Non-Surgical & Minimally Invasive Are All the Rage, but What Do They Mean?

Today there are more ways than ever to address cosmetic concerns. Non-surgical procedures are increasingly popular, and new non-invasive treatments are being developed each year. However, the level of invasiveness for treatments varies and the terms used to describe how they work can be confusing.

Here at the Swan Center, we’ve helped thousands of Atlanta plastic surgery patients navigate the wide range of available treatments and procedures.

We put together the following guide to help you understand the level of invasiveness for various treatment types, and what effect they may have on your busy lifestyle.

What’s an invasive procedure?

The term invasive is typically used to describe surgical procedures that require incisions and appreciably alter skin or underlying tissues at the time of the procedure. As such, this class of procedures requires bed rest for a few days up to a few weeks. Surgical procedures usually include the option for general anesthesia or local anesthesia with IV sedation.

Examples of common invasive plastic surgery procedures:

Total healing time: Two to six months, depending on the procedure, with patient rest averaging one to two weeks.

Results: Varies between one to six months.

The risks involved with invasive plastic surgery procedures are usually greater than non-invasive options. However, these procedures are particularly effective at delivering results and are considered safe when performed by a board certified plastic surgeon.

So, what does minimally invasive mean?

Minimally invasive treatments require significantly less or no downtime and very little discomfort, but often involve a puncture or even a small incision. Minimally invasive procedures are considered less risky than other methods and do not require general anesthesia.

Examples of common minimally invasive options:

  • Dysport®, Restylane®, and dermal fillers (injectable treatments)
  • Skin procedures such as scar revision or dermaplaning
  • Deep skin peels

Healing time: Zero to ten days, with patient returning to work immediately or within a few days.

Results: Varies between a few days to two weeks.

These cosmetic treatments are growing in popularity because patients can return to normal activities quickly, the risk of infection or complication is low, and the results can be impressive.

What about non-surgical options?

Non-surgical cosmetic treatments involve no needles, no punctures, and no anesthesia. Foreign objects do not enter your body at any time and the entire cosmetic treatment is done externally.

These types of treatments typically involve very little downtime, with patients being able to resume unrestricted normal activity very quickly after treatment. Non-surgical treatments may occasionally be considered invasive on some level, depending on how they affect both the treatment area and underlying tissues.

Examples of common non-surgical treatments:

  • CoolSculpting (fat reduction through cryolipolysis, i.e. freezing fat cells)
  • Laser treatments (such as fractional skin resurfacing or hair removal)
  • Light chemical peels

Healing time: Anywhere between one day to two weeks, with patient typically feeling and looking back to normal within a few days.

Results: Varies between one week to three months.

Non-invasive treatments

Many skincare treatments are considered non-invasive because they do not puncture the skin or otherwise impact the underlying tissues. These treatments are quite comfortable and often relaxing. There is no downtime whatsoever.

Examples of common non-invasive treatments:

  • Facials (to improve quality of skin through cleansing, exfoliation, & hydration)
  • Medical-grade skincare (products used at home or applied professionally to improve skin)

Healing time: Usually minimal, with patient resuming normal activity immediately

Results: Typically, results can be seen immediately or within a few days

Non-invasive treatments are especially effective when used in conjunction with other procedures. Be sure to ask which treatment combinations are most appropriate for your skin type and goals.

How do I know what’s right for me?

We hope we’ve cleared up some of your questions here, but the best way to learn about effective cosmetic treatments is to talk to a trusted professional. Our board certified surgeons and skincare experts can guide you through the process and help you determine which treatments are a good fit for you.

The Swan Center offers complimentary consultations for potential patients. We can answer all of your questions and develop a safe and effective treatment plan that suits your needs.

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