Most Common Plastic Surgery Procedures on the Body

There are many reasons — medically and cosmetically — that you may elect to undergo a plastic surgery procedure.

You may want to smooth wrinkles, enhance your appearance, or remove varicose veins. Or maybe you’ve had an injury, trauma, or medical condition that compromises your body’s ability to function.

Whatever the reason, plastic surgery is more common than you may think and can help you live a better, more confident life.

Here’s what you should know about the two most common elective plastic surgery procedures on five key areas of the body.

Plastic Surgery Procedures of the Face

Eyelid surgery

Eyelid surgery, also known as blepharoplasty, tightens the skin of the eyelids. This improves their function and appearance. Eyelid surgery can treat:

  • Excess skin, wrinkles, or drooping skin of the lower eyelid.
  • Folds of skin or sagging skin over the lash line.
  • Heavy bags under the eyes.
  • Hooded upper eyelids.
  • Puffy eyelids.


Also known as a rhytidectomy, a facelift improves visible facial and neck aging. Sun damage, smoking, stress, heredity factors, and general aging contribute to face and neck skin sagging or falling over time. Aging also contributes to this. Surgical procedures are the only way to perform a facelift, which can help tighten:

  • Jowls in the cheek and jaw.
  • Sagging facial tissues.
  • Thinning facial fat.
  • Fold lines near the nose and mouth.
  • Loose skin in the neck.

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Plastic Surgery Procedures of the Breasts

There are two common ways to enhance your breasts with surgery — augmentation and reduction. Both procedures can help boost confidence and appearance, relieve pain, and create symmetry.

Breast augmentation

Breast augmentation, sometimes known as a “boob job,” is one of the most common elective plastic surgery procedures in the United States. Breast augmentation adds volume to the breasts using either a saline or silicone implant inserted into the breast pocket.

Another option is a fat-transfer breast augmentation, which involves a two-step process. The surgeon first takes unwanted fat from another part of the body through liposuction and then injects it into the breasts.

Breast augmentation can also help with breast shape and symmetry and evening out volume that might have changed after pregnancy or weight loss.

Typically, people use breast augmentation to:

  • Increase breast size, fullness, and projection.
  • Increase self-confidence.
  • Improve the balance of breast and hip contours.

While rare, complications from breast augmentation surgery can occur. You may encounter:

  • Scarring.
  • Infection.
  • Asymmetry.
  • Breast pain.
  • Nipple/breast sensation changes.
  • Rarely, implant rupture.

Breast reduction

A breast reduction surgery removes skin and tissue from the breast. It reshapes, elevates, and evens out the breasts.

Smaller, lighter breasts can make a world of difference. You may pursue this cosmetic surgery for many reasons, such as:

  • Confidence and self-image improvement.
  • Quality of life enhancement.
  • Back, neck, and shoulder pain reduction.
  • Breathing more freely.
  • Exercising more easily.

Talk to your health care provider and plastic surgeon about the risks and recovery before making cosmetic surgery decisions about your breasts.

Plastic Surgery Procedures of the Body


This elective cosmetic surgery removes excess skin from the lower part of the stomach, sometimes called an “apron.” This surgery does not involve a tummy tuck; instead, it relieves symptoms of overhanging skin.

The abdominal muscles are not tightened in a panniculectomy either. The goal is to create a smoother lower abdomen silhouette and increase self-confidence.

It is common to have extra weight in the abdomen, and there are many reasons for it, such as:

  • Family history.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Age.
  • Prior surgeries.
  • Significant weight loss.

Talk to your doctor before choosing this elective surgery. Maintaining a steady weight is essential to achieving positive results. Working toward extensive weight loss also is necessary.

Lower body lift

Body lifts improve body skin and tissue shape, removing dimpled surfaces and sagging skin. You can receive a body lift in your:

  • Inner or outer thighs.
  • Buttocks.
  • Abdominal area.

Many factors may contribute to skin sagging or dimpling, including:

  • Pregnancy.
  • Aging.
  • Sun damage.
  • Dramatic weight changes.
  • Genetic factors.

Plastic Surgery Procedures of the Hands

Carpal tunnel

Surgeons use carpal tunnel surgery to repair carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that occurs due to pressure on the median nerve within the wrist. Carpal tunnel symptoms include:

  • Numbness in fingers.
  • Pain or tingling sensation near the hand/wrist.
  • Weakness.
  • Aching.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be the result of overuse, fluid retention during pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, or an injury to the nerve in the carpal tunnel. Talk with your primary care doctor and plastic surgeon to discuss if this surgery option is right for you.

Trigger finger

When one of your fingers or thumbs becomes stuck in a bent, locked position, you have a trigger finger. In a healthy finger, the sheath that surrounds the tendon lubricates it, allowing the tendon to glide back and forth as you open your hand. Trigger finger can be very painful and reduce function in important activities.

Surgery for trigger finger is generally used as a last resort once other treatment methods — such as finger exercises, medications including steroid injections, and massage therapy — have failed. During surgery, a small incision in the palm releases the locked finger.

Reconstructive Plastic Surgery

Some plastic surgeries are not to enhance appearance or boost confidence. Some are to remove cancers and reconstruct the body to look and function as it did before cancer.

The two most common reconstructive plastic surgeries are:

Skin graft

If your skin cancer requires surgery, the doctor may close your wound with stitches if it is small enough. But if this is not an option, you will need a skin graft. In a skin graft procedure, surgeons take a piece of healthy skin from one part of your body and stitch it into your other skin to cover a wound.

Two layers make up the skin — the epidermis, an outer layer, and the dermis, a thicker inner layer. If you need a full-thickness skin graft, the surgeon takes both layers. Doctors can take full-thickness grafts from an area of the body with excess skin, such as behind the ears, the upper arm, abdomen, neck, or groin.

Surgeons shave a layer of skin from an area, such as the upper arm, buttock, or thigh, in split-thickness grafts.

You may also undergo skin graft surgery if burns, injury, or illness have caused a part of your body to lose its protective skin covering. Most skin grafts involve general anesthesia, meaning you’ll be asleep throughout the procedure and not feel any pain.

Recovering from a skin graft usually takes five days to two weeks, depending on the type and severity of the graft. Your doctor will monitor the wound to ensure the grafted skin has “taken” to the new area and has connected with the blood supply.

While there may be some pain and sensitivity, the new skin will function just like the skin on other parts of your body over time. Skin grafting may cause some scarring or discoloration.

Breast reconstruction

Women with breast cancer who have chosen any type of mastectomy surgery as part of their treatment may opt for a breast reconstruction surgery that will rebuild and reshape their breast(s).

The two main versions of breast reconstruction surgery include tissue (flap) reconstruction and implant reconstruction. The surgeon may use procedures together in some cases if they think it will create the best results.

Tissue flap reconstruction uses tissue from other parts of your body to rebuild the breast. Tissue flaps look and feel more natural than breast implants and are usually taken from your buttocks, thighs, back, or stomach. Tissue flap surgery typically requires a longer surgery and recovery time, but many women choose this option because they like a more natural look and feel and don’t mind the natural aging of the tissue.

Implant reconstruction typically consists of two surgeries: The first is to place a tissue expander, and the second is to replace the tissue expander with a breast implant once reaching the desired size. Surgeons normally use silicone to make implants, but they can also fill them with saline.

It’s important to talk with your surgeon about the different implant options to ensure you choose the one that’s right for you.

What Plastic Surgery Cannot Do

While cosmetic plastic surgery can improve appearance and/or function, it’s important to remember that it cannot stop or reverse the aging process altogether. Nor can it change your fundamental appearance.

Surgeons should not treat body surgeries as solutions for weight loss.

Contact your primary care doctor and consult your plastic surgeon before deciding about face- or body-altering surgeries.

To learn more about plastic surgery services at UPMC in Central PA, visit our website.,the%20finger%20to%20glide%20again.

About Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is an option for both cosmetic and reconstructive needs, and the UPMC Department of Plastic Surgery can help with both. Whatever improvement you seek, we can create an individualized treatment plan to help you achieve your desired results. Through our research and clinical trials, we have used cutting-edge techniques in our treatments for more than 70 years. We also have one of the largest academic plastic surgery departments in the United States and operate one of the region’s top centers for restorative medicine.

Plastic surgery is an option for both cosmetic and reconstructive needs. The UPMC Department of Plastic Surgery can help with both. We will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan to help you achieve your desired results. Through our research and clinical trials, we have used cutting-edge techniques in our treatments for more than 70 years. We also have one of the largest academic plastic surgery departments in the United States and operate one of the region’s top centers for restorative medicine. Our goal is to improve your quality of life. Find a provider near you.