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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Plastic Surgery

Will plastic surgery leave a scar?

Any surgery requiring a cut in the skin will result in a scar. Plastic surgeons use techniques to leave the best possible scar. When possible, the scars can be hidden on areas of the body or face that are more difficult to see.  Scars start out red and elevated but soften, lighten in colour and flatten over the course of a year. UV light can cause scars to darken therefore the best thing you can do for a maturing scar is to protect it from sunlight with sunscreen or clothing.  

What surgeries are covered by the Government of Ontario?

Not all procedures are covered. Aesthetic surgeries such as liposuction are not covered. There are also procedures that may be medically necessary but are not covered. Examples of this would be removal of a benign cyst or medications such as collagenase that is injected for Dupuytren's disease. You can consult with your private insurance provider about possible coverage for medically necessary, uncovered by OHIP procedures.

The following common procedures require prior government approval: Breast reduction, panniculectomy, traumatic rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty (with evidence of visual field obstruction).

What effect does smoking have on healing?

Smoking has a profound impact on your ability to heal from surgery. Your incisions will take longer to heal, will be more prone to infection, dehiscence and additional scarring, and your anesthetic risk in surgery is higher. Quitting smoking prior to surgery will shorten your recovery period and will result in a better overall result. Certain elective procedures cannot be performed in smokers due to associated risks.

What is the ideal body weight for surgery?

Body mass index gives a rough estimate of surgical risk particularly for body contouring procedures including breast surgeries  and complex reconstructions.  You can calculate your body mass index by clicking on this link:

 

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm

A body mass index of 30 or above is considered obese. While there are many individual considerations unique to each person, a body mass index of under 30 will result in a decreased risk of infection and incision breakdown (dehiscence). Some elective procedures are only safe with body mass index under 30 while others can be considered up to BMI 35 with patient understanding and acceptance of additional risk.

When can I go back to work?

The answer to this is highly variable and depends a great deal on the individual case. This is an important part of the consultation process and preparing for surgery. As a rough estimate:

 

Carpal tunnel release: No lifting more than 10lbs with operated on hand for 1 month. The palm remains sore for 2-3 months post surgery.

 

Base of thumb arthritis surgery: No use of operated on hand for work purposes for 2-3 months.

 

Breast reduction, gynecomastia, and other body work: Allow 4-6 weeks. Full recovery often takes 2-3 months to regain the strength and energy that you had prior to surgery.

 

Skin excision procedures: Depends on size of excision and reconstruction needed. Skin grafts generally take 2-3 weeks to heal but may take many months on the lower leg of an elderly patient. Procedures of the face, forehead, nose and eyes can result in bruising that may take several weeks to resolve.

What about Photos?

We often take pictures (with consent) as part of the medical record and for educational purposes. Photos are not shared for social media or advertisement purposes. Some patients have consented to have their before and after photos available for review by prospective patients. These are not available online but can be viewed upon request.

Why the "Plastic" in Plastic Surgery?

The word "plastic" comes from the Greek work plastikos, meaning "to mold or shape". Many of the first plastic surgeries were developed to close a difficult wound or replace tissue lost due to injury or cancer. These procedures often involved the formation of a skin flap to reshape or mold the defect.