Lexicon of cosmetic surgery and cosmetic medicine terms



Abdomen: lower part of the trunk between the diaphragm and the pelvis. Location of choice for fat cells but the abdomen is one of the very good indications of liposuction.

Abdominoplasty: Abdominal dermolipectomy. Surgical technique comprising retightening the abdominal wall by removing excess skin and/or fat.

Abdominoplasty: Surgical operation, with peeling skin or fat, reducing the surplus and if the wall is distended, plication of the fascia that covers the muscles to restore firmness to the stomach. Finally, repositioning of the umbilicus.

Ablation: Action of taking, subtracting or removing a body by any part or a foreign body.

Abrasion: Removal of the superficial tissues.

Acne: Acne is a skin disease or inflammatory dermatitis affecting hair follicles, i.e. the root hairs. In acne, the inflammatory reaction of hair follicles with excess sebum and retention thereof, leads to the formation of comedones, i.e. the obstruction of the sebaceous gland. Keratinisation converts the comedone to the blackhead.

Adipocyte: Fat cell. Live biological element, having its own metabolism and forming fat. When weight is gained fat cells swell without multiplying or proliferating.

Adipose tissue: Clusters of fat cells (adipocytes).

Adiposity: Fat overload of cell tissue which can be treated by liposuction.

Aestheticism: Doctrine or artistic attitude that highlights refinement or formal virtuosity.

Aesthetics: Pertaining to emotions and the perception of beauty. A person who has a certain beauty, grace. A person who maintains the beauty of the body or face. Medical or surgical practice which aims to improve, remodel, re-harmonizing, rejuvenate body contours and facial features.

Alopecia: Partial or total hair loss which can be rebalanced by the technique of capillary micrografts.

Ambulatory (outpatient) (procedure): Action which does not require hospitalization, short surgical procedure.

Anthelix: One of the parts of the ear formed by the underlying cartilage.

Asepsis: All protection methods intended to prevent germs, including those that we normally carry on our skin and in our natural cavities, from infecting organism.

Autologous fat: Fat taken from the subject itself.



Bead: Part of the body having a fatty cluster, often located on the stomach but easily treated by liposuction after xerography to determine its extent and location.

Beauty: Quality which creates a sense of wonder, an aesthetic pleasure.

Blepharoplasty: surgical technique to treat cosmetic defects of the upper or lower eyelids.

Bodylift: Circular abdominal and lumbar dermolipectomy.

Brachioplasty: Surgical technique to reduce the circumference of the arm, removing excess fat and/or skin.

Breast Augmentation: Breast augmentation involves increasing the volume of the breasts.

Breast Implants: These are elements inserted into the breasts (above or below the muscle) to increase the volume of the breasts. They are also known as mammary prostheses.

Breast Reconstruction: Forms an integral part of the protocol for treating breast cancer, also assessed on aesthetic results. The indications and the choice of the breast reconstruction technique depend on the quality of the skin, the amount of which may have been severely diminished by mastectomy and its distension potential, which may have suffered from radiotherapy sessions.

Breast Reduction: Consists in reducing the volume of breasts or large breasts, which may be considered a handicap for patients.

Botox: Botox is an absorbable product that paralyses the muscle contractions responsible for wrinkles. The principle of Botox is not to fill wrinkles but to immobilise the muscle to smooth the features.

Botulinum toxin: protein whose principal action consists in a temporary reduction in the activity or paralysis of a muscle. Its action is transient but prolonged and enables certain winkles associated with exaggerated contraction of certain facial expression muscles to be eliminated.

Buffalo hump: Fatty cluster located on the cervical vertebrae that can be treated by liposuction as all parts of the body having excess fat.

Buttocks: The fleshy part forming the backside, often covered with fat.  Liposuction cannot be performed on the buttock but it can be successfully performed on the adjacent areas.



Cannula. Small rigid tube that is introduced into the body so as to “suck” the fat cells. The cannulae currently used are 3 to 5 mm in diameter and do not therefore leave a scar.

Capillary: This term relates to hair.

Cellulite: Infiltration of subcutaneous tissue that gives the skin a dimpled appearance of “orange peel” Liposuction removing fat from the treated area will result in disinfiltration of this region and thus improve the cellulite condition. Its appearance will restore a softer smoothness.

Cervicofacial lift: Operation intended to tighten the skin and muscles after a collapse of the integument of the face, neck and facial contours.

Collagen: A substance used to fill wrinkles (fibrous protein of the intercellular substance of connective tissue).

Columella: Pillar separating the two nostrils.

Compression garment (or panty): Clothes that keep the liposuctioned area by compressing it in a reasonable, homogeneous manner.

Conch: Depression of the pinna into which the auditory canal opens.

Consultation: Taking the advice of a physician or a specialist. The consultation is a prerequisite when considering a cosmetic surgery operation.

Cosmetic Surgery: This does not apply to any distortion or any trauma recognised by Social Security as a disability. It is quite relative, and subject to the judgment of beauty.

Cosmetic operation: medical or surgical procedure performed in order to enhance the beauty of the body or face.



Diagnosis: Identifying a disease by its symptoms. Identification of the nature of a dysfunction, a disorder.

Diastasis: Difference between muscles causing disunity of the anterior wall of the abdomen.

Dermabrasion: Abrasion of skin for correcting acne scars and some wrinkles.

Dermis: Middle layer of the skin between the epidermis and hypodermis. The dermis is composed of connective tissue.

Diplopia: Split visual perception of a single object.

Doctor: A person who has obtained a doctorate in medicine.

Double chin: Clusters of fat located under the chin and causing an unsightly appearance and imbalance of the face. The double chin is easily treated by liposuction with microcannulae.

Draining: A method for the continuous removal of fluids from a wound, a hollow organ or a natural cavity.



Ecchymoses (bruises): Blood Infiltration underlying an area traumatised by the passage of cannulae during liposuction. The bruises are small because the equipment used is light and efficient.

Ectropion: downward retraction of the lower eyelid.

Epidermis: Outer part of the skin consisting of several layers of cells, the most superficial of which is the cornea, and which produces scale (hair and nails are produced by the epidermis). The epidermis consists of five superimposed layers. Working towards the surface: basal layer, Malpighian layer, granular layer, clear layer, the stratum corneum.

Excess fat: Presence of a number of cells in the same location due to poor distribution of these cells throughout the body.



Face: Human face, front part of the head.

Fat: Adipose tissue that localises when there is a poor distribution of body fat cells. Each fat concentration remains a good indication for liposuction.

Fat cell (or adipocyte): Live biological element having its own metabolism and forming fat. At a time of weight gain fat cells swell without multiplying or proliferating.

Fat mass: Hyperconcentration of fat cells, due to poor distribution of the cells in the body.

Fatty clusters: Anatomical of “hyperconcentration” region of fat cells (e.g. saddlebags – abdomen – Inner thighs – buffalo hump etc.)

Fibrosis: This is a non-specific lesion characterized by hyperplasia of the connective tissue with proliferation of the fibroblasts that develop collagen. As soon as sutures are inserted into the skin, remeshing, the latter produces collagen and fibroblasts to fight against the foreign body. This gives rise to local inflammation and tissue fibrosis. The reaction to the sutures allows the skin to produce new elastic fibres, thereby controlling  sagging.

Finasteride (Propecia): Molecule present in the treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy which metabolises testosterone, thereby decelerating the secretion of male hormones and therefore hair loss, but having secondary effects on sexual functions.

Fine line: Small shallow wrinkle to be treated at the onset to prevent it from progressing to a wrinkle.

Forehead lift: Operation on a wrinkled forehead (horizontal wrinkles and pronounced frown lines, expression lines) drooping eyebrows, marked bony prominence.



Graft: This is the part of the body to be grafted. The technique of grafting is used in several treatments.

Granuloma: Reaction to a foreign body under the skin.

Gynaecomasty: Procedure that enables breast hypertrophy to be corrected in men. This hypertrophy may involve the glandular tissue or fatty tissue (or both), giving the appearance of two small female breasts in the chest.



Haematoma: Delimited blood accumulation resulting from the rupture of a blood vessel.

Harmonisation: Procedure aimed at restoring the aesthetic balance between the different parts of the body.

Health: State of a person in whom the functioning of all organs is harmonious and regular and whose mind and psyche are balanced.

Hip: lateral part of the body between the waist and upper thigh fat, often covered with fat but treatable by liposuction which will easy re-harmonise the contours.

Histology: Biological science studying, on a microscopic scale, the morphology of cells, tissues and organs.

Hyaluronic acid: Hyaluronic acid is a natural constituent of the dermis, which plays an important role in the hydration and elasticity of the skin. This is a protein that is much smaller than collagen and has a high water retention capacity.

Hypertrophy: Exaggerated increase in volume and weight of the breasts.

Hypodermis: Layer which is below the dermis where the sweat glands are located, producing and expelling seat via the small channels invisible to the naked eye.



Implant: Element (unit, device containing a drug, prosthesis, grafted organ or tissue, etc.) introduced into the body for a long time to replace an organ, supplement a function or treat a disease.

Induration: Feeling of a thickening, a resistance to the adjacent tissues, felt on palpation.

Inner thighs:
Anatomical part located between the hip and the knee, on the inner face of the thigh.

Inside of knee: Anatomical part located inside the knee joint. Excellent indication for lipoplasty.

Intern: Student concluding medical studies and performing basic functions in the hospital establishment.

Internship: Competition enabling students to obtain the title of hospital intern.



Labioplasty: Surgery on the labia

Lagophthalmos: Inability to fully close the eyelids, due in most cases to the laxity of the lower eyelid.

Laser: The cosmetic laser has revolutionised treatment options in cosmetic surgery and medicine. However, this is only a machine. The laser is “operator dependent”, generating light rays formed from simultaneous vibrations. This light has a single colour and the energy transferred can be concentrated in a single point.

Laxity: Abnormal relaxation of a tissue.

Lift: Corrects sagging features of the face and neck associated with ageing. It is mainly carried out on: the top of the face, neck, temples and forehead.

Ligament: All the tight connective fibres that bind the two bones at a joint or maintain an organ in position.

Lipectomy: Removing excess skin and fat by stretching the skin and secondarily the muscles. Also called “Stomach Tuck”.

Lipogenesis: Production of fat in the body.

Lipoplasty: Careful suction of fat cells in order to realign the contours of the body.

Liposculpture: Realignment of the body by the suction of certain areas overloaded with fat by preserving a natural balance of shape.

Liposuction: Sucks fat cells using a cannula, which is a kind of tube drilled with small holes at its end, connected to a medical aspirator with variable power. The indications of a predilection for liposuction remain classically the fat clusters located: on the hips, the saddlebags, knees, stomach and chin. However, the main demand relates to fat distributed from the waist to the calves. This is a technique developed in France in 1977 by Doctor Illouz.

Local anaesthetic: Anaesthetising a region to deprive it completely of sensitivity. Currently the majority of cosmetic procedures are performed under local anaesthetic.

Love Handles: Excess fat on the hips of men who can be treated by lipoplasty.

Lymph: Organic fluid, colourless or amber, with a composition similar to blood plasma.

Lymphatic Draining: A method of massage to remove nodules in the lymphatic circulation. Procedure for removing a diseased or excess fluid by manual intervention. Lymphatic draining is considered to be excellent for lymphatic problems for inappropriate for vascular or venous problems.



Mammary gland: gland contained in the breast, secreting milk.

Mammary hypertrophy: Excess growth of the mammary gland and excess skin. Voluminous breasts, open referred to as “drooping”, sometimes give rise to back pain.

Mammary hypotrophy: Small breasts without volume or projection.

Mammography: X-ray examination of the breast. Sometimes supplemented or replaced by an ultrasound.

Mask-Lift: Lift. Rejuvenation of the upper two thirds of the face.

Mastopexy: Surgical technique consisting retightening the skin of the breasts and remodelling them.

Membrane: Flexible envelope surrounding an organ, a cell.

Microtunnels: Passage of microcannula during liposuction, disappearing a few hours after surgery.

Morphology: Shapes of an organ or organism.

Muscle: An organ capable of contracting and ensuring movement or resistance to external forces. The following are distinguished: the smooth or visceral muscles whose contraction is involuntary and unconscious (in the wall of the digestive tract, bronchi, arteries, etc.) and skeletal striated muscles, inserted into the bones, whose contraction is voluntary and which provide body movements (myocardium, etc….)

Myofibril: Contractile fibril constituting the muscle cell


Operation: An organised set of processes that contribute to the effect, the performance of a function, an organ.

Operating room: A surgical unit reassures the patient that the operations are carried out in perfect conditions of health and safety. Only qualified and competent staff may work in an operating room: surgeon, anaesthetist, nurse …

Otoplasty: Ear surgery. Generally practised in children and adolescents, otoplasty is sometimes requested by an adult.

Overweight: Excess weight relative to the obesity index.



Panty: Elastic support girdle worn from the end of lipoplasty in order to “rejoin” the deep layers to the superficial layers of the area.

Peeling: Cosmetic operation consisting in sloughing the facial epidermis to minimising the defects. (Scrub, exfoliation). The choice of acids used will depend on the intensity of the desired treatment, and hence of the depth of the wrinkles to be treated. This is the chemical variant of a mechanical (dermabrasion) or laser (laser abrasion) process.

PhD: National Diploma required for the practising health Professions.

Phototype: The phototypes enable individuals to be classed according to the reaction of their skin when exposed to the sun. There are six phototypes (skin types):

  • phototype I

Reaction to the sun: does not tan, always catches sunburn.
Type: clear skin, freckles, blond or red hair

  • phototype II

Reaction to the sun: difficult to tan, often catches sunburn
Type: clear skin, blond or brown hair, freckles appears in sun, clear eyes

  • phototype III

Reaction to the sun, sometimes sunburns, gradual tanning: fair skin, blond or brown hair

  • phototype IV

Reaction to the sun: occasionally sunburns, tans well
Type: dark skin, brown or brown hair, dark eyes

  • phototype V

Reaction to the sun: rarely sunburns, tans easily
Type: dark skin, dark eyes

  • phototype VI

Reaction to the sun: dark skin, never sunburn
Type: black skin

Fair skin needs higher UV protection than darker skin. It is more sensitive to sunlight and is more susceptible to skin cancer. Dark skin contains a greater amount of melanin which naturally filters UV light. Knowing your phototype (skin type) enables you to select a suitable sunscreen.

Physiognomy: All the features that give the face a particular expression.

Plastic surgery: This encompasses repair surgery and cosmetic surgery. Rather than repair or plastic surgeon, the term plastic surgeon will be used because he is often qualified to practise both.

Plasty: Operation intended to restore a body to its original morphology.

Ponderal: Relates to weight.

Postoperative: Everything relating to the period after the intervention.

Practitioner: Doctor of medicine committed to performing procedures he considers appropriate, and bound by an obligation of due care.

Preoperative: Everything relating to the period before the intervention.

Protocol: A set of operating principles which the practitioner must explain to the patient before deciding on the cosmetic procedure.

Ptosis: “Drooping” or low breasts. Lying on her back, the woman sees her breasts deviate too much from the midline of the sternum.

Putting on weight: Weight gain displayed by the swelling of fat cells of the body that will be more prominent in areas of fatty hyperconcentration. These areas are the ideal indication for liposuction.



Raphy: Retightening of an anatomical structure (for example: abdominal muscles, platysma muscles behind the chin, etc.).

Realignment: Rebalancing a silhouette by lipo-sculpture or covering baldness with micrografts.

Reconstructive Surgery: This is intended primarily to correct or repair the physical, aesthetic or functional changes in the human body due either to congenital malformation, abnormal development or trauma, disease or special medical treatment.

Recovery room or resuscitation room: After any surgical operation requiring anaesthesia, the patient is taken to the recovery resuscitation for medicalised or non-medicalised assistance following the operation. The patient is not taken to his/her room until he/she is fully awake.

Remeshing: Remeshing consists in producing underneath the skin a mesh of thread for controlling sagging. For remeshing the surgeon has at his disposal several possible techniques, according to the degree of sagging of the skin and the area of the body to be treated. Today all the remeshing techniques make use of absorbable threads.

Remodelling: Restoring a harmonious shape to an unbalanced area of the body.

Repair Surgery: The part of plastic surgery that repairs the diseased organs, organs operated on and organs injured in an accident.

Rhinoplasty: Operation to alter the size and / or shape of the nose.

Rosacea: Rosacea is a permanent dilation of small superficial veins on the face. Rosacea produces a series of red meanders on the chin, the nose, forehead and cheeks.



Saddlebags: Clusters of fat located on the trochanters – each of the two apophyses (elevations on the surface of a bone) at the end of the femur – causing disharmony of the silhouette but easily rectifiable by liposuction.

Scar: The scar is the result of a natural process of tissue regeneration. It is the collagen, filling the hollow caused by a cut, fracture, tear or puncture , which connects all the fibres to provide an overall repair.

Scrub: Cosmetic operation consisting of sloughing facial skin to minimise defects. (Peeling, exfoliation).

Shell: The shell is scar tissue that forms around breast implants.

Silhouette: General appearance which corpulence gives the body. Silhouette (contours) and its transformation is studied h a practitioner during a lipoplasty consultation.

Silicone: inert organic substance used everywhere in our daily life (seals, lubricants, hair conditioners, etc.), but also in surgery (e.g. breast implants).

Slimming: Losing weight.

Slimming: Self-refinement.

Specialist: Practitioner who specialises in a field in which he has acquired special skills and knowledge.

Stomach: Lower part of the inner face of the trunk, subject to hyperconcentration of fat cells.

Stretch Marks: Stretch marks appear due to exaggerated distension of the skin or due to hormonal changes. Stretch marks are accompanied by a significant loss of skin elasticity. They appear mainly on the stomach, breasts, thighs and buttocks, shoulders and lower back.



Technique: A process linked to a set of resources suitable for performing a procedure.

Temporal lift: Wrinkle reduction of crow’s feet, clarification of facial expression by lifting the tail of the eyebrow.

Trochanter: Projection of the upper part of the femur. Uncontrolled “saddlebags” (fat dimples) adjacent to the trochanters.

Turbinates: Formations present in the nasal cavity enabling, in particular, the inhaled air to be humidified and reheated.



Varicose vein: Permanent pathological dilatation of a vein. Many factors promote the appearance of varicose veins: obesity, pregnancy, prolonged standing, menopause, heat, floor heating, sun, etc. Varicose vein surgery removes reflux areas. It consists in introducing a plate from one end to the other in a varicose vein segment and, after attaching it to one end, in withdrawing this plate and removing it by retrieving the entire vessel at its end.

Vasoconstriction: Vasoconstriction is a natural process causing a reduction in the diameter of blood vessels. The opposite phenomenon is called vasodilation.

Vasodilation: In vasodilation there is an increase in the diameter of blood vessels.



Wrinkle: Deep channel formed on the facial skin by the effect of aging. Wrinkles can be improved by various current techniques: laser, collagen, peeling, injections etc.


Xerography: xeroradiography: Xerography is a radiographic technique which is a component of diagnostic imaging that provides an image of the inside of the body for the purpose of identifying certain parts and screening them for possible abnormalities. Xerography is used in cosmetic plastic surgery to determine the volume of fat to be treated, in relation to the abdomen and viscera, for better preparation for the operation on the patient. Xerography will generally be used before liposuction, but also after it, to evaluate the result obtained and decide on any readjustments to be made.