifications have become quite popular, many other people elect plastic surgery to correct a physical deformity, something they were born with or encountered in life. Some people correct the scars from an injury, the crooked nose broken while playing a sport or burns suffered from an accident.

These procedures fall under the same category, even though they are remarkably different and are done for various reasons. The main stigma with these surgical procedures is that they aren't necessary. Whereas some question why people would subject themselves to surgery and recovery when it isn't crucial to sustaining their life, others understand and support the idea. Lack of self-confidence affects many aspects of life: from school, to work, to social gatherings. Many people want to gain confidence and feel good when they look in the mirror. It isn't an easy decision to make, but many find the risks and expense worth the chance to finally feel happy with themselves.

If you're considering plastic surgery, you're not alone. Americans spent nearly $10.7 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2010, almost 9.5 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2010 and the demand for cosmetic procedures increased by 9 percent.

Why people get plastic surgery

People choose plastic surgery for many reasons. Of the various procedures, the most popular is breast augmentation, which improves the overall size and shape of the breasts, and tummy tucks, which removes excess skin and belly fat. Other popular and less invasive procedures include liposuction and a nose job (rhinoplasty).

Other procedures correct the effects of a birth defect, deformity or scarring from an accident, previous surgery or other event. Many people are born with physical deformities or other abnormalities on the face or body. Some of these affect quality of life but don't put a person's life in danger. So, in short, the surgery isn't medically necessary. Some people seek out a cosmetic surgeon to have a growth removed or a lazy eye fixed. Others could have laser procedures to remove scarring or skin discolorations. They choose this not just improve their appearance but to improve their quality of life.

There are many different surgical procedures, and the only way to find the right one for you or someone else is to consult with a cosmetic surgeon and go over your options.

Cosmetic surgery risks

As with all surgeries, there is a risk of infection. Infections at the surgical site can lead to added scarring and additional procedures. Other risks include a reaction to the anesthesia. Complications can go from mild (nausea and vomiting or headaches) to severe (pneumonia, blood clots and even death). In certain facial procedures, you can risk nerve damage that numbs part of your face or causes tingling. This can dissipate over time or become permanent depending on the severity of the damage. Other risk factors include dissatisfaction with the outcome of the procedure.

We all hear about "botched plastic surgery," so that's why finding a great cosmetic surgeon is so vital to a successful outcome. Doing your research on cosmetic surgeons and reading patient reviews is key. To find a certified, reputable surgeon who comes highly recommended and reviewed, check the listings on Angie's List. Visit different offices and make a few consultation appointments, get to know the doctor and how things operate. Become comfortable with your physician before going under the knife. You may pay more for a highly rated and in-demand doctor, but in the end you will be pleased with the results and feel like you made the best choice.


We all know that any surgery involves risk. This is why it is important to research not only your surgeon (and yes, it should be a surgeon, hopefully a board certified cosmetic surgeon), but also the facility the surgery will be done at. Some good questions to ask are: Are you board certified? Is the facility accredited? How often and how recently have you performed this procedure? A doctor's license to practice medicine should be verified too. Licensure alone does not guarantee experience, however. Be sure to look at before and after pictures. And an ethical surgeon will help educate you about what procedure may or may not be appropriate for you based on lifestyle and medical history. Good luck with your research!

Dr. Rhys Branman
Little Rock Cosmetic Surgery Center

I had this procedure in Punt Gorda, Fla. I sustained second degree burns resulting in nerve damage. I may need to take Lyrica (for derve damage) the rest of my life.

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