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Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Resources & FAQs

At Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, our goal is to provide you with the highest-quality and safest medical care to help you feel confident and beautiful. Below you’ll find useful information about plastic and reconstructive surgery, including answers to frequently asked questions.

Choosing quality care for cosmetic and reconstructive surgery

When making the choice to have surgery, it’s important to consider the credentials of the physician, surgeon and care team you will be working with. Our team includes board-certified physicians and licensed aestheticians who have expert training in the services they provide.

Our hospitals and medical centers are accredited

The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization, and the nation's largest health care regulating organization. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide and reflects an organization's commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

High patient satisfaction

The personal experience of other patients can help you predict what your experience might be like at a particular health care organization. Many organizations gather information from their patients regarding their experiences, including outcomes of care, respect of individual needs, and whether they would refer their friends and family for care.

Frequently asked questions

  • Plastic surgery is the medical discipline devoted to restoring or correcting form, function and appearance of face and body. The term comes from the Greek and Latin words denoting "the art of molding" and traces back to the mid-1800s. Most plastic surgical procedures are not cosmetic in nature, but rather are reconstructive procedures to treat burns, birth defects, and survivors of accidents and deforming illnesses.

  • The educational paths for plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons are distinct. After completing medical school, physicians specializing in plastic surgery perform residency in plastic surgery. They then can earn certification through the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Once gaining certification, they can pursue further training in cosmetic procedures through fellowships, workshops and seminars.

    There is no specific residency for cosmetic surgery. Physicians pursuing this specialty typically perform residency in general surgery or subspecialty for head and neck or dermatological surgery. After earning certification, they hone their skills through fellowships, workshops and seminars to qualify for certification by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.

  • Board certification ensures patients that their doctor has successfully met strict criteria demonstrating knowledge, skill and proficiency in a particular medical specialty. Some surgeons are certified by both the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.

  • If you are in good health and have an appearance issue that is addressable by an ever-increasing range of technologies, then cosmetic surgery may be a great solution for you. The key to a successful outcome is determining realistic expectations. You should also learn the recovery regimes to make sure you can reasonably adhere to them. 

    Other factors to consider are your and your family's medical history, your age, and any existing conditions that may increase likelihood of complications during surgery or interfere with recovery.

  • All surgery involves some level of risk. Through pre-surgical exam and assessment, your surgeon can determine your physical readiness for general anesthesia and the procedure.

  • The more invasive your surgical procedure(s), generally the longer your recovery. Medications can keep you keep you comfortable while pain subsides. Rhinoplasty (nose surgery) can keep you home for two to three weeks. Full recovery will take several months or more. Facial lifts and augmentations can limit activity for a week to 10 days, with full recovery within a month. Body contouring procedures such as liposuction require a week of home recovery as well as up to six weeks of wearing compressive bandages. Breast procedures generally require minimal home recovery. However, it may take up to six weeks to resume any significant lifting. Your surgeon can fully detail your likely recovery progression during consultation.

  • There are no hard-and-fast rules regarding age. Each patient is evaluated individually. Age is one factor among several your surgeon will consider in determining your fitness for surgery.

  • Costs vary by procedure. While surgical improvement can be a significant investment, it may be more affordable than you anticipate. Learn more about payment considerations and contact us for specific cost information and financing alternatives.

  • Reconstructive procedures for burns, injury and congenital defects usually qualify for some level of coverage. Procedures to enhance normal face or body features general do not qualify. Be sure to check with your provider.

  • Most procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you are discharged on the same day you check in for surgery. If a patient lives alone or is undergoing multiple procedures, overnight hospitalization may be recommended to ensure proper postoperative care and pain management.

  • Yes. Because a face-lift involves disconnection of underlying tissue through surgical means to tighten skin, it is indeed surgery. In-office wrinkle-reducing treatments are not considered surgery because the affected tissue remains intact.

  • Scars are a part of any surgery. However, they can be concealed through careful placement of incisions. Your surgeon can detail methods of minimizing scarring during consultation.

  • Making your results look natural is the high art of plastic surgery. New technologies are facilitating natural-looking results in even extensive procedures. Your surgeon should give you an accurate idea of the end result during consultation. View our photo gallery to see before and after photos of our patients.

  • Upon arrival, you first will be asked to complete patient information and medical history forms. A nurse will take your weight and blood pressure, and review your medical history, medications, and purpose of your visit. Your doctor will conduct a medical evaluation and take photos. Together, you both will decide on the best course to reach your desired result. Your doctor will go over any pre-surgical regimes. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health's surgical consultations are obligation-free.

  • Your surgeon will specify all pre-surgical regimes during consultation. Prescription medications may be restricted, as well as aspirin and other blood-thinning medications. A big part of preparation is planning your recovery. Make sure you have the support you will need while your movement is limited. If you live alone, you may consider staying at hotel or facility that caters to surgical recovery. Professional home care may also be an option.

  • As a surgical patient, your most important duty is to arrive healthy and ready for surgery. Here is a checklist to ensure the best chance at a successful outcome:

    • Stop smoking immediately, and at least six weeks before surgery.
    • Stop alcohol consumption at least 10 days prior to surgery.
    • Stop intake of aspirin and other blood-thinning medications at least 10 days prior to surgery.
    • Adjust medications according to doctor's instructions.
    • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
    • Limit caffeine intake and drink plenty of water.
    • Get plenty of rest and exercise moderately.
    • Inform your doctor's office if you become ill or develop any rashes, wounds or sores ahead of surgery.
    • Stop all eating and drinking by midnight.
    • Shower with an antibacterial soap the day before and the day of surgery, but avoid scrubbing targeted areas.
    • Try to get a good night's rest.
    • Do not shave the surgical area or apply moisturizing lotion.
    • Wear minimal or no makeup to the hospital.
    • Wear loose fitting, button-front clothing, and leave all jewelry and valuables at home.
    • Arrive at the hospital one hour prior to your scheduled surgery time.
  • Upon arrival at the hospital or surgical facility, you will be asked to sign a consent form verifying the procedure to be performed and that you are aware of the risks. All information regarding the surgery will be double-checked. A pre-surgical evaluation will be performed. The areas of your body to be operated upon will be marked as final confirmation before administration of anesthesia.

  • After surgery, you are moved to a recovery room for around an hour before being transferred to a post-surgical area. If you are an outpatient, a nurse will discharge you as soon as your condition is stable, usually two to four hours after surgery. You should then get your prescriptions filled. You must have a ride home. You will need someone to help you for the first 24 to 48 hours, depending upon the extent of your procedure. Stay in bed for the first day, and take medications as directed. It's best to eat some soft, bland food, even if you aren't hungry. Drink plenty of fluids. And call your doctor should you experience unusual symptoms.

  • Alert your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following:

    • Sudden increased pain in the area of surgery
    • Sudden swelling at the surgical site
    • Sudden numbness in any extremity
    • Fever greater than 101.5 degrees
    • Wound separation
    • Bleeding or oozing from the incision
    • Swelling and/or sharp pain in either leg
    • Persistent nausea or vomiting
    • Inability to urinate
    • Any other unusual symptoms of concern
  • Most patients return to work and normal activities in a week to 10 days. More extensive procedures may keep you home for two weeks or more. You should avoid driving for at least a week, and never drive after taking pain medication. Your stomach can be your guide toward resumption of your normal diet. Generally, you should sponge bath to avoid disturbing bandages and dressing until they’re removed. Depending upon your procedure, it may take four to six weeks or more to resume vigorous activity that may disturb tissue still in the healing process. Your doctor can give you specific recovery instructions at your post-surgery appointment.

  • We offer revision surgery for patients who have had a previous surgery and may be unhappy with their results or are experiencing pain. Our providers will discuss options on a case-by-case basis.

  • Generally, the answer is no. The goal of cosmetic surgery is to bring out the most attractive you. We are all limited by our own genetics. The most important aspect of reaching a successful outcome is setting a realistic objective. Your surgeon can give you a good idea of the likely outcome. While your doctor will make every effort to achieve your desires, the ultimate judge of the success of your procedure is you.

Schedule a consultation

Have more questions? We’re happy to walk through your options for plastic and reconstructive surgery. Please call 206-223-6831 to schedule a consultation.