Surgical vs Non-Surgical Plastic Surgery

The Blog
Dr. Jude LaBarbera, MD Plastic Surgeon


Surgical vs Non-Surgical Plastic Surgery

If you have thought about having plastic surgery to achieve aesthetic goals and improve self-confidence, it is important to know what options are available. Cosmetic surgical procedures are invasive in nature and involve cuts to the skin (thus carrying the intrinsic risk of scarring). Non-surgical plastic surgery, on the other hand, entails minimally invasive treatments that are quick to recover from. This page offers more insights on both types of procedures so you can select and prepare for the right plastic surgery.

1. Surgical procedures

These are the typical cosmetic surgeries such as breast augmentation, breast lift, tummy tuck, facelift, and neck lift. The goal of these treatments is to address imperfections such as excess fat, weakened muscles, sagging skin, and folds and wrinkles in various parts of the body.

Pros of Surgical Procedures

Here are some of the advantages of cosmetic surgery.

They tighten weakened muscles – cosmetic surgery procedures are better suited to address muscle weakening or separation caused by a variety of factors such as aging and pregnancy. Plastic surgeons can tighten muscles in the face, abdomen, and most other parts of the body for that matter. An incision is created and the muscles sutured together into a better configuration before the overlying tissue is repaired and the incision closed.

They repair loose skin – patients who have excess loose or handing skin will need surgery to address this issue. Plastic surgeons typically create an incision and remove the unwanted skin before tightening the remaining tissue to achieve a smoother and more youthful appearance.

They dramatically improve body contours – cosmetic surgeries tend to be invasive and extensive. For this reason, they are better suited to achieve dramatic improvements in different parts of the body. A lower facelift could be used to achieve a more attractive jawline contour with a tummy tuck could result in a firmer and flatter abdomen.

They result in long-lasting or permanent outcomes – one of the best things about cosmetic surgery is that it results in long-lasting outcomes. Patients only need to adhere to a few basic recommendations (usually positive lifestyle changes) and they can enjoy the results of their procedure for years.

Cons of Surgical Procedures

Some of the cons of surgical procedures include the following:

Difficult aftercare – surgical procedures require more intensive care on the patient’s part (especially over the first week).

Longer recovery time – surgical procedures are invasive and extensive and thus can be expected to result in a longer recovery duration. The specific recovery timeframe can range from a week to a few months depending on the specific procedure.

Higher treatment cost – although cosmetic surgeries are becoming increasingly available and more affordable, they are still much more expensive compared to non-surgical options.

Risks of surgery – cosmetic surgery comes with inherent risks associated with surgical treatments. These include the risk of bleeding, blood clots, and infection.

2. Nonsurgical procedures

These are basically procedures that are minimally invasive and often designed to rejuvenate and refresh the patient’s appearance without the need for large incisions, anesthesia, or overnight hospitalization. Some examples include injectables such as BOTOX and Dysport, as well as dermal fillers such as Restylane and Radiesse.

Pros of Non-Surgical Treatments

Below are some of the top benefits of minimally-invasive plastic surgery:

Quick procedure – most non-invasive plastic surgery procedures can be completed within 15 – 45 minutes (which is why they are sometimes referred to as ‘lunchtime’ procedures). Keep in mind though that the precise duration may vary based on your unique needs.

Cost-effective – minimally invasive plastic surgery treatments tend to be highly affordable (at least temporarily). A single session may cost just a few hundred dollars for results that may last for more than a year.

Minimal pain – non-surgical plastic surgery treatments are quick and typically do not involve the use of anesthesia. More so, no incisions are made. This means that the recovery is much better with less pain and discomfort than would be expected from traditional cosmetic surgery.

Minimal recovery – the recovery time after non-invasive surgery is much quicker. In some cases, patients are able to resume routine activities in as little as a few hours.

Fewer risks – since no incisions are made and the procedure is non-invasive, traditional surgical risks such as bleeding and infection are not an issue. You also do not have to worry about anesthesia complications.

Cons of Non-Surgical Treatments

Need for regular touch-ups – patients who have non-surgical procedures such as BOTOX and dermal fillers will need to have a touchup every couple of months in order to maintain the outcome of their treatment.

Added costs over time – while a single non-invasive treatment session is much more affordable, keep in mind that these costs could accumulate over time and even surpass traditional cosmetic surgery.


During your initial consultation visit to LaBarbera Plastic Surgery, the surgeon will examine your problem areas and recommend the best possible treatment regimen. In some cases, Dr. LaBarbera may combine both surgical and non-surgical treatment options to achieve a comprehensive outcome.