What do all those technical terms mean when it comes to our bodies and the procedures that can transform them? Although by no means an exhaustive list, the following may help decipher some alien terminology—and help you become more aware of your options.



Alpha-hydroxy acids: Naturally occurring acids found in many skin-care products to exfoliate the skin.

Antioxidants: An ingredient in many prescription and over-the-counter skin care products, antioxidants reduce the harmful effects of free radicals, which are molecules that injure cells and cause inflammation. Look for products that contain açai oil, alpha-lipoic acid, green tea extract, retinol, vitamin C, CoEnzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10) and caffeine.

Chemical peels: Different types of chemical compounds are applied to the skin, removing the outer layers. Also known as chemexfoliation or derma peeling, chemical peels can reduce or eradicate wrinkles, destroy pre-cancerous skin growths, soften acne scars, reduce uneven pigmentation and control acne. Chemical solutions commonly used include alphahydroxy acids, trichloroacetic acid and phenol.

Chemoprevention: The use of topical or oral agents to help decrease skin cancer risk.

Cosmeceuticals: This term combines ‘cosmetics’ and ‘pharmaceuticals,’ although these products are not regulated by the FDA. Applied like cosmetics, they contain ingredients that may influence the biological function of the skin, improving appearance by delivering healthy nutrients.

Fotofacial RF: A brand of intense pulsed light that uses the heat of radiofrequency energy. Invisible microinjuries repair themselves by producing new collagen, which, over time, smoothes and softens wrinkles, makes pores less noticeable and smoothes textural irregularities.

Microdermabrasion: A highly controlled spray of fine crystals removes dead skin cells. No recovery is needed.

Fractionated laser treatment: The laser delivers a series of microscopic, closely spaced laser spots to the skin, preserving the healthy skin between. Only about 20 percent of the skin is affected, promoting fast recovery while offering good results in wrinkle and acne scar removal.

Intense pulsed light (IPL): High-intensity pulses of light penetrate the skin to treat photo aging, spider veins, rosacea or unwanted hair. • Laser resurfacing: Reduces wrinkles, acne scars and pigmentation by concentrating laser-generated heat on the skin. Usually done under local anesthetic, it may require IV sedation. Redness may last for months, but experts claim the effects will last years.

Non-ablative (cold) laser: Unlike ‘traditional’ laser resurfacing in which the epidermis is heated, this uses light energy to stimulate collagen remodeling and/or remove pigmentation and enlarged blood vessels without downtime.

Peptides: Proteins incorporated into some skin care products, which stimulate the production of collagen and thicken the skin.

Retinol: Derived from vitamin A, retinol is a topical ingredient proven to promote collagen production and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It also improves skin tone and color and reduces hyperpigmentation. The prescription-strength version, tretinoin, is marketed under the brand name Retin-A.



Chemical depilatories: These contain a highly alkaline chemical—usually calcium thioglycolate—that dissolves the protein structure of the hair. May cause a rash or irritation.

Electrolysis: Will treat one hair at a time of any color or coarseness in the active growth phase. A tiny electrode grasps the hair and sends an electrical current into the follicle to kill it.

Laser hair removal: A laser generates a single wavelength of light absorbed by the color, or melanin, in the hair follicle. The hair falls out in one to seven days. Because it is effective only on hair in the active growth phase, it requires four to six treatments. Limitations exist on blond or white hair because of its lack of melanin.

Vaniqa: A prescription cream that retards new hair growth by prohibiting production of a key enzyme.



Breast augmentation: Surgery that increases breast size, usually with FDAapproved saline- or silicone-filled implants.

Breast reconstruction: A variety of procedures may be used to reconstruct the breast after lumpectomy or mastectomy. In some cases, reconstruction begins immediately following breast cancer surgery. Breast implants, fat transfer or a combination of techniques replace excised breast tissue.

Breast reduction: Decreases the size of the breasts to take pressure off the shoulders and chest.

Breast revision: Surgery performed to address issues such as implant deflation, a desire to change implant size or type, capsular contracture and/or improper implant position.

Mammoplasty: Any reconstructive or cosmetic surgical procedure that alters the size or shape of the breast.

Mastopexy: Also called a breast lift, this removes excess skin in order to lift sagging breasts.



Back scooping: Liposuction of the lower back to accentuate the buttock curve.

BodyTite: Radio-frequency liposuction breaks up fat, suctions it out and uses heat to tighten the skin and connective tissue.

Liposuction: Also known as lipoplasty or suction-assisted lipectomy, a cannula is used to break up and suction away fat.

Pulsed ultrasonic liposuction (pUAL): Cycles power on and off very quickly, reducing treatment risk. Micro-pulsed ultrasonic liposuction uses very small (2mm) diameter probes to allow treatment of the cheek, jowls or neck and to collect fat for transplant to other body sites.

Power-assisted liposuction (PAL): A rapidly vibrating suction tip loosens fat cells so they can be suctioned with less trauma to surrounding tissues.

SmartLipo MPX: A newer version of laser lipolysis, or fat removal, this device delivers two simultaneous laser wavelengths. The procedure requires a small incision to allow the laser to reach fat cells under the skin. The laser then liquefies these cells while simultaneously cauterizing the area to minimize bleeding.

Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL): Uses sound waves to loosen fat, making it easier to remove.

Zeltiq Coolsculpting: Using a special device, skin is suctioned and cooled simultaneously. Fat cells are damaged when they reach a certain temperature, and the body reacts with an inflammatory response that dissolves these damaged cells.

Zerona: Using cold laser technology, the laser is applied to the targeted area to emulsify fat, which is then excreted away through normal body processes.



Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck): Flattens the abdomen by removing excess fat and skin and tightening the muscles of the abdominal wall, usually through an incision below the bikini line from hip to hip.

Body lift: Also called a circumferential body lift, this may involve a tummy tuck, thigh and buttock lifts through an incision at the bikini line.

Brachioplasty (arm lift): Removes flabby skin and fat deposits from the back of the upper arm.

Panniculectomy: A surgical procedure used to remove excess skin and fat from the lower portion of the abdomen. Often performed after significant weight loss, this procedure does not tighten abdominal muscles.



Coil embolization: Under local anesthesia with ultrasound and Xray guidance, a catheter is inserted into a larger vein in the leg or calf. A small coil is placed into the catheter and into the vein. Alcohol is injected into the vein as the catheter is withdrawn. The alcohol irritates the lining of the vein and causes it to close.

Endovenous ablation: A thin catheter is placed into the saphenous vein through a pinprick incision. The radiologist applies heat, either from a laser or radiofrequency energy, causing the vein to collapse as the catheter is withdrawn.

Sclerotherapy: Used on small varicose and spider veins, a solution is injected into the vein to make it collapse. Microsclero - therapy is a newer type of sclero - therapy that uses improved solutions and techniques, increasing the success rate.

Stab phlebectomy: Multiple small stab punctures are performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. With special hooks, the varicosities are extracted through the punctures. When healed, no scars are visible.

Vein stripping: Removing a long vein through small incisions at the groin, knee and ankle. An outpatient procedure, patients typically resume normal activities within two weeks.



Cosmetic Gum Surgery: A ‘gummy smile’ or ‘long-tooth smile’ is corrected through surgical revision of the gum line.

Crowns: Placed over a tooth that has been reduced in size, crowns can also serve as artificial teeth over dental implants.

Dental implants: Posts inserted and integrated into the jawbone that serve as a foundation for a permanent bridge or a single tooth prosthesis.

Invisalign: Clear trays that fit over the teeth to straighten them by gradually changing the fit. They are much less noticeable than traditional braces and can be removed for eating.

I-Braces: Fit on the backsides of the teeth, they are invisible from the front.

Porcelain veneers: Bonded to the front and/or biting surface of the tooth to fill gaps, replace lost height and create a more evenly spaced appearance.

Smile Lift: Veneers are contoured to lift the outer edges of the lips and reduce wrinkling around the mouth.



Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery): A surgical procedure used to improve the appearance of upper and lower eyelids by repositioning fat deposits, removing excess skin and tightening muscle.

Botulinum toxin: Best known as Botox Cosmetic and Dysport, botulinum toxin temporarily immobilizes muscles, preventing contractions that cause wrinkles and creases between the brows and around the eyes.

Cheek implant: A surgical procedure in which small implants are inserted beneath the skin to create a fuller appearance.

Deep-plane rhytidectomy: This procedure also corrects deep nasolabial folds by dissecting the fat layer more completely off the muscle and re-draping the skin. It avoids the stretched appearance sometimes detectable with traditional face-lifts.

Endoscopic brow lift: A less invasive variation of the forehead lift is performed with an endoscope inserted through three to five very short incisions.

Forehead lift (brow lift): Cosmetically corrects drooping brows and upper eyelids, as well as sagging skin on the forehead; can dramatically improve lines and furrows by removing excess tissue, altering muscles and tightening skin. Usually an outpatient procedure, the traditional technique involves an incision across the top of the head, just behind the hairline.

Lifestyle Lift™: This mini-lift involves the SMAS muscle layer. Through incisions at the ear, the muscle is pleated and the skin re-draped, giving a stronger lift.

Mini-lift: Targeted lifting techniques to correct an area of the face that may be aging before others.

Rhinoplasty (nose job): It reshapes the nose by reducing or increasing size, modifying a hereditary hump, changing the shape of the tip or bridge, or narrowing the span of nostrils. It may also relieve breathing problems caused by a deviated nasal septum or a previously broken nose.