Funny plastic and cosmetic surgery quotes, phrases, and expressions are reviewed in this educational writing. The writing is more for “fun” and “enjoyment” than any other reason. Doctors have their own language. It’s not just anatomy terms that might be unfamiliar, but doctors use expressions to convey concepts. These terms are sometimes funny or even peculiar. They are reviewed here for your amusement. Doctors can use words or terms that are difficult to understand. These expressions are meant to put concepts into easy to understand words. I hope you laugh and enjoy them!
1: “Spitting Stitches”
Surgical incisions are sutured by the plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon with advanced skill and technique. This includes gentle tissue handling, meticulous control of bleeding, and fine delicate sutures. Many procedures have buried or “internal” stitches that absorb or dissolve with time. This allows for an incision with no visible stitches and can minimize the scarring. Expectations are nice healing and fading of the scar. This is called scar maturation or scar fading with time.
During this healing process, one might find that the incision “spits” or things come out of the incision. This is very common. Most sutures used are absorbable and placed in the skin. As the skin heals and turns over, the suture works it’s way to the surface. This can come out and is called a “spitting stitch.” It doesn’t hurt at all! But, it can be scary to some people. The stitch won’t affect the cosmetic result, so there is no reason to worry.
Other aspects of a healing incision can lead to the incision spitting. During the repair of the skin, sweat glands, oil glands, and hairs can get blocked. This can lead to minor infections. These usually are no more concerning than a pimple. So don’t worry. You usually see redness, swelling, and minor pain in a small part of the incision. Some pus drainage is not uncommon. Treatment is usual just Neosporin and band aides. This will not affect the cosmetic outcome.
2: “Are You Eating, Drinking, Peeing, and Pooping?”
After surgery, patients are given specific and thorough instructions. A frequent question asked is, “What should I look for that might go wrong after surgery?” The standard answer is to look for high fevers (above 101.5 degrees), excessive bleeding, or excessive pain. My patients are given my personal cell phone for questions or concerns. However, if we check basic body functions and find they are well, we can then have a better assurance that all is well. Basic body functions are things like eating, drinking, urinating (peeing), and having bowel movements (pooping). If we are doing all these things, than we can often know that we are healing well after surgery.
This is not a guarantee that everything is perfect. It just means things appear to be going well, if they are all being done. It’s a good sign of progressing recovery.
3: “Be the Turtle!” and “Slow and Steady Wins the Race!”
Everyone who has cosmetic surgery or any type of surgery must allow appropriate time to heal and recover. We have busy lives, and many patients want their surgery and be healed instantaneously. This doesn’t happen!
If we don’t take time to heal, we can cause problems, increase risks, and delay healing. “Be the Turtle” is an expression referring to the fable of the tortoise and the haire (rabbit). In this story, the rabbit rushes ahead and then because he falls asleep, he loses the race. The expression refers to the idea that you need to go slow after surgery and take time to heal. Otherwise, you can actually cause problems and “lose” the race. The “race” is healing after surgery as quickly as possible, with no problems.
The expression “Slow and Steady Wins the Race” refers to the exact same concept. Follow the instructions given. Go slow and heal properly. Be wise. Don’t try and rush things or you will be the rabbit and lose.
4: “Circle the Wagon”
This is an expression used by surgeons. To my knowledge it is mainly used by a limited number of plastic surgeons. I learned it from Dr. Thomas Whetzel, a professor at the University of California. It refers to surgical dissection. When dissecting anatomy, you have to avoid working in just “one spot” and instead dissect around the entire area to more safely expose the anatomy.
If you are trying to isolate a particular nerve or vessel at surgery, dissection in one location might lead you into a hole with limited visibility. If you dissect above, below, and around this spot (circle the wagon) you will more safely identify the surgical anatomy. Circling the wagon is the best way to dissect safely for surgery.
5: “Exposure, Exposure, Exposure!”
This can be thought of like a realitor’s phrase of location, location, location. With surgery, proper exposure of the anatomy is critical to safely find and dissect nerves and blood vessels. It the surgeon has proper exposure, then he can see what anatomy to protect. This leads to less chance of injury to the surrounding anatomy.
The concept of exposure is similar to “circle the wagon.” The expressions are both related to ways the surgeon should operate or dissect. The surgeon must have all important vessels and nerves safely identified. This will minimize the chance of injury to the surrounding anatomy.
6: “Twinkle in the Eye”
Clinical experience can be more important than lab values and X-rays. When recovering from surgery, it’s important to be able to tell if the patient is recovering well. Recovery has its ups and downs, but the trend should be gradual improvement and healing. Patients often want to know if they are doing well and how to tell if they are not. The doctor can often look at a patient and tell if things are ok or not. A famous surgeon, Dr. F. William Blaisdell, called it “the twinkle in the eye.” If the patient was doing better or healing, you could tell from experience. Better than a blood level or X-ray, often just “seeing” the patient could help the doctor tell everything was ok.
This experience comes from years of taking care of patients. That’s why I tell my patients it’s important to keep their follow up appointments. By seeing them, I can get a better handle on their healing and what needs to be done to recover the best. If there is any question or concern, I tell my patients, “Just come into the office.” By seeing them, I can tell if they have a twinkle in the eye. It also helps to see what is really happening and if there is a problem or not.
Dr Blaisdell was one of my mentors at the University of California. He was a surgical pioneer, expert, and Professor and Chairman of the department of surgery. He invented the extra-anatomical bypass and started the first surgical ICU in California. He also started the first trauma center in California. He was a major influence on my training and a hard work ethic.
7: “Tincture of Time”
Sometimes during the healing process, a doctor can not tell for certain if there is a problem or not. An infection can sometimes take a while to manifest and with time it will be self evident. Treatment might be delayed to see if it was indeed a problem or not. This waiting peroiod can be called a “tincture of time.” A tincture is a word that in pharmacy means a medicine that is often alcohol based or containing a chemical. It can also mean a small dose, trace or tinge. A tincture of time means we are going to give it a small dose of time to see if it improves or not. Usually with time, the healing will be self evident or not. With a waiting period, the doctor will be able to better assess what is best. Typically no harm comes from a small wait. It is often a wise thing to do to minimize risks of unnecessary treatments.
I hope you enjoyed these funny plastic, cosmetic surgery expressions, phrases, and quotes!