Endoscopic surgeries - cosmetic procedures using endoscopes

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Endoscopic plastic surgery

What is Endoscopic Plastic Surgery?

Endoscopy is defined as a surgical technique that involves the use of an endoscope, a long narrow tube attached to a camera that allows a plastic surgeon to view tissues and other internal body structures through small incisions. The use of an endoscope in any surgery greatly reduces the need to make large incisions. Endoscopy is particularly useful for cosmetic surgeons because as the smaller the incision, the less scarring is likely to be visible. Although endoscopes have been used for about forty years for medical testing surgery, it is only recently that endoscopic procedures have been employed in plastic surgery.

An endoscope consists of two basic parts: a tubular probe fitted with a light and a minuscule camera and that is inserted through a small incision; and an external viewing monitor that displays transmitted images of the body's internal structures. During surgery, the surgeon watches the screen while moving the tube of the endoscope through the surgical area. The surgery itself is performed with a separate surgical instrument that is guided by what the plastic surgeon sees on the camera. The surgeon then uses what he sees on the screen as a guide to manipulate body tissue.

It is important to understand that the endoscope functions as a viewing device only. To perform the surgery, a separate surgical instrument--such as a scalpel, scissors, or forceps--must be inserted through a different point of entry and manipulated within the tissue.

What Are the Advantages of Endoscopic Plastic Surgeries?

There are many advantages to having endoscopic plastic surgery such as:
  • Smaller incisions and therefore smaller scars
  • Scars that can be hidden underneath other body parts (such as under the arm or beneath the groin) as the surgeon can use the endoscope to reach places that formerly could only be accessed with an incision
  • Smaller incisions that can be used to insert implants and prosthetic devices as the endoscopic device allows doctors to view inner tissues just as clearly as if they had made a wider or lengthier incision
  • Less chance of nerve damage as shorter incisions decrease the chance of severing a nerve
  • Less bruising, bleeding and swelling as the result of smaller incisions
  • Lessening the need for an overnight hospital stay and allowing many plastic surgeries to be performed on an outpatient (as opposed to inpatient) basis

What Are the Applications of Endoscopic Procedures?

Endoscopy has many applications in cosmetic plastic surgery. Here are some examples of the roles that endoscopy can play in different cosmetic procedures.
  • Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) - The endoscope saves the surgeon from having to make one long incision down the muscles that run vertically from the belly button to the groin. Instead, the use of an endoscope allows the doctor to make several short incisions instead.
  • Breast implants (breast augmentation) - The endoscope is inserted through an incision in the underarm or the navel and is used to assist the surgeon in positioning breast implants within the chest wall. This saves the surgeon from making a large incision beneath or on the surface of the breast.
  • Facelift - When an endoscope is used, there is no need for surgeons to make the customary incision along the hairline. Instead, small incisions may be hidden in the upper gum line and in the lower eyelid. Incisions may also be concealed behind the ears and under the chin. An endoscope is often used to position cheek and chin plants.
  • Forehead lift - An endoscopy is commonly used for a forehead lift as it allows plastic surgeons to forgo the usual incision that extends from ear to ear and accomplish the lifting through smaller incisions made in the hairline.

The Risks of Endoscopic Surgeries

There are some risks, which vary in severity depending on which cosmetic procedure is being performed. These include infection, hematomas, seromas, blood vessel damage, nerve damage and accidental puncture wounds. However it is comforting to realize that even though the use of endoscopy is newer for plastic surgery, this type of risk seems to be occurring in less than five percent of all cosmetic procedures that employ an endoscope.

It is also much more common for plastic surgeons nowadays to receive endoscopy training as part of their plastic surgery education. If you are dealing with a board certified plastic surgeon who is older and you would like endoscopy to be part of your procedure, make sure and ask during your initial consultation if he has been trained in employing the latest techniques in endoscopic cosmetic surgery.