Tracy L. Cordray, MD

Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery

Board Certified, The American Board of Plastic Surgery

44 Folly Road Blvd, Suite C| Charleston, SC 29407| Phone: 843-718-2334

Frequently Asked Questions

Q & A with Tracy L. Cordray, MD
Contact Dr Cordray MD Plastic Surgeon

What is plastic surgery?

Plastic surgery is a surgical specialty dedicated to reconstruction of facial and body defects due to birth defects, trauma, burns, and disease. The art and science of plastic surgery is also involved with the enhancement of the appearance of a person through such operations as facelift, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, and liposuction.

Why the "Plastic" in Plastic Surgery?

The word "plastic" comes from the Greek word plastikos, meaning "to mold or shape." Many of the first plastic surgeries were developed to close a difficult wound or replace tissue lost due to injury or cancer. These procedures often involved the formation of a skin flap to reshape or mold the defect so as to recreate the original shape.

What is the difference between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery?

Cosmetic surgery is performed to reshape normal structures of the body in order to improve the patient's appearance and self-esteem. Cosmetic surgery is usually not covered by health insurance due to the fact that it is purely elective surgery.

Reconstructive surgery is performed on abnormal structures of the body, caused by congenital defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma, infection, tumors, or disease. It is generally performed to improve function, but may also be done to restore a normal appearance. Reconstructive surgery is generally covered by most health insurance policies, although coverage for specific procedures and levels of coverage may vary widely.

There are a number of "gray areas" in coverage for plastic surgery that sometimes require special consideration by an insurance carrier. These areas usually involve surgical operations which may be reconstructive or cosmetic, depending on each patient's situation. For example, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) - a procedure normally performed to achieve cosmetic improvement - may be covered if the eyelids are drooping severely and obscuring a patient's vision.

What is recovery from plastic surgery like?

Will I be able to tolerate the pain post-operatively?

Each patient will tolerate pain post-operatively in a different way, and we consider this. While some patients may describe the pain as an ache, others experience greater discomfort. Appropriate pain medications are prescribed for the post-operative patients, and these help minimize discomfort. Most facial cosmetic operations have minimal discomfort post- operatively. Liposuction is slightly more uncomfortable, and operations that require elevation or tightening of the muscles-such as an abdominoplasty or breast augmentation- have discomfort similar to that of a C-section.

How long is the recuperative period and when can I return to work?

The length of time it takes to recuperate after plastic surgery varies depending on the procedure performed and the patient. Most patients will require assistance for the first two days. Then most patients are able to care for themselves, but may still need assistance if they have small children to take care of. The specific lengths of disability are outlined below by procedure. These are approximations and do not include return to exercise.

Eyelid Surgery – Usually can get around independently by the second day. With the use of sunglasses, may feel comfortable going to the store by day 3-4, and with makeup could return to work by 5-7 days.

Facelift Surgery – Usually can get around independently by the second day. Usually do not feel comfortable going out in public for 5-7 days. Requires 10-14 days before returning to work if in the public eye.

Breast Augmentation – Usually can get around independently by the second day. May return to work at 5-7 days if not required to lift more than 15 pounds.

Liposuction – Usually can get around independently by the second day, earlier if smaller number of areas treated. One can return to work and normal activities in 5-7 days.

Abdominoplasty – Patients may take between 2-4 days before getting around independently. The recovery is almost identical to a C-section. One can return to a desk job at 7 days, other jobs 10-14 days.

When can I resume regular exercise?

The time a patient resumes regular exercises varies based on the operation performed. All patients are encouraged to start a slow walking routine on the second postoperative day. Regular aerobic and more vigorous activities are not allowed during the first 2 weeks in order to decrease the risks of bleeding, swelling, and bruising. Weight lifting and contact sports are allowed at 1 month in most cases.

What should you know about the safety of outpatient plastic surgery?

When considering plastic surgery, it's natural to focus more on the expected result than on the surgical process. However, to be fully informed, it's important to learn about the safety of the procedure as well as the expected outcome. Although thousands of people have plastic surgery every year without complications, no surgical procedure is risk-free. To maximize safety, ensure that:

  • The facility where your surgery will be performed conforms to strict safety standards;
  • Your surgeon is informed of any drugs you are taking and your full medical history, especially if you have had any circulation disorders, heart or lung ailments or problems with blood clots;
  • The surgical facility will use skilled, licensed personnel to administer and monitor your anesthesia and your recovery immediately following the procedure
  • Extra safety measures are taken if you are having a more extensive liposuction procedure.

* Provided by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons

American Society of Plastic Surgeons