Medical Terminology

  • Print this page
    Print this Page
  • Email this page
    Email this Page

GLOSSARY: Medical Terminology

Cosmetic Plastic Surgery is pleased to provide a jargon free, alphabetically arranged glossary for our visitors. We believe that understanding medical terms helps to remove the mystery from medicine and facilitates effective communication between you and your physician. This is not an exhaustive list and consists of words an Illinois plastic surgery patient is likely to encounter when learning about cosmetic plastic surgery. If you're searching for a term not present in our glossary, please let us know.

Each entry is arranged by [1] the medical term, [2] a simplified pronounciation, and [3] its definition. We recognize that pronunciations differ among cultures and geography. Our simplified guide offers a common usage of each term.

abdominoplasty: (ăb dŏm’ ĭ nō plăs’ tē)
Surgery of the abdomen for cosmetic purposes.

actinic: (ăk t ĭn’ ĭk)
Pertaining to changes caused by the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.

anethesia: (ăn’ ěs thē’ zhi a)
Partial or complete loss of sensation, most often to prevent pain or discomfort during surgery.

anesthesiologist: (ăn’ ěs thē’ zē ŏl’ ō jist)
A physician who specializes in administering anesthesia.

anesthetist: (ăn’ ěs thě tist)
One who administers anesthetics, especially for general anesthesia; may be an anesthesiologist or specially trained nurse.

anticoagulant: (ăn’ te kō ăg’ ū lănt)
Delaying or preventing the process of the clumping together of blood cells to form a clot.

areola: (ă rē’ ō lă)
A circular area of different (usually darker) pigmentation around the nipple of the breast.

asymmetry: (ă sĭm’ ě trē)
Lack of symmetry (symmetry: similarity of form).

blepharoplasty: (blef’ ă rō plăs’ tē)
1. Any operation for the correction of a defect in the eyelid.
2. Surgery upon the eyelid.

deformity: (dĭ for’ mě tě)
1. Alteration in the natural form of a part of organ;
2. Distortion of any body part or general disfigurement of the body. A deformity may be acquired such as the result of injury, disease, or disorder or it may be congenital (congenital: present at birth).

degeneration: (Di jen’ ẽr ā' shŭn)
1. Deterioration (or impairment) of cells, tissues or an organ
2. A worsening of qualities.

dermabrasion: (d ěrm’ ă brā’ zhŭn)
A surgical procedure for removal of acne scars, nevi (nevi: skin blemish), tattoos, or fine wrinkles by using special abrasive tools on the epidermis (epidermis: outer layer of the skin).

embolism: (em’ bō l ĭzm)
Obstruction (blockage) of a blood vessel by foreign substances. The foreign substance could be fat, an air bubble or any of a number of substances. Blood clots are the most common type of embolus.

endoscopy: (ěn dŏs’ kŏ pē)
Examination of a body cavity by use of a endoscope. An endoscope is a lighted, tubelike instrument that can be inserted into a body cavity. (body cavity: a hollow place in the body such as the abdominal cavity)

anticoagulant: (ăn’ te kō ăg’ ū lănt)
Delaying or preventing the process of the clumping together of blood cells to form a clot.

excision: (ěk sĭ’ zhŭn)
The act of cutting away or taking out.

Back to Top

flap: (flăp)
A mass of partially detached tissue. A skin flap contains only skin. Flaps of hair-laden scalp can be used to treat baldness.

graft: (grăft)
A full thickness graft, usually circular, for transplanting skin containing hair follicles to a bald area (such as a scalp).

gynecomastia: (jĭn’ĭ kō mās’tē ə)
A condition of overdeveloped or enlarged breasts in men that can occur at any age. The condition can be the result of hormonal changes, heredity, obesity, or the use of certain drugs.

hemangiomas: (hē măń jē ō măs)
A reddish-purple birthmark. Flat types are also known as port wine stains.

hematoma: (hē’ mă tō’ mă)
A swelling or mass of blood (usually clotted) confined to an organ or tissue. It is caused by a broken blood vessel.

incision: (ĭn sĭzh’ ŭn)
A cut made with a knife, especially for surgical purposes.

lesion: (lē’ zh ŭn)
An injury or wound.

malar: (mā lăr)
Of the cheek or cheekbone.

mammaplasty: (măm’ ă plăs’ tē)
Cosmetic plastic surgery of the breast.

mammogram: (măm’ ō grăm)
X-ray of the breast.

mastoplexy: (măs’ tō pĕks ē)
Correction of a pendulous breast by surgery. A pendulous breast appears droopy and positioned lower than normal.

mentoplasty: (Mĕn’ tō plăs t ē)
Surgery of the chin, whereby its shape and/or size is altered.

Back to Top

otoplasty: ( ŏ’ tō plăs’ tē)
Surgery of the ear.

pigment: (p ĭg’ měnt)
Any organic coloring in blood or a derivative of it. Hemoglobin (a protein that contains iron) when combined with oxygen gives blood its red color.

pigmentation: (pĭg’ měn tā shŭn)
Coloration caused by deposits of pigment.

procedure: (prō sē jer)
A particular way of accomplishing a desired result.

ptosis: (tō’ s ĭs)
Dropping or drooping of an organ or body part.

pulmonary: (pŭl’ mō ně rē)
Concerning or involving the lungs.

rhinoplasty: (rī’ nō pl ăs’ tē)
Surgery of the nose to improve appearance and/or function.

rhytidectomy: (r ĭt’ ĭ děk’ tō mē)
A procedure to reduce wrinkles and sagging skin on the face and neck to make it appear younger. Commonly referred to as a face-lift.

Back to Top

sclerotherapy: (Sklĕr’ ō thĕr’ ă pē)
A way of treating varicose veins by injecting a solution into the vein.

seroma: (Sē rō' mă)
A mass or swelling caused by the localized accumulation of serum (serum: clear,watery fluid) within a tissue or organ.

superficial: (Soo’ pẽr fĭsh’ ăl)
Pertaining to or situated near the surface.

surgeon: (Sũr’ jŭn)
A physician who specializes in the treatment of disease, injury or other disorders by performing operations that involve cutting body tissue, such as the skin or other organs.

suture: (sū’ chũr)
The closing of a surgical incision or a wound by sutures (stitches) to hasten the healing process.

telangiectasia: (těl ăn’ jē  ěk tā’ ze ă)
An increase in the number and size of blood vessels in an area of the skin. It is often caused by overexposure to sunlight.

tissue: (t ĭ sh’ ū)
A group or collection of similar cells that perform a particular function. An example of tissue is epithelial tissue which forms the skin and mucous membrane that line the respiratory system and other internal body areas.

ulcer: (ŭl’ sěr)
An open sore or lesion of the skin or mucous membrane accompanied by sloughing of inflamed dead skin.

ulceration: (ŭl’ sěr ā shŭn)
To form an ulcer.

varicosity: (v ăr’ ĭ kŏs’ ĭ tē)
Condition of being varicose (varicose: distended, swollen, visible veins).

vascular: (v ăs’ kyoo lãr)
Pertaining to or composed of blood vessels.

venous: (vē nŭs)
Pertaining to the veins or blood passing through them.

Back to Top