Considering a cosmetic procedure? These are your top options

Thinking about a cosmetic procedure but don’t know if it’s right for you? We bring you a short guide to cosmetic treatments for the entire body, from head to toe.

Facelift (rhytidectomy)

A facelift rejuvenates the face by tightening the skin and sometimes muscles of the face, chin and neck. Incisions are made behind the hairline and around the ear. Excess facial fat is removed and muscles are tightened, restoring a younger appearance.

Depending on the extent of surgery, swelling and bruising may last a few weeks. It may take two to three months to realise the full result of a facelift, and results usually last from seven to 10 years.

Brow lift

A brow lift lifts the forehead, often resulting in a fresher look to the eyes. In endoscopic brow lifts, a small telescope is inserted through small incisions behind the forehead hairline and used to guide the surgeon in lifting the tissues of the forehead and brow. At the same time, the small muscles of the forehead responsible for causing frown lines are weakened so these lines are smoothed or disappear.

A brow lift usually requires a week’s recovery, with residual swelling and bruising lasting up to two weeks, while full recovery can take up to six weeks. Results can last for approximately 10 years.

Cheek and chin implants

Cheek and chin implants are used to correct sunken cheeks or receding chins and to improve facial balance and are often combined with a facelift or blepharoplasty. The incisions for cheek implants are typically made through the hairline or lower eyelids, while those for a chin implant are usually hidden in the mouth.

Cheek and chin implant surgery can be followed by swelling and bruising for several days and may also result in difficulty talking and eating for a short time. Results are permanent unless implants are removed.

Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty)

Blepharoplasty corrects drooping eyelids or puffy bags under the eyes. The incision for an upper blepharoplasty is in the lid crease and is made with either a scalpel or CO2 laser that seals blood vessels as it cuts. Skin, muscle and fat are removed.

Incisions for lower eyelid surgery can be made either inside the eyelid (eliminating external scars) or, if there is a lot of excess skin, underneath the eyelashes. There is usually some bruising and swelling for about two weeks, but eyelids should function normally after surgery.Results are normally apparent about six weeks after surgery and typically last approximately seven to 10 years before normal ageing continues.

Nose surgery (rhinoplasty)

Rhinoplasty reshapes the nose to balance it with other facial features. There are two main techniques – open (incision at the base of the nose) and closed (incisions inside nose) – that can change the size of the nose, remove a hump, narrow the nostrils, change the angle and/or refine the tip.

Most people take seven to 10 days off work to allow swelling and bruising to settle. Pain is minimal and can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers. Results are permanent.

Ear surgery (otoplasty)

Otoplasty pins back ears protruding ears. Incisions are made behind the ear to remove a thin strip of skin and the middle cartilage layer of the ear is folded back and secured in position.

The ears are wrapped for one week and likely to be swollen for a few weeks. Normal activities can usually be recommenced after around two weeks. Results are permanent.

Anti-wrinkle injections

Anti-wrinkle injections diminish lines and creases in the forehead and crow’s feet at the corners of eyes by causing paralysis in the targeted muscles. The simple procedure involves small injections of anti-wrinkle injections in several locations. The needle is very fine and only a small amount of liquid is used so most patients compare the sensation to a bug bite.

Some patients experience slight temporary bruising at the injection site, although normal activities can be resumed immediately. Results can be immediate, although may only be apparent after around four days. Effects usually last around four months, depending on the individual patient.

Laser skin resurfacing

Laser therapies work by targeting tissue and can be used for a number of treatments, including pigmentation, scarring, unwanted hair, spider veins, sun-damaged skin, and wrinkle reduction. Recent advances in laser technology mean that laser skin resurfacing, once reserved for the treatment of severe conditions such as acne scarring due to the extensive down time involved, has become an effective option for many people seeking reduction of lines and wrinkles and correction of pigmentation.

Most resurfacing lasers work by removing microscopic quantities of skin and stimulating the production of new collagen. Non-ablative lasers use wavelengths which do not burn away skin and are suitable for the treatment of melasma, scarring, fine lines and wrinkles and typically do not require any down time. Carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers can dramatically reduce wrinkles but down time and side effects such as redness are extended, usually taking many weeks to heal. Erbium lasers have greater accuracy with fewer side effects but cannot treat deep wrinkles as successfully.

The advent of fractionated laser technology, where microscopic columns of skin are treated while surrounding skin is left intact, has made it possible to achieve better results with fewer side effects. Fractionated technology has been applied to the CO2 laser, dramatically reducing the recovery time required from months to a couple of weeks.

Results for all laser treatments vary, depending on the depth of treatment.

Dermal fillers

Dermal fillers can be injected to create fuller lips and smooth lines around the mouth. Fillers are also injected into wrinkles and areas such as the nasolabial folds, cheeks and hollows around the eyes for added plumpness.

Ongoing improvement in the chemical structure of fillers has refined their effects and made more subtle results possible. Some formulas can be injected close to the skin’s surface to correct fine lines, such as those occurring in the undereye area.

A small amount of swelling, inflammation and bruising at the site of the injection may result, but is not likely to last more than a few days. Results for most fillers are not permanent, lasting several months generally. Longer-lasting formulations are being developed, with some already on the market and a permanent option is also available.

Cosmetic dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry corrects discoloured, crooked or missing teeth. Veneers and bleaching are minor procedures that can improve discoloured teeth. Veneers and crowns can be placed on existing teeth to fix badly shaped, chipped or crooked teeth and implants can be used for missing teeth. Usually very little recovery time is needed. Results can be dramatic and are usually permanent.

Breast augmentation

Breast augmentation procedures are used to change the appearance of breasts. Several techniques are used, with incisions placed under the breast fold, around the nipple, in the umbilicus or in the armpit. The implant, either saline or silicone, round or teardrop in shape, is placed above or below the chest muscle. The procedure is individualised for each woman.

Discomfort may be felt for the first few days and can be controlled with pain tablets. Return to work is usually possible after four to seven days. Results are permanent unless implants are removed.

Breast lift (mastopexy)

For a small lift, the peri-areola mastopexy is used, with an incision made around the nipple. The nipple is elevated and the skin envelope is moved so the nipple sits higher on the breast mound. For a larger lift, the inverted T or anchor-incision technique is widely used. It involves an incision being made around the nipple and vertically down, with another incision horizontally under the breast. The excess skin is removed and the nipple placed higher on the breast mound.

Initial recovery takes five to seven days and resulting scars fade over time. The scar around the nipple may be tattooed to match skin tone. Discomfort felt for the first few days is controlled with pain tablets. Results are fuller breasts with a higher projection.

Breast reduction

The two popular procedures for breast reduction are peri-areola mastopexy with reduction and the inverted T or anchor-incision technique. The excess breast tissue is excised and the nipple is repositioned higher producing a lift and reduction. The breasts take several months to settle and the shape changes slightly as it assumes a more rounded appearance. The surgical scars fade over time.

Discomfort felt for the first few days is controlled with pain tablets. Results are smaller breasts with a more pleasing shape and projection.


The area to be treated with liposuction is infiltrated with a tumescent fluid containing local anaesthetic and a vaso-constrictor before small cannulae are used to vacuum out the fat. In some cases ultrasound waves are used to melt the fat.

Liposuction can be performed almost anywhere on the body where there are pockets of fat including the neck, arms, stomach, back, chest, buttocks, thighs and ankles. It is usually performed as a day surgery. While unlikely, bruising may persist for the first few weeks and swelling for one to two months. A compression garment is usually worn for four to six weeks. Patients can usually return to work after three to seven days.

Results are more for body reshaping than bulk reduction; liposuction can remove disproportionate pockets of fat to create a more balanced form.

Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)

Abdominoplasty is carried out under general anaesthetic. An incision is made across the lower abdomen, the excess skin and fat are removed and the stomach muscles tightened. The navel is repositioned as the skin is re-stretched over the stomach.

A firm strap and drain is usually worn for the first 24 hours, followed by a compression garment for several weeks. Patients usually take three weeks off work. Results are a flatter stomach with repaired abdominal muscles and removal of excess skin. A large scar is created across the lower abdomen, which can be hidden within the bikini line.

Body implants

Implants can be placed in any area where there is a non-moving contour defect, such as the buttocks, biceps, breasts, calves, face, pectorals, penis and triceps. An incision is made at the site and the implant is inserted either above or below the muscle. Swelling and bruising may last for several days.

Numbness can occur but usually subsides. Work can usually be resumed after four to seven days. Results are location specific and are designed to realign the body through a subtle increase in volume to targeted areas. While most implants are used to create balance, custom implants can be made to recreate symmetry for patients who have had previous surgery, injury or disease.

Scar revision

Some popular methods of reducing keloid or hypertrophic scars are silicone gel sheets, massage, steroid injections, microdermabrasion and surgical excision. Results depend on a number of factors such as family history, genetic predisposition to scarring, the age, type and location of scars and the scar reduction method chosen by the surgeon.

Varicose veins

Spider veins on the face, neck, décolletage and legs and varicose veins on the legs can be treated. Vascular lasers are an effective treatment for the face. Sclerotherapy can be used for the face and legs. The vessels are injected with a solution that irritates the vessel walls, closing them. Both treatments can be done in the doctor’s office with little recovery time. A compression garment is usually worn after sclerotherapy.