Cosmetic Surgery & Skincare

Cosmetic surgery is a type of plastic surgery. People choose cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance. There are many procedures ranging from minimally invasive treatments to complex surgeries. The procedures can smooth wrinkles, reshape features or lift sagging skin. Many people feel more confident after cosmetic surgery, but there are risks.


What is cosmetic surgery?

Cosmetic surgery is a type of plastic surgery. The goal of cosmetic surgery is to alter or improve a person’s appearance. Healthcare providers can do cosmetic surgery on any part of the body.

There are many types of cosmetic surgery procedures. They range from minimally invasive outpatient procedures to complex surgical operations. Some procedures take place in a provider’s office or clinic. Others require a hospital stay.

Many people choose to have cosmetic surgery to feel more comfortable with their appearance. It helps boost their self-confidence and self-esteem. But there can be side effects and complications from cosmetic surgery, and health insurance plans may not cover cosmetic procedures. If you’re thinking about cosmetic surgery, talk to your provider about the benefits and risks of the procedure you’re considering.


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What are the types of cosmetic surgery?

There are dozens of cosmetic surgery techniques based on what you hope to achieve. Many people choose cosmetic surgery to smooth wrinkles and gain a more youthful appearance. Other people have procedures to lift, reshape or change the size of an area on their body.

Many procedures are minimally invasive. Instead of incisions (cuts), providers use chemicals, needles or lasers to enhance a person’s appearance. The most common types of minimally invasive cosmetic surgery include:

Invasive cosmetic surgery procedures are more complex. These procedures use incisions and usually require a longer recovery time. Providers use these procedures to alter, reshape or remove tissues anywhere on the body. The most common invasive cosmetic surgeries include:

Additional Common Questions

How common is cosmetic surgery?

Cosmetic surgery is very common. Every year, providers do more than 15 million cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States. More than 13 million of those are minimally invasive procedures.

People of all genders and ages get cosmetic surgery. These procedures are more common among adults between 40 and 54. Women get around 92% of cosmetic surgery procedures.


What is the difference between cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery?

Both cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery are types of plastic surgery. Healthcare providers do reconstructive surgery to repair or replace damaged tissue. Scar revision surgery and breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery (mastectomy) are common types of reconstructive surgery.

Cosmetic surgery procedures are elective — people choose to have them. These procedures change or enhance someone’s appearance. But unlike reconstructive surgery, cosmetic surgery doesn’t repair an area of the body that’s damaged. Many people choose cosmetic surgery because they want to feel better about the way they look.

What are the side effects of cosmetic surgery?

As with any surgery, cosmetic surgical procedures do have risks. The most common risks are infection and bleeding. Signs of infection after surgery include:

  • Bleeding, redness or pus from the incisions.
  • Fever.
  • Pain that is severe or doesn’t go away with pain relief medications.
  • Severe swelling.

Complications from minimally invasive cosmetic surgery procedures are rare. They vary depending on the technique your provider used. After getting a chemical peel, laser hair removal or IPL, some people have burns, scabbing, changes in skin color or scarring. These side effects can be permanent.

Injection procedures (such as Botox and dermal fillers) can have side effects. Some people have pain, swelling or bruising at the injection site. Serious side effects and complications are rare. They include:


What should I expect from cosmetic surgery?

It’s essential to have realistic expectations before getting cosmetic surgery. While these procedures can enhance your appearance or give you a more youthful look, they aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Take time to think about why you want to have a procedure and what you hope to achieve.

Talk to your provider about what you can expect after your procedure. Some people choose to have more than one procedure to get the results they want. Many people weigh the risks and benefits of cosmetic surgery and decide not to get it.

What can I do to protect myself from complications of cosmetic surgery?

To lower your risk of complications from cosmetic surgery, follow your provider’s instructions carefully before a procedure. You’re more likely to heal properly if you maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet and quit smoking before your procedure.

If you had surgery, be sure to follow your provider’s instructions about how to care for your incision. To avoid complications, give yourself time to rest and recover.

Some skin treatments (such as chemical peels and laser resurfacing) make your skin more sensitive to the sun. You’ll need to wear a hat, protective clothing or sunscreen outside to avoid getting a sunburn. Talk to your provider about other precautions you should take.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Every year, cosmetic surgery procedures help millions of people feel more confident with how they look. These procedures can enhance your appearance and improve your self-esteem, but it’s important to have realistic expectations. Be open and honest with your provider about what you hope to achieve from cosmetic surgery. Follow your provider’s instructions carefully when recovering from any procedure. By staying healthy overall, you’ll increase your chances of healing properly and getting the results you want.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/28/2021.

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