Frequently Asked Questions – Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Am I a candidate for facial plastic and reconstructive surgery?

In general, candidates for facial cosmetic surgery should be in sound physical and mental health. Appropriate goals and expectations for surgery should be clearly established between the patient and the surgeon prior to embarking on any alteration of facial features. Appropriate goals include rejuvenation of the aging face, correction of obvious cosmetic deformities and reconstruction of traumatic and postsurgical defects.

Cosmetic surgery should not be expected to make major alterations in a person's life, such as saving a failing marriage, alleviating severe depression, or making a person more popular or socially acceptable. Thorough consultation with a surgeon helps establish candidacy for surgery and appropriate goals and expectations. In addition, a thorough medical examination and history is performed to ensure that anesthesia in surgery will not adversely affect the patient's health. Patients are advised to cease tobacco use of any kind at least two weeks prior to any cosmetic facial surgery.

How long will healing take?

Healing of the face after surgical alteration usually occurs quickly in comparison to other areas of the body because of the excellent blood supply to the facial skin and underlying structures. The swelling that occurs after surgery generally begins to resolve within three to five days and will continue to improve for several weeks after surgery. Bruising generally begins to fade three to five days after the surgery and will usually be completely resolved by two weeks after the surgery.

Sutures may be removed as early as three to five days after the surgery or as late as seven to ten days after the surgery, depending on the location of the incisions. Most aesthetic facial procedures are performed either as an outpatient or an overnight stay in the hospital. The patient can generally expect to return to work, school or other responsibilities within ten days to two weeks after the surgery.

Continued healing and maturation of surgical wounds takes place for several months after the surgery and complete healing for some procedures may not occur for up to three to six months after the procedure.

Will insurance cover my procedure and how much will it cost?

As a general rule, cosmetic surgeries are not covered by insurance. Functional details, such as the inability to breathe, may be partially covered during procedures such as rhinoplasty. In addition, upper eyelid surgery may be covered for patients who have evidence of a visual field defect on ophthalmologic examination.

Costs of surgery vary depending on the procedure and the extent of anesthesia and hospitalization. As part of the surgical consultation, a complete evaluation of insurance coverage and cost to the patient will be performed prior to embarking on any surgical care.

What will I look like after the surgery?

Although it is impossible to fully predict the surgical outcome before the operation, an attempt is made to give the patient a reasonable expectation of the surgical result. This takes place both by examination with the patient in front of a mirror, and manipulation of the skin and facial structures to simulate the effects of surgery. The surgeon may photograph the patient and manipulate the photograph by computer imaging to give the patient a reasonable expectation of what his or her appearance may look like after surgical correction. Computer imaging is nothing more than a simulation of the effects that may be achieved with surgery; it is not a guarantee of surgical result or the exact expected outcome.