Monday Medical: Common myths about plastic surgery
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Editor’s Note: This is part 2 of a two-part series on plastic and reconstructive surgery. Part 1 covered common procedures done by plastic surgeons.
If you need plastic or reconstructive surgery, chances are, you have some questions.
Below, Dr. Aaron Frye, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center and UCHealth Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Clinic in Fort Collins, outlines some common myths about plastic surgery.
Myth No. 1: Plastic surgery is not covered by insurance.
“Many people have the notion that plastic surgery is only a cosmetic thing, and there’s no way insurance will cover it, but that’s the exact opposite of the truth,” Frye said.
Many surgeries are deemed medically necessary, especially when they cause pain or issues in someone’s regular life. Surgeries that may seem cosmetic but may actually be covered by insurance include breast reductions, removing excess skin from the eyelids, arms and thighs, and even tummy tucks.
Myth No. 2: If I see a plastic surgeon, I won’t have a scar.
If a cut or incision is made, there will always be a scar. But a plastic surgeon can help make sure it is as minor as possible.
“I take time and pride in making sure my wounds and incisions look as perfect as possible, so the scar is as least noticeable as possible,” Frye said.
Patients are often given a list of steps to follow after surgery to ensure scars look as good as possible, such as applying compression, massaging regularly and always using sunscreen.
“There are lots of little things we do to make scars look beautiful,” Frye said.
Myth No. 3: An incision will look great right after surgery.
When sewing up an incision or laceration, it’s important to raise or heap the edges up.
“If you heap the edges up, it acts like an accordion or spring. That creates a little give for when the incision moves or is under tension,” Frye said. “A patient isn’t going to like the way an incision looks for the first three weeks, but it will slowly flatten out and look great, so the rest of their life, they’ll love it.”
Alternatively, if an incision is sewn together and looks nice and flat at first, after a few months, it will heal indented.
Myth No. 4: Plastic surgeons don’t deal with skin cancer.
Removing skin cancers and taking biopsies of lymph nodes is a common procedure that plastic and reconstructive surgeons like Frye perform.
“We do a lot of skin cancer work,” Frye said. “A lot of times, we’ll take a cancer off and then do a reconstruction in the face with skin grafts and flaps. Sometimes, we need to take big areas of melanoma out on the face or arm or trunk.”
Myth No. 5: Plastic surgery is scary.
Patients are often fearful of any type of surgery, but Frye tries to keep things in perspective.
“We don’t operate on any major organs, like the brain or lungs or heart or intestines. The majority of what I do is on skin and soft tissue, like fat,” Frye said. “You will probably be sore afterwards, but the pain won’t be a 10 out of 10, and the biggest complications I see are superficial skin infections or a wound that’s not healing, both of which we can treat.”
“It’s reassuring to patients to know that, in terms of pain and discomfort, it’s going to be minimal.”
Susan Cunningham writes for UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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