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Glossary of cosmetic medicine terms


Abdomen: Lower part of the trunk located between the diaphragm and the pelvis. This is a common area for the accumulation of fatty tissue but it is also quite suitable for liposuction treatment.

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: The act of taking away, cutting away or removing any part or foreign material from the body.

Abrasion: Ablation of the exterior surface of tissue.

Acne: Acne is an inflammatory skin disease or cutaneous condition affecting the hair follicles or roots. With acne the inflammatory reaction of the hair follicles with over-abundant sebum and the retention thereof leads to the formation of comedones, or the obstruction of the sebaceous gland. The process of keratinisation transforms a comedo into a black-head.

Adipocyte: Fat cell. Living biological element with its own metabolism which generates fat. When body weight increases the fat cells inflate without multiplying or proliferating.

Adipose tissue: Clusters of fat cells (adipocytes).

Adiposity: Fatty overloading of the cellular tissue which can be treated with liposuction.

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.

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

Alopecia: Partial or total hair-loss which can be resolved through the application of capillary micro-grafts.

Antihelix: A part of the ear formed by the under-lying cartilage.

Asepsis: All of the preventive methods used to stop germs, particularly those that we carry on our skin or body orifices, from infecting the organism.

Autologous fat: Fat taken from the subject itself.


Beauty: A quality which provokes admiration, an aesthetic pleasure.

Bodylift: Abdominal and lumbar circular dermolipectomy.

Bulge: Part of the body with an accumulation of fatty tissue, often located around the belly and easy to treat with liposuction after xerography to determine the extent and localisation.

Buffalo hump: Fatty tissue located on the cervical vertebrae which can be treated with liposuction like all of the regions of the body which can become overloaded with fatty tissue.

Botox: Botox is a resorbable product which paralyses the contractions of the muscles that cause wrinkles. Botox is not used as a filler to smooth out wrinkles but as a product which immobilises the muscle and therefore smooths the skin.

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.

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.

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 which is introduced into the body to “vacuum” the fat cells. 3 to 5mm diameter cannula are currently used which do not leave any scars.

Capillary: Everything related to hair.

Cellulite: Infiltration of subcutaneous tissue which leaves the skin with a dimples “orange peel” aspect. Liposuction to remove fat from the region treated will dis-infiltrate this area and thus improve the cellulite condition. The skin will recover its smooth and soft aspect.

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

Collagen: Substance used to fill and this smooth wrinkles (fibrous protein from the inter-cellular substance of the conjunctive tissue).

Columella: The pillar which separates the two nostrils.

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

Conch: Hollow in the outer ear into which the auditory canal opens.

Consultation: Seek out the advice of a doctor or specialist.

Cornets: Structures inside the nasal canals which humidify and warm inhaled air.

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


Dermabrasion: Abrading of the skin to correct acne scars and certain types of wrinkle.

Dermis: Intermediary layer of skin, between the epidermis and the hypodermis. The dermis is made up of connecting tissue.

Diagnostic: Identification of an illness from its symptoms. Identification of a type of dysfunction or difficulty.

Diastasis: Space between muscles leading to the separation of the anterior wall of the abdomen.

Diplopia: Doubling of the visual perception of a single object.

Doctor: Person who has a medical doctorate.

Double chin: Localised fatty tissue accumulation under the chin often considered unsightly and which affects the overall harmony of the face. A double chin can be easily treated with liposuction using micro-cannula.

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


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.

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

Ectropion: Downward retraction of the lower eyelid.

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): Living biological element with its own metabolism which generates fat. When body weight increases the fat cells inflate without multiplying or proliferating.

Fat mass: Hyper-concentration of fat cells, due to poor distribution of the cells in the body.

Fatty clusters: Anatomical region of fat cell “hyper-concentration” (example: saddlebags – abdomen – insides of the thighs – buffalo hump, etc.)

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.

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

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, re-meshing, 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.

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


Granuloma: Reaction to a foreign body under the skin.

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

Gynaecomastia: 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.


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.

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

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

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 skin moisturising and elasticity. This is a much smaller protein than collagen with a very high water retention capacity.

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.

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

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.


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: Puts a part of the body to sleep such that it no longer feels a thing. Most current cosmetic procedures are done under a 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.


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.

Micro-tunnels: Passage of micro-cannula 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.

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

Outpatient (procedure): Procedure which does not require hospitalisation, short surgical procedure.

Overweight: Excess weight relative to the obesity index.


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

Peeling: Cosmetic operation consisting of sloughing facial skin to minimise defects. (Peeling, 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 to practise medicine.

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)

1) phototype I

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

2) 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

3) phototype III

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

4) phototype IV

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

5) phototype V

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

6) 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.

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 hyper-concentration. 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 micro-grafts.

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.

Re-meshing: Re-meshing consists in producing underneath the skin a mesh of thread for controlling sagging. For re-meshing 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 re-meshing techniques make use of absorbable threads.

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

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

Rosacea: Rosacea is the permanent dilatation of the small superficial veins of the face. Rosacea leaves a network of red lines on the chin, nose, forehead and cheeks.


Saddlebags: Accumulations of fatty tissue around the trochanters – the processes at the end of the femur – generating disharmony in the silhouette but easily resolved through liposuction.

Scar: A scar is the natural result of the natural process of tissue regeneration. Collagen fills the gap left by the cut, breakage, tear or puncture re-attaching the skin fibres to weave them back together.

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

Silhouette: General appearance which corpulence gives the body. Silhouette (contours) and its transformation is studied with 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. 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 hyper-concentration 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.


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.

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


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.


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