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A Lay Person’s Guide to the Language of Facial Plastic Surgery

By Daniel Baker

Some people say the cosmetic surgery industry has its own language, medical and scientific jargon that can leave patients dazed and confused when trying to get information about aesthetic enhancement. In the hope of empowering our readers, we are providing this quick glossary of some terms you are likely to encounter when speaking to an aesthetic professional about cosmetic enhancement.

  • Asymmetry – A term describing the condition when one side is not identical to the other.
  • Augmentation – An increase in size.
  • Blepharoplasty – A procedure to change or re-contour the eyes, typically by removing excessive skin or fat. Some patients require fat to be repositioned or transferred to deficient areas.
  • Brow Lift – Any procedure that elevates the brow. Fat, fillers, and neurotoxins can also be used to raise the brow.
  • Chemical Peel – The application of a chemical to rejuvenate appearance by creating a controlled injury to the superficial structure of the skin. The peel may be surface only or may penetrate more deeply.
  • Collagen – The main component in connective tissue, skin, and wound healing which provides connection and support to tissues. Loss of collagen can result in a loss in support to tissues, which means sagging skin.
  • Coronal Brow Lift – A procedure with a large incision made in the position of a headband. It produces a large scar, which may lead to numbness and a relatively long recovery time.
  • Deep Face Plane – A facelift where dissection is located deep under the SMAS tissue in the face. Muscles and fat are then lifted and trimmed from this deeper level.
  • Dermabrasion – A controlled abrasion of the skin with a mechanical burr to remove superficial layers of the skin for facial rejuvenation and the improvement of the appearance of scars.
  • Endoscope – A specialised scope used to minimise the size of incisions.
  • Endoscopic lift – A lift, which suspends the face, neck and/or brow through a limited incision.
  • Fascia – A layer of connective tissue that surrounds muscles, blood vessels and nerves.
  • Fat Transplant/Fat Transfer – A procedure that moves fat from one area of the body to another, most often to add volume to the face to improve its appearance.
  • General Anaesthesia – Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
  • Glabella – The area in between the brows directly above where the root of the nose touches the forehead
  • Hyaluronic Acid – A natural substance found in connective tissue and skin which is commonly used in facial fillers and lip injections.
  • Intravenous Sedation – Medication administered by injection into a vein to help patients relax.
  • Lipoatrophy – The loss of fat tissue
  • Mentoplasty – A re-forming of the chin, sometimes using a prosthesis or chin implant. 
  • Midface lift – A procedure, which serves to help lift the mid face area only and reposition it with either sutures or an absorbable implant. 
  • Mini Lift – A facelift, which can mean a variety of different lifts but implies a quicker recovery. 
  • Nasojugal fold – A small groove seen between the nose and lower eye. 
  • Nasolabial folds – The tissue seen above the nasolabial line. 
  • Nasolabial lines – The lines that separate the cheeks from the lips, sometimes known as smile lines. 
  • Necrosis – Death of tissue, which may be seen in skin areas in facelift surgery. 
  • Neurotoxins – substances that can be injected into the face for a variety of treatments, including muscle paralysis to reduce wrinkles and decrease the production of sweat.
  • Rhinoplasty – The medical term for the surgery that reshapes the nose. It may be combined with a Septoplasty.
  • Rhytidectomy – A surgical procedure, also known as a facelift, to reduce sagging of the mid-face, jowls and neck.
  • Septoplasty – A surgery that reconfigures the cartilage between the two sides of the nose. It is often performed to improve breathing problems.
  • SMAS – A distinct facial layer, which can be pulled up and back to rejuvenate the ageing face.
  • Submental Incision – A small incision used in chin implantation, facial liposuction, and neck contouring.
  • Transconjuctival Blepharoplasty – A lower lid blepharoplasty where the incision is made in the conjunctiva or the inside of the eye.
  • Trichophytic Closure – A procedure whereby a small piece of superficial donor scalp is clipped off from one of the wound’s 2 edges before they are sewn back together. This technique allows the hair from the clipped edge to grow through the scar, which yields an even smaller, pencil-line thin scar that in many cases is not even detected on close inspection.