Surgical vs Non-Surgical
Scrolling through Instagram, you’ll see young fashionistas and their ‘before and after’ photos of cosmetic procedures that promise almost instant results. Many of them proclaim the benefits of non-surgical techniques, touting them as simple and even relatively pain-free. All of it is enticing, but also confusing to many consumers, according to Dr. Baxter. “There are a lot of popular procedures, and some are good at giving lift or even the results that you would consider plastic surgery – but not always,” he advises.
Baxter says those techniques that are considered non-invasive aren’t always an appropriate substitute for a surgical procedure. “When they don’t work you end up seeing a plastic surgeon anyway and those cases are very difficult to correct with scar tissue.”
What’s The Difference?
You’ve heard the terms – “non-invasive,” “minimally-invasive,” and “non-surgical,” but what do all of those mean?
Break-down of Non-Surgical Procedure Terms:
- Non-surgical: typically this means there are no major incisions and no general anesthesia involved in the procedure.
- Minimally-invasive: these procedures do not require surgery, but are “invasive.” Examples include deeper laser treatments and Botox and filler injections.
- Non-invasive: these procedures involve no invasive techniques that break the skin. Examples include CoolSculpting and some radiofrequency treatments, like ThermiSmooth.
And while it would seem that non-invasive procedures are the ideal, minimally-invasive procedures may be even more popular; Botox and fillers are one of the most wildly successful and popular non-surgical treatments, yet they involve a needle so therefore are considered minimally-invasive.
Usually most of these procedures that fall into the non-surgical category require very little downtime and limited recovery. Baxter cautions that because it can be difficult to sort out the different procedures, it’s important to chose a plastic surgeon who will provide wise counsel.
“You need to see a plastic surgeon in the first place who is progressive enough to offer alternative procedures and help the patient understand the limitations of the procedure,” he shares. He urges patients to pick a medical partner who will have your best interests in mind. “Your plastic surgeon should point you in the direction of a surgical procedure if that is the best option for you, because some clinics that only offer non-surgical procedures will only offer that option.”
How to Decide
Some people just don’t like the thought of an operating room and recovery, taking surgical procedures off the table. Baxter says he understands why that makes the “easier” options so tempting. “I understand the motivation for someone who doesn’t want to have surgery because they don’t want the scars or the downtime or expense – so these non-surgical options are tempting for someone, I get that,” he says.
But, he adds that doesn’t necessarily make the easier route better in the long haul. In the case of filler or injectables, you must remember the fix, while fantastic, is only temporary. They will wear off over time and have to be repeated, which means an additional expense. A facelift will require more downtime and expense, but the results will be longer lasting, according to Baxter. He says with so many choices, make sure you chose someone with the expertise to deliver a quality result.
“A plastic surgeon can usually offer all solutions, and that’s important because if you go to a clinic that only offers non- surgical, their motivation is to sell you on things that are non-surgical and that may not be what you need,” Baxter indicates. It can be an overwhelming decision with so many choices, but picking the right partner is the critical first step in making sure the rest of the pieces fall into place for the right result. “I’m starting to see patients who went with the wrong provider and it didn’t work out and they end up having surgery anyway, and it ends up being a bigger ordeal for the patient,” Baxter says.