News | Published April 9, 2013 | Written by Emily Peterson, MD, reconstructive & cosmetic surgery, Mount Nittany Physician Group

Top nine myths – and one enduring truth – about plastic surgery

We all know that rumors and myths can endure about lots of subjects. Plastic surgery isn’t immune to a host of rumors. Let me dispel the most common myths that I’ve encountered by giving you the fact behind the fiction.

9. All cosmetic surgeons are plastic surgeons.    

Only surgeons who are trained in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons are plastic surgeons. There are other specialties that do cosmetic procedures (such as ENT or dermatology). There is no training or board certification in “Cosmetic Surgery,” meaning that anyone (pediatrics, OB/GYN, anesthesiology, etc.) can claim to be a cosmetic surgeon. It’s important to do your homework when considering plastic or reconstructive surgery of any kind by making sure that your surgeon is a board-certified plastic surgeon accredited by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons.

8. Breast implants last forever.

Breast implants are not considered lifetime devices. Eventually, they will likely need to be removed or replaced. Patients undergoing breast augmentation should assume at some point they will need their implants exchanged or removed and discuss this issue with their plastic surgeon. Things to ask as you are assessing your surgery and your surgeon: surveillance plans to monitor your implants, rupture rates, and exchange/removal plan.

7. Plastic surgery got its name because patients having this now have “fake” or “plastic” parts. 

The specialty name “Plastic Surgery” is derived from the Greek word “plastikos,” meaning “to form or mold.” People often think plastic surgery uses plastic, or that it is “fake” in some way, but that’s not true.

6. Plastic surgery is only performed to improve someone’s appearance.

While a significant percentage of plastic surgery is done to improve appearance, plastic surgeons also can help restore function due to injuries or accidents or after major surgery for example, hand or leg reconstruction, repair of facial bone fractures, post-burn repair, or post-cancer breast reconstruction.

5. Breast implants cause diseases like lupus.        

In 1993, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a moratorium on silicone breast implants due to a large number of women with breast implants reporting diagnosis of autoimmune diseases. This was studied and it was determined there was no higher incidence of autoimmune diseases in women with implants versus women without. In 2006, the FDA approved use of silicone implants again for cosmetic use. These new implants are a more solid “gel.” Recently, there has been concern over a lymphoma (ALCL) being related to implants, but this is a very rare cancer, occurs very rarely in implant patients, and is limited to the area directly around the implant. The FDA is currently investigating this link.

4. Only wealthy people have plastic surgery performed.

Plastic surgery is more affordable than most people think, and most practices offer financing, which is sometimes interest free. People of all ages, income levels, and backgrounds get plastic surgery. And, yes, men get plastic surgery, too!

3. Vitamin E is good for scars.

Studies have shown that scars receiving Vitamin E have a worse appearance, not an improvement. Plus, about 30 percent of patients develop a rash at the site of application. For best results, we recommend a silicone scar gel be massaged into the scar twice a day for three months.

2. Minimally invasive plastic surgical procedures give better results.

Most minimally invasive plastic surgery procedures give minimal results. For example, if a patient desires a facelift, a “mini-lift” may sound appealing, but it is unlikely to achieve the end result a patient desires. For best results, discuss your goals and concerns with your plastic surgeon so together you can agree on an approach that will best meet those goals and alleviate any concerns.

1.  There won’t be a scar if my procedure is done by a plastic surgeon.

All skin injury results in a scar. Plastic surgeons are very precise in planning and making incisions and placing sutures to minimize the appearance of scars. Part of the planning process includes providing patients with recommendations about how to care for scars after surgery. It’s important that you follow your physician’s treatment plan before, during and after surgery in order to achieve your desired results.

And the one enduring truth…

Plastic surgeons are often consulted by other specialists like dermatologists, orthopedic surgeons, and general surgeons.

Plastic surgery isn’t just breast implants, tummy tucks, and face lifts. Board certified plastic surgeons are highly skilled surgeons who are often called on by other physicians to remove and reconstruct skin cancers, treat complex wounds that result after complications from orthopedic surgery, and work in conjunction with general surgeons to provide breast reconstructive services and so much more.