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Plastic Surgery Methods

Many methods are used for cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. Some are described below.

Endoscopic surgery

Endoscopic surgery uses an endoscope. This is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and a bright light at the end. The endoscope helps the surgeon during surgery. The surgeon puts the scope through a small cut (incision). Images from the camera are sent to a screen. The surgeon watches the screen while moving the scope inside the body. They can put other instruments through a different incision or incisions. Large procedures can then be done with minimal scars.

Flap surgery

Flap surgery means moving healthy tissue or bone from one place in the body to another. This is often done in areas that have lost skin, fat, muscle movement, or skeletal support. The surgeon may use one of several types of flap surgery. Which one depends on the location of the flap and the structures that need to be repaired.


Lasers are high energy beams of light. They are used in plastic surgery because they typically cause less bleeding, bruising, and scarring. Many types of lasers may be used. Which type depends on the purpose and location of the surgery to be done. Talk with your healthcare provider or surgeon to see if laser surgery is right for you.

Skin grafts

A skin graft may be used to cover skin that has been damaged or is missing. The surgeon removes healthy skin from one part of the body to restore normal appearance or to restore function to another part of the body. The place where the skin is removed is called the donor site. Several types of skin grafts may be used. Which one depends on the size and location of needed skin. These include:

  • Split-thickness skin graft that uses only the layers of skin closest to the surface.

  • Full-thickness skin graft that uses all layers of skin including the blood vessels.

Tissue expansion

A tissue expansion is surgery that puts a balloon-like device (expander) under the skin. The expander is then slowly filled with liquid to stretch and expand the skin over time. This acts to "grow" extra skin to repair nearby lost or damaged skin.

Online Medical Reviewer: David Lickstein MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2022
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