Overview of Cosmetic Procedures

Cosmetic procedures are performed for a variety of reasons. In some cases, they are used to boost a patient's self-confidence by improving undesired features (e.g., freckles, unwanted hair). They also can be used to remove a tattoo or diminish the effects of aging (e.g., wrinkles).

Cosmetic procedures are routinely performed to improve the contour of the face, diminish scars, and or control acne and blemishes. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), more than 14.6 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the United States in 2012.

Cosmetic procedures can be performed by a number of different types of medical practitioners, including the core specialties of dermatologic surgeons (also called dermasurgeons), dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and head and neck surgeons (ENTs), as well as non-core physicians, such as primary care doctors, vascular and general surgeons, emergency room physicians, and obstetrician/gynecologists (ob/gyns).

When considering whether or not to undergo a cosmetic procedure, patients should examine treatment options and investigate the prospective practitioner's background and credentials thoroughly. Some patients are better suited for particular cosmetic procedures than others. In many cases, a combination of procedures is used to achieve the desired results.

Qualified dermatologists and plastic surgeons are among the core specialists who have the training necessary to help patients decide on the best path to follow for various cosmetic procedures. The Fitzpatrick Classification Scale often is used to determine the patient's skin type, one of the many important factors that should be considered in choosing the safest cosmetic procedure, or combination of treatments, for each patient.

Once the decision has been made to undergo a cosmetic procedure, it is important to follow the physicians' instructions completely—before, during, and after treatment. Patient non-compliance is a common cause for suboptimal surgical results and complications.

Types of cosmetic procedures include the following:

Publication Review By: Christopher J. Dannaker, M.D.

Published: 26 Jul 2006

Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015