What is Cosmetic Surgery?

Facts about cosmetic surgery

  • Cosmetic surgery is performed to improve a person’s appearance and to compensate for changes due to age or changes caused by other life conditions, e.g. changes in weight, pregnancy, etc.
  • Familiarize yourself thoroughly with the operation you want. Talk if necessary. with several plastic surgeons before you have surgery

Explore the options

Before you go to a plastic surgeon, it may be wise to get an overview of cosmetic surgery in South Africa. Various terms are used such as: plastic surgery, aesthetic surgery and cosmetic surgery.

What is cosmetic surgery?

Plastic surgery is traditionally divided into a reconstructive part and a cosmetic part, but you can compare the techniques used.

Reconstructive plastic surgery

Reconstructive plastic surgery is performed to restore a person’s appearance or function, typically after cancer, accidents, extreme weight loss, or congenital malformations. Cosmetic surgery is performed to improve a person’s appearance and to compensate for changes due to age or other common life conditions.

Cosmetic surgery

The term cosmetic surgery or aesthetic plastic surgery is often used when there is no medical reason for the operation. Cosmetic surgery is not an independent medical specialty, like, for example, heart disease is, but it is a prominent part of the field of plastic surgery.

The most common surgical interventions are breast augmentation with silicone implants, liposuction and eyelid surgery. The typical patient is a woman between 35-50 years of age, but the number of cosmetic surgeries on men is also increasing.

In everyday speech, cosmetic surgery usually also covers non-surgical treatment, which is typically wrinkle treatment.

Statistics from 2014 from the American Society for Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) show that the number of surgical cosmetic procedures has approximately doubled in the United States since 1997. However, during the same time, the number of non-surgical treatments is approximately sixfold.

Wrinkle treatment with botox filler injection and laser hair removal are the most used methods.

Who can perform cosmetic surgery?

In addition to being an authorized healthcare professional, since 1 December 2007 you have had to be registered with the South African Health Authority as a cosmetic practitioner in order to practice cosmetic surgery in South Africa. In addition, you must also be registered with the specific treatments you must carry out and at which treatment locations you carry out the treatments.

With The Agency for patient safety you can see who is registered to perform cosmetic surgery.


Plastic surgery is a young branch in the history of medicine. The term comes from the Greek word “plastikos”, which means to shape or create. It has nothing to do with the material “plastic”.

During the 1st and 2nd World Wars, new types of injuries were seen in the soldiers. Burn-damaged and disfigured war victims in particular had an increased need to recreate their appearance. More doctors began to specialize in this field and developed methods to help these people. The same techniques could also be used to make cosmetic changes on healthy non-injured individuals. Cosmetic surgery was born.

Private clinics for cosmetic surgery

In South Africa, you have to pay yourself for cosmetic operations at a private clinic. However, there is a gray area between what is considered a “cosmetic indication” or a “medical indication”.

All operations with a cosmetic indication are carried out in private clinics and hospitals. Examples of medically justified operations that are performed in public hospitals can bebreast reduction, flying ears, asymmetry of the breasts, removal of skin after major weight loss and correction of heavy eyelids if vision is impaired.

Cosmetic surgery, common complications

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