Understanding Procedure Levels

Here is some general information to consider about each level, including what the procedures can and cannot do, who’s best able to provide each type of treatment, the realistic outcomes of the most common treatments and procedures, and their similarities and differences.

Surgical – Most Comprehensive

Surgical or invasive procedures reposition our tissue and restore lost volume to rejuvenate our faces. Body contouring can reduce fat deposits, lift sagging skin, and shape our arms, hips, and thighs. The most common surgical procedures can be grouped in three categories:

  • Head and Face — surgical repositioning, volume restoration and smoothing
  • Breast — breast lifts, augmentations, and reductions
  • Body Contouring — liposuction, tummy tucks, and arm, thigh, and body lifts

Recovery usually takes more than a week with weeks to months of healing and additional precautions needed. Results last the longest, with most procedures lasting more than 10 years and some lasting a lifetime.

Moderately invasive

Moderately invasive procedures, while nonsurgical, are neither risk-free nor a substitute for plastic surgery. This level includes injection therapy with Botox®, soft tissue fillers, laser skin resurfacing, deep chemical peels, nonsurgical skin tightening, and cellulite treatments.

The longevity of these treatments varies—from a few months to a few years. For a time, they reduce the appearance of lines and creases, plump thin lips, enhance shallow contours, and soften wrinkles. But we don’t achieve the same results as we would with surgery or surgery combined with moderately invasive procedures, which produce more noticeable and longer lasting results.

When considering injectable procedures
For more helpful information about injectables like Botox and fillers view the Injectable Safety Planning Guide.

Minimally invasive

Minimally invasive treatments even out our skin tone, increase cell turnover, promote cell growth, remove unsightly veins or abnormal hair growth, and stimulate collagen production to help the skin retain its softness and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

Common procedures include light-based treatments to remove sunspots (e.g., Intense Pulsed Light, or IPL®), microdermabrasion, light skin peels, spider vein treatment, laser hair removal, and treatment of leg veins. These treatments—usually undertaken in a series—are not without risk and should be performed by a trained provider overseen by a plastic surgeon.

Medical skincare can produce pleasing outcomes for patients by reducing the effects of sun damage and discolorations and improving skin texture.

Noninvasive cosmetic procedures

Noninvasive cosmetic procedures—or spa treatments—are therapeutic and relaxing, designed primarily to reduce blemishes and revitalize and protect the skin. The results are temporary.

These techniques and treatments—such as cellulite wraps, facials, and deep tissue massages—are used by people of all ages, from younger people who want to improve skin tone to older adults looking to relieve muscle tension or back pain.

About lasers and light-based therapies
There is considerable marketing and advertising on the potential benefits of laser and light-based therapies. Your aesthetic surgeon can guide you through the various options. See some common terms often used by laser and light manufacturers and how you should interpret their meaning using our Laser and Light-based Energy Guide.