What is the difference between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery?

Cosmetic surgery is performed to reshape normal structures of the body in order to
improve the patient'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 congential defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma,
infection, tumors or disease. It is generally performed to improve function, but may also be
done to approximate a normal appearance.
Reconstructive surgery is generally covered by most health insurance policies although coverage for specific procedures and levels of coverage may vary greatly. There are a number of "gray areas" in coverage for plastic surgery that sometimes require special consideration by an insurance carrier. These areas usually involved surgical operations which may be reconstructive or cosmetic, depending on each patient's situation. For example, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) - a procedure normally performed to achieve cosmetic improvement may be covered if the eyelids are drooping severely and obscuring a patient's vision. The following brief discussions regarding the selected topics represent just an introduction to these procedures. The best way to address your particular concerns is to make an appointment and fully discuss a particular procedure. When reviewing information about specific plastic surgery procedures, it is important to understand that the circumstances and experience of every individual are unique. If you are considering plastic surgery, please ask your plastic surgeon for further information about the particular procedure and what you can expect.

Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is very popular in America today, but it remains a serious decision that requires careful consideration. You should feel comfortable with your surgeon and your understanding of the proposed procedure(s) before embarking on the process. Among the questions you should ask yourself prior to having cosmetic surgery, are the following: 1. What are your goals or desires regarding cosmetic surgery and are they realistic? 2. Can you devote sufficient time to researching the procedure, to having the procedure done, and to your recovery time? 3. Do you have any medical or general health/emotional problems that need to be considered? Could this increase the risk of surgery? 4. Can you afford the cost of the surgery? 5. Have you checked into the credentials and experience of the surgeon and have you gotten several opinions? Dr. Jerry L. Lugger and the staff at the Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Centre of the Southwest strongly suggest that you carefully review these questions and select a surgeon that is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Find out more about certified surgeons at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Web site (www.plasticsurgery.org)

What do I need to know about Reconstructive Surgery?

Reconstructive surgery is usually performed to restore or enhance a region or portions of the body which has been affected by disease such as cancer or infection, or by trauma or congenital/developmental problems. These procedures are often covered by insurance, however, if there is some doubt, they can be predetermined with the insurance carrier. The plastic surgeon often uses his expertise in aesthetic surgery to enhance the results of his reconstructive efforts: in this case, form and function can go hand in hand.

I am nervous about the anesthesia I will receive in the surgeon's office/facility. What should I be aware of?

The goal of ASPS and ASAPS (the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) is to have all of their member's facilities certified by a recognized certifying body such as Medicare, AAAAPSF, etc. You should discuss the type of anesthesia for your procedure with Dr. Lugger and his staff prior to your surgery. Also, the person giving your anesthesia should be and will be an anesthesiologist, a certified nurse anesthetist, or a physician with credentials in anesthesia in any procedures performed by Dr. Lugger.

Can I exercise after surgery?

You should not start exercising until given the go-ahead by Dr. Lugger. Individual recommendations depend on the specific surgery and your personal condition. For example, after breast augmentation it is best to wait 3-4 weeks before resuming vigorous exercise to help prevent complications such as hematomas.

What Information Should I Obtain for My Records?

If you are going to be fitted with a breast implant, there are several important items of information you should have for your personal records prior to your surgery. • Patient information sheet for women considering breast implants: You may obtain this from your doctor. • Manufacturer's sticker: A copy of the sticker identifies the brand of the implant you will receive, its size and the manufacturer's lot number. This data should be part of your personal medical record. It will be useful if you should have problems following surgery or seek care from another health care provider. • Package insert: You should also receive a copy of the manufacturer's package insert for the breast implant you will receive. Each package insert contains important information about the precautions to be taken and the risks associated with the specific brand of implant. You should use this insert as a basis for discussion about the surgery with your doctor, and keep it for future reference. • Informed consent form: This must be signed prior to surgery. It is advisable well in advance of your surgery to obtain from your doctor a copy of the informed consent form so that you may better understand the risks involved and ask questions. This should be kept as part of your records. • Insurance coverage: Some insurance companies reimburse breast cancer patients for the costs of breast reconstruction after mastectomy including the cost of breast implants. In general, insurance companies do not cover costs associated with breast augmentation. Many insurance companies do not cover explantation. Before surgery, be sure to get in writing answers from your insurance company to these questions: Does my policy cover the costs of the implant surgery, the implant, the anesthesia, and other related hospital costs? To what extent? Does it cover removal and/or replacement of the implants if this becomes necessary? To what extent? Does it cover the cost of detecting or treating a complication as a result of either the implant or the reconstruction? To what extent?

How Can a Woman Find Out What Kind of Breast Implant She Has?

This information should be in her medical records. She can contact the hospital or facility where she had the surgery, or ask her surgeon. Women with implants who want this information should seek it as soon as possible, because physicians and hospitals do not keep medical records indefinitely.

How Long Will My Breast Implants Last?

Implants age over time and may need to be replaced. Although your implant may last for many years, you should not expect it to last indefinitely.

Should I Tell Other Doctors in the Future About My Breast Implants?

Yes. Whenever you give a medical history, be sure to inform the doctor that you have breast implants, just as you should tell him or her about other previous surgical procedures.

What Is the Proper Way of Examining My Breasts?

Like all women, those with breast implants should perform regular breast self-examinations and have regular examinations by their health care provider trained in breast examination. For women with breast implants, these examinations take on added importance because they can help to reveal complications that might be due to the implants. Women with implants should examine their breasts each month so they can detect changes. For women who menstruate, the best time to examine the breasts is two or three days after the menstrual period ends, when the breasts are least likely to be tender or swollen. Women who no longer menstruate should examine their breasts at the same time each month. To examine your breasts, first stand in front of a mirror and look for anything unusual, such as changes in the shape or appearance of your breasts or nipples. Then lie down on your back to allow for a better examination of tissue which flattens and spreads out for deeper palpation. With your right arm raised above your head, use the flat surface of your fingertips of your left hand to feel your right breast. Move your fingers in one of three ways: in a circular motion in a clockwise fashion; in strips (like mowing the lawn); or in a radiant pattern. Feel around the breast to feel for any unusual lump, swelling, or mass under the skin of your right breast. You should also feel for any swelling of glands or lumps in your armpit. Follow the same procedure for the left breast, (using the right hand to examine the left breast, with the left hand raised above the head). Pay particular attention to changes in the firmness, size, or shape of your breasts. Be attentive to pain, tenderness, or color changes in the breast area, or any discharge or unusual sensation around the nipple. Any of these changes should be reported promptly to a physician, as should any other concerns about your breasts.

Do I Need to Get Regular Mammograms?

Women with breast implants who are in an age group for which routine mammograms are recommended should be sure to have these examinations at the recommended intervals. (Those who have had breast cancer surgery on both breasts should ask their doctors whether mammograms are still necessary.) But women should be aware that breast implants may interfere with the detection of cancer and that mammograms do not detect implant ruptures or leakage. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has been approved by the FDA for detecting rupture or leakage of an implant. The FDA has not been presented with data showing the effectiveness of other methods, such as ultrasound or computed axial tomography (CAT) scans, when used to detect rupture or leakage. You should discuss the best method of detection of rupture or leakage with your doctor.

Is There a Test to Detect Silicone in the Body or to Determine Whether an Individual Is Sensitive to Silicone?

There is no FDA-approved, standardized test to detect silicone in the body. Determining that silicon or silicone is present in body fluids does not indicate whether a person is sensitive to these substances or at risk for any specific disease. (Silicon is an element that is one component of silicone and is one of the most abundant elements on the earth. Everyone is exposed to silicone.) Some researchers reportedly have developed a test that can detect antibodies to silicone in blood. However, the validity of the test is controversial. Even if such antibodies were detected, the significance would be unclear. Antibodies to silicone would not necessarily indicate that silicone is harmful, or that a person would necessarily have an adverse reaction to it. Some researchers have also reportedly developed a test to detect if a woman's immune system is sensitive to silica, a constituent of silicone breast implants and reportedly a breakdown product of silicone gel. The validity of this test also has been questioned, and it is not clear at this time whether the results of this test have clinical significance. The FDA has not approved for general marketing any tests to determine silicone in the body, or to determine whether a woman's immune system is sensitized to any constituent of silicone breast implants. Even if simple techniques to detect silicone were available, they might not be useful in detecting a rupture, because small amounts of silicone ordinarily bleed even from intact implants. Further, since silicone is found in food and many other products, including commonly used medicines and cosmetics, the tests would not easily determine whether the silicone came from the implant or another source. Some researchers have also reported that a test called the Anti-Polymer Antibody Assay may be used to distinguish among women with implants who have signs and symptoms of disease ranging from mild to severe. However, the biologic basis for the assay has not been established. The test remains to be validated by additional studies and, at this time, the clinical significance of the test results remains unclear.

Should a Woman Have Her Breast Implants Removed?

If a woman is experiencing symptoms that may be related to her implants, she should contact her physician or surgeon in order to discuss the best course of action. This discussion should include the recognition that the cosmetic results of explantation may be unsatisfactory to some women. Source: US Food and Drug Administration, revised/posted 9/8/99. Getting Started If you are considering a cosmetic medical procedure, consult a board-certified plastic surgeon about the process, risks, recovery time and costs. For confidential, personalized information at no cost or obligation, use the Find A Specialist tool to find a board-certified plastic surgeon near you. It's your first step to looking and feeling better today! Share your thoughts and questions in the discussion Forums. How will I know that? To find out about a surgeon's qualifications, check on his or her certification. One of the best signs of a surgeon's competence is certification by a national surgical board approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties. All board-certified surgeons have completed approved residency training programs and have passed rigorous specialty examinations. Dr. Jerry L. Lugger is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the American Board of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, and has the CAQ (Certificate of Added Qualifications) in Hand Surgery ("Hand Boards").

How will my nose look after a rhinoplasty?

Initially, there is a variable amount of swelling and bruising that may take a week or two to clear, but can be improved with the use of make-up or cover creams. The procedure is designed to reduce excess bone and cartilage removing lumps, humps, and irregularities to produce a smooth, straight, and usually "smaller" appearance. The goal of modern rhinoplasty is to individualize the procedure giving a balanced, refined look to the nose and to avoid drastic size reductions that might cause nasal airway breathing problems.

I have trouble breathing through my nose. Will my insurance company pay for a rhinoplasty?

Nasal airway breathing problems often result from an abnormality in the internal framework of the nose such as a deviated nasal septum or collapse of cartilage near the "respiratory valve." Under such circumstances, where surgery is performed to improve functional aspects of the nose, your insurance company may cover the cost of this particular situation. However, rhinoplasty itself is a cosmetic procedure and is not covered. A septorhinoplasty combining the two procedures can be done at the same time, however, efforts must be made to delineate these as separate components of the procedure.

What about bruising and swelling after rhinoplasty?

This is variable depending in large part on the complexity of the surgery and whether bone is involved. However, a common purple discoloration and swelling usually clear within a week or two. A splint may be applied to your nose in addition to tape to protect the nose while it heals. Final nasal tip swelling may take a number of months to disappear.

How long does the rhinoplasty surgical procedure last and what about type of anesthesia used?

Rhinoplasty usually takes 1-3 hours depending again on the complexity of the case. Either general or local anesthesia may be used and the surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis.

Does my nose grow after surgery?

By the teenage years, the nose does not continue to grow, however, with age, it tends to elongate and droop. The final shape of the nose usually lasts a lifetime and bumps and deformities do not usually recur. However the post-op nose can still undergo the changes of aging.

Where are the incisions made for nose surgery?

Rhinoplasty incisions are usually placed within the nose so they are hidden. Any external incisions are usually hidden in creases and are not made over the dorsum or tip of the nose.


Additional questions regarding rhinoplasty can be addressed directly to Dr. Lugger and his staff; simply contact the office for a consultation.



Below you will find the answers to questions we hear most often. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you have that are not answered in this site. We find that a consult with Dr. Lugger will give you insight to many possibilities.