Cosmetic Surgery FAQ

At Northwestern Specialists in Plastic Surgery, we provide a variety of cosmetic procedures, including breast augmentations, rhinoplasty, liposuction, and more. However, we would never expect a patient to come in with no questions about the procedure they are thinking about. Browse through our FAQ’s, and schedule a consultation with us if you are interested in learning more about a cosmetic treatment.

Cosmetic Surgery Treatments

Do I need a consultation for surgery?

We always recommend a consultation before surgery. It is important for us to meet with you in person to discuss your goals and review your options for surgery. This allows us to come up with an individualized plan unique to your surgical needs.

What is involved in a cosmetic surgery consultation? 

When you come in for a consultation you’ll be meeting with our board certified plastic surgeons and physician assistants to review your goals for surgery. We will discuss which procedures are best suited for you and can assist with achieving your goals. We will review your medical history and discuss a surgical plan, as well as perform a physical examination of the areas that concern you. Finally, you’ll meet with our surgical coordinator to discuss financial responsibility and review a scheduling timeline for surgery.

Does my insurance cover cosmetic surgery procedures?

Insurance does not cover procedures that are considered cosmetic. We can discuss this in more detail at your consultation. We do offer financing options including Care Credit to help with the costs of cosmetic surgery.

How do I prepare for a cosmetic surgery consultation?

You can best prepare for your consultation by putting together a list of questions for your surgeon to ask during your consultation. Be prepared to review your medical history with us so we can ensure your eligibility for surgery and provide the best plan of care for your surgical needs.

What should I do before a cosmetic procedure?

Before a cosmetic surgery you can take most of your normal daily medications up until surgery day. It is best to avoid any blood thinners including NSAIDs about a week before surgery if possible. The surgery center or hospital will call you the day before with specific timing, including when to stop drinking and eating before your surgery time. You will need a ride home after your surgery, but in most cases you should be able to perform all your daily activities on your own even later that day!

What can I do if I’m unhappy with previous cosmetic surgery?

If you have had cosmetic surgery in the past but are unsatisfied with the results we would be happy to see you for a consultation. There are many revision procedures that can be performed in order to help improve your situation. We are here to help!

What is the difference between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery?

Cosmetic surgery would be considered any procedure that creates a more aesthetically pleasing appearance, but is usually not medically necessary. Cosmetic surgery for example would be a breast augmentation or a tummy tuck procedure. Reconstructive surgery is often considered a medically necessary procedure, such as a hernia repair or breast reconstruction following a breast cancer diagnosis. However it can also describe revisionary surgery that may be necessary due to congenital defects or other surgeries. There is significant overlap here, as we are always concerned about aesthetic outcomes for every patient regardless of cosmetic or reconstructive reasons.

Is cosmetic surgery safe for me?

Your Physician will inform you if you are a good candidate for surgery. Upon review of your health history, your team of medical doctors, surgeons and anesthesiologists will ensure that you are medically cleared to have your desired procedure/s performed. Your physician should never allow you to undergo a procedure that is not safe for you.

How much time should I plan for recovery after cosmetic surgery?

You should feel a lot better within a day or two after cosmetic surgery. Typically, 1-2 weeks is enough time to “take off.” It will usually take a few months for final results, depending on the procedure.

When can I return to regular exercise after cosmetic surgery?

After cosmetic surgery, you can return to normal daily activities right away (showering, walking, cooking, etc). You are generally cleared to return to light physical activity/exercise about 1-2 weeks after your procedure. Typically, depending on the exact nature of your surgery, you are cleared to return to normal exercise with no little to no restrictions at 6-8 weeks post surgery. Every body is different, so these may vary from patient to patient.

Facial Procedures

What is rhinoplasty?

Rhinoplasty is a procedure that can change the appearance of your nose by altering the size and shape surgically. Rhinoplasty procedures can also improve the internal structure of the nose allowing for improved breathing.

Am I a candidate for rhinoplasty?

If you dislike the appearance of your nose you may consider rhinoplasty. This procedure can change the shape and appearance of the nose, while also improving breathing difficulty or a deviated septum.

What is the recovery from rhinoplasty like?

Rhinoplasty surgery can make your breathing worse before it gets better, but most often that is only for the first few days. After the surgery you may feel stuffy or have a headache, but often this can be controlled with non-narcotic pain medication. We usually describe the downtime as about one week, as that is when you will see us in the office for your splint to be removed. The majority of the bruising should resolve within the first week or two.

Will I have scarring after rhinoplasty?

The incisions created during a rhinoplasty procedure are often on the inside of the nose. Therefore, it is common that there is very little visible scarring with this procedure. There is often a small scar right under the crease of the nose that fades nicely with time and is not visible to others.

What is a facelift?

Facelift surgery involves techniques that improve skin laxity of the face and reduce lines around the mouth. Face and necklifts are customized procedures that counteract the signs of aging. They often include facial fat grafting to volumize the face as well.

Am I a candidate for a face lift?

Facelift surgery can reduce the lines and creases around the nose and mouth, while lifting the tissues that have become stretchy or loose with age. If you feel that your skin has become looser and you are noticing more lines and wrinkles, facelift surgery may be right for you! During this surgery, we also restore volume to the face by doing facial fat grafting. If you are experiencing these issues but are looking for something with less downtime, non-surgical options for facelifts are also possible, which we can discuss in more detail at your consult.

Will I have scarring after a facelift?

As with any surgery, scarring is inevitable but we make many efforts to create the best possible scar. With facelift procedures, your surgeon may strategically create incisions along areas that may be camouflaged by your ears, hair, etc. Your incision site/s will be red/pinkish in color during your initial recovery period, and over time will likely fade into a thin white line. We also have several treatments ranging from topical scar gels to laser treatments that may aid in the appearance of scars.

What is eyelid surgery?

Eyelid surgery can improve excess skin, tissue, and fat to reveal a more youthful appearing eye. Eyelid surgery can be performed on the upper eyelids, lower eyelids, or both in order to create a more youthful contour to the eyelid area.

What can I expect after eyelid surgery?

After eyelid surgery, you can expect to have some mild bruising and swelling since the eyelids have relatively thin skin and can be more sensitive. The bruising and swelling typically lasts 1-2 weeks, and should improve with time. You may have a pinkish tone to the incision site, which will fade to a thin, white line over time. Eyelid procedures are very easily camouflaged with the use of eye glasses/sunglasses. You may experience sensitivity to light and your eyes may be slightly drier than usual. This will be alleviated with the use of artificial tears, and will subside after your initial healing period. 

How do you remove a double chin?

No one likes a double chin! Double chins can be targeted with chin liposuction, which can be performed as a simple in office procedure under local anesthesia. This requires very little downtime! We make a small incision under the chin and use a cannula to perform handheld liposuction, which removes the unwanted fat from this area. Many times, the skin will contract and tighten as well leaving a more contoured defined jawline.

How long will chin liposuction results last?

Liposuction results are essentially permanent. We are born with a set number of fat cells, and once these fat cells are removed from this area, you will likely not gain as much weight in this area. However, not every cell is removed, so an excessive fluctuation in weight changes following the procedure may influence the results.

What is facial fat grafting?

Facial fat grafting is a process for restoring volume to the face which can also create a smoothing and lifting effect. This is an easy procedure that can be done under local anesthesia in the office. It can be a great alternative to facial fillers, as it is more permanent.

What is the difference between facial fat grafting and facial fillers?

Facial fat grafting is a procedure where we remove fat from areas of the body where it is unwanted, most commonly the abdomen and flank and transfer it to the face. The fat is injected into the desired areas of the face. The results tend to last much longer than the standard 1 year with fillers, but can fluctuate with excessive weight loss or gain. While fillers utilize a temporary Hyaluronic Acid dermal filler, fat grafting utilizes your own fat. With fat grafting, about 50-60% of the fat cells will remain and 40-50% of the fat can be reabsorbed by the body. Final results are typically noted about 6-8 weeks after the procedure.

Breast Procedures

What is a breast augmentation?

Breast augmentation is a procedure that will enhance your breast size by surgically inserting a breast implant. This procedure will typically augment the breast with a round, fuller look.

How do I know what type of breast implant to get?

There are many different implant options. These include the implant fill, implant shape, and implant shell. There are different profiles as well as styles, which we will discuss in detail at your consult. Oftentimes in our practice, we are using smooth round silicone implants. The base width of your breast will help us to decide the profile, and the implant sizing that we can do in the office (and give you tips about how to do at home) will help us to determine size.

How do I know what size breast implant is right for me?

Choosing size is a very important part of the consultation process. You can try on sizes at home by doing the RICE test, which we can provide easy instructions for. In the office we will try on gel sizers so you can get an idea of what size feels right for you. We will guide you through this process and offer guidance on what would be a good fit for your body.

How long do breast implants last?

Implants are made to last a lifetime, but do have an expiration date. If there is no problem with your implant, and you are happy with the appearance, you do not need a replacement. Implants may leak or rupture, leading to a surgery for implant removal and replacement.

Should I wait until I’m done having children to have a breast procedure?

It depends. Your breasts can change throughout many periods of your life, and having children can affect the breasts. There is a risk of secondary surgery after giving birth, but this can be discussed in more detail at a consult. It is important to discuss your plans for pregnancy with your physician so that you are informed on what to expect, and what the right timeline for surgery may be for you and your family.

What is the recovery from breast augmentation like?

Breast augmentation is a relatively easy surgery to recover from. We typically expect pain for a day or two, and soreness for a few weeks. We want to limit chest specific exercises and heavy lifting for 4-6 weeks, but otherwise you are clear to use full range of motion of your arms and do your daily activities right away! After surgery it is common for patients to use Advil or Tylenol alone without ever needing a prescription for pain medication.

When can I return to regular exercise after a breast procedure? 

After breast surgery, you can return to normal daily activities right away (showering, walking, cooking, etc). You are generally cleared to return to light physical activity/exercise about 1-2 weeks after your procedure. Typically, depending on the exact nature of your surgery, you are cleared to return to normal exercise with little to no restrictions at 6-8 weeks post surgery. Every body is different, so these may vary from patient to patient.

Will I have scarring after a breast procedure?

As with any surgery, scarring is inevitable but we use many techniques to make this the best scar possible. Your incision site/s will be red/pink in color during your initial recovery period, and over time should fade into a thin white line. We also have several treatments ranging from topical scar gels to laser treatments that may aid in the appearance of scars.

What is a breast lift?

A breast lift is a surgery that will lift the position of the breast and nipple, creating more fullness at the top of the breast. This can be ideal for women who have lost volume and fullness after significant weight loss, pregnancy, breast feeding, or aging. We remove excess skin and reposition the breast for a perkier, more youthful shape. This is also a procedure that can sometimes be performed in the office under local anesthesia with minimal downtime.

What is a breast reduction?

Breast reduction is a surgery to make the breasts smaller. Breast reduction may be desirable for women who have back, neck, or shoulder pain. This procedure also repositions the nipple and creates a more youthful shape to the breast. We will work with you to determine how much breast tissue you would like removed.

What is the recovery for a breast reduction like?

After a breast reduction procedure, you will be sore and the breasts will be tender and swollen. We most commonly tell patients that you will be in pain for a day or two, sore for a week or two, and not completely feeling back to normal for about a month or two. The most common feedback received from breast reduction patients is that they feel immediate relief from their symptoms of back/shoulder/neck pain. After the first 1-2 weeks, you are free to return to most normal daily and physical activities. The swelling and bruising immediately following the procedure normally lasts a few weeks and will improve with time. The final result of the breast size and shape is most commonly noted between 6 months-1 year. 

Body Procedures

What is liposuction?

Liposuction is a procedure that surgically removes unwanted fat from certain areas of the body. SAFE Liposuction (Separation, Aspiration, Fat Equalization=SAFE) is a 3 part process that removes fat smoothly and evenly while sparing blood vessels that aid in healing.

How long will liposuction results last?

Liposuction results can last forever. Once the fat cells are removed, your body will likely not gain as much weight to this area, meaning that this may no longer be your “problem area.” The fat cells that do remain, however, may expand in other areas if your diet and exercise should change in the future. Maintaining your weight, diet, and exercise routine is recommended following liposuction surgery.

Am I a candidate for liposuction?

There are 2 kinds of fat present in the body: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous soft tissue is able to be removed through liposuction because it is fat that sits above the muscle layer. This is the fat that can be “pinched” upon physical exam. Visceral fat cannot be removed because it protects your organs and muscles and is deeper in the abdomen. The integrity and elasticity of the skin in these areas is also a factor in determining candidacy. We recommend an in-office consultation with your surgeon to determine if liposuction is the right procedure for you. 

Will I gain the fat back somewhere else after liposuction?

Every individual has different “problem” areas that accumulate fat more readily when they gain weight. For example, the abdomen may be the area that tends to gain weight first in some people. Liposuction may be used to treat the abdomen in such a patient. After liposuction, the excess fat cells in this area will be gone and cannot regenerate. If the patient goes on to gain a significant amount of weight, one of two things may happen. If enough fat was removed from the problem area, it may no longer be the area of the body that gains weight most easily. In this case, it is possible for another area of the body to develop more noticeable weight gain because the fat is not returning to the original “problem” area. However, it’s also possible that because we do not completely remove all fat cells from the original problem area, weight gain may continue to affect that region more readily because those remaining fat cells are still the most sensitive to weight gain. We recommend trying to maintain a stable weight to avoid any major fluctuations in weight change to achieve the best results.

What is the difference between liposuction and a tummy tuck?

Liposuction is a procedure where we remove fat from areas of the body where it is unwanted. There are no large incisions made with liposuction, but the areas may be bruised and swollen for a few weeks following the procedure. A tummy tuck procedure involves removing skin and abdominal fat, tightening of the abdominal muscles, and repositioning of the belly button. This creates a cosmetically appealing contour and smoothing of the abdomen. A tummy tuck incision extends from hip to hip and is normally low enough that it can be covered by a bathing suit or undergarments. Neither liposuction nor a tummy tuck are considered to be weight loss procedures but are completed to help achieve a more aesthetically pleasing body contour.

What is involved with a mommy makeover?

A Mommy Makeover is a combination of surgical procedures that enhance a woman’s body after having children. This can include a variety of procedures that can be customized to a patient’s particular needs. This commonly includes a tummy tuck and breast enhancement surgery.

Am I a candidate for a mommy makeover?

A woman’s body can experience many changes after childbirth. Often these changes are to the breast, abdomen, or vaginal area. Depending on your specific needs, we can discuss a breast augmentation or lift, breast reduction, tummy tuck, liposuction, labiaplasty, or FemTouch. These are just among a few options that can restore confidence in your body!

What is an abdominoplasty?

Also known as a tummy tuck, an abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure that repairs and tightens the abdominal muscle wall and removes excess skin and fat. Tummy tuck surgery can reshape the midsection and provide a slimmer abdominal contour.

What is the recovery for a tummy tuck?

Tummy Tuck recovery is typically about 6-8 weeks. After the procedure, you will have an abdominal binder, which will help to provide compression. The abdomen will feel sore and tight for a few days following the procedure, and you may experience swelling and bruising for 1-2 weeks following the surgery. You may return to most normal activity after 2 weeks and will slowly start incorporating more rigorous activity at about 6-8 weeks. 

How does Brazilian butt lift surgery work?

Brazilian butt lift surgery is growing in popularity! During this surgery, we perform liposuction to any area where you have excess fat- often this is the abdomen, flanks, thighs or back. We process the fat and inject it into the buttocks to create volume in this area. SAFE liposuction (Separation, Aspiration, Fat Equalization) is a technique performed that allows for substantial fat to be removed smoothly and evenly.

How long does a Brazilian Butt Lift last?

The volume that is retained between 6-8 weeks following a BBL should be a representation for the final results. Assuming there are no excessive fluctuations of weight gain or loss, the results should be permanent.

Am I a candidate for body contouring?

If you’re bothered by stubborn fat pockets on the body that won’t go away despite healthy habits, body contouring may be the solution for you! Body contouring can mean a variety of procedures including liposuction and can be tailored to meet your individual needs. Liposuction is meant to target and remove unwanted fat. Ideal candidates should be within a reasonable range of their goal weight and have good elasticity to the skin.

What types of body contouring are available?

We believe in offering services to our patients that we know generate results. NSPS and The Med Spa offer Surgical Liposuction, In Office Liposuction, and NuEra Skin Tightening for body contour. 

What body contouring option is right for me?

We recommend an in-office consultation with your provider to determine what treatment option is best for you. Because every patient is different, we like to create a regimen that is catered to your wants and needs to achieve the most desirable results.

What can I do for my skin after massive weight loss?

There are many options for skin after massive weight loss. Many times this involves surgery to remove and tighten the skin of the abdomen, breasts, legs, arms, or back. At your consult we can discuss specific scarring associated with each procedure.

What is FemTouch?

FemTouch is a laser that provides vaginal rejuvenation. It is a quick and easy procedure in the office that has virtually no downtime or pain! It can be used to treat vaginal atrophy symptoms including dryness, decreased lubrication, or painful sexual intercourse. It can also be used to treat stress urinary incontinence or as part of our mommy makeover package to restore youthfulness to this area.

How do I know if I’m a good candidate for FemTouch?

If you have vaginal atrophy symptoms including dryness, decreased lubrication, or painful sexual intercourse you may be a good candidate for this procedure. It can also help to minimize symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. If you are a mother and childbirth has caused loss of elasticity in this area, FemTouch works to improve elasticity and tightness to the vaginal area.