Glossary of Terms

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Commonly called tummy, or belly. The area between the bottom of the ribs and bikini (pubic) line.


Also called a tummy tuck. A surgical procedure designed to minimize, tighten and firm the abdominal area. In abdominoplasty, the surgeon makes a long incision across the abdomen, from one hipbone to the other. Excess fat and skin are removed from the middle and lower abdomen, and the muscles of the abdomen wall are tightened.


A general term for the excision of tissue during surgery, commonly used to describe vaporization of tissue with the excimer laser.

Ablation Zone

The area of tissue that is removed during laser or other types of surgery.


A collection of pus “trapped” anywhere inside the body. Virtually all abscesses need to be incised and drained because this concentrated collection of large numbers of bacteria is resistant to antibiotics.


Teeth or implants that are used to support a fixed or removable bridge when one or more teeth are missing


A Vitamin A-related compound that inhibits sebaceous gland function and reformation of the outermost layer of skin. It is used in the treatment of severe acne that is unresponsive to antibiotics. Major cosmetic procedures performed on the skin surface should be NOT be undertaken within 12 to 18 months of the last dose of Accutane. Delayed healing and scarring coule result.


An inflammatory disease of the sebaceous glands (oil-producing glands), characterized by blackheads, whiteheads and pimples especially on the face, back and chest, and, in severe cases, by cysts and nodules, resulting in scarring. Hair follicles become plugged with sebum (oil produced by the sebaceous glands), bacteria and dead cells. Acne is seen primarily in adolescents, and tends to be slightly more common and more severe in males.


A plastic used to make artificial teeth, retainers, and other dental and orthodontic appliances.


Pertaining to changes caused by the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.

Actinic Keratosis

Single or multiple superficial skin lesions. These may be red, and most commonly have a gritty, sandpaper-like feel on the surface. They are found in chronically sun-exposed areas in over 50% of light skinned individuals over the age of 40. They are an indicator of chronic sun exposure, and are pre-malignant(i.e. are not cancerous but can become skin cancers if left untreated for a number of years).


A measurement of vision clarity or clearness. The most common measure of visual acuity is Snellen Acuity where completely normal acuity is expressed as 20/20. See 20/20 vision. Also known as clearness.


A tradename for the chemical ketorolac tromethamine. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory eyedrop used to reduce pain after laser vision correction procedure.


Appreciation of beauty.

Age Spots

Brown spots found on sun-exposed areas of the skin resulting from a localized cluster of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes). Also known as solar lentigos, or, by the common name of liver spots, these age spots are visible evidence of accumulated, long-term sun-damage. They are treated with lasers.

Aging spots

Darker skin spots caused by the gathering of skin pigment cells into patches. Occurs as a result of aging and sun exposure, most commonly on the back of the hands. They are best treated with 1 or 2 ruby or yag Q-switched laser treatments. These treatments can be performed with local or topical anesthetic. If large areas of the face are involved, the CO2 or erbium laser may be chosen, since these also provide the extra benefit of overall facial rejuvenation.

Air Abrasion

The use of air and an abrasive (usually tiny particles of aluminum oxide air-blasted in a stream of air) to remove tooth structure, such as decayed debris and ruined enamel of cavities. This is a relatively new technology in dentistry that often avoids the need for anesthetic with smaller fillings.


A rubber-like compound used to take impressions of patient's teeth.


Collagen sheets obtained from human organ donors. Placing this collagen under the skin replenishes the missing deeper layers of skin, thereby elevating depressed scars or skin wrinkles. It can also be placed in the lips to make them appear larger. The material can last more than 2 years without any visible loss of the collagen -- but there is no guarantee as to how long the correction will last. The edges of the sheet can felt but not usually seen for 4 to 6 weeks. After that, the edges cannot be felt or seen. Alloderm is not subject to transplant rejection or common infections. It is processed according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration and American Association of Tissue Banks regulations.


Medical term for hair loss.

Alpha hydroxy acids

A group of acids with a specific general chemical structure available in various strengths. Used in chemical peels to improve the appearance of the skin. Weaker strengths are found in over-the-counter cleansing and cosmetic products that maintain or rejuvenate skin.


The most common material used for the dental filling that is used to repair decayed teeth (cavities). Commonly referred to as silver fillings, amalgam is typically silver colored and is made with a mix of silver, tin, mercury and some other trace elements, such as copper. Amalgams are usually placed in the back or posterior teeth. Advantages - easier placement than other materials and less expensive. Disadvantages - unfavorable color, filling breaks down in the mouth releasing mercury and other trace metals, and stains teeth over time. Metals expand and contract in the presence of hot and cold which can create fractures in teeth.


A condition in which the vision in the non-dominant eye is poor as a result of a visual abnormality early in life. Also know as cycloplegic and lazy eye.


The refractive condition where parallel rays do not focus on the retina that is, there is an imperfection in the refractive state of the eye.


Partial or complete loss of sensation, brought on by an anasthetic drug, most often to prevent discomfort during surgery.


A physician who specializes in administering anesthesia after completing extensive medical school and hospital training in this field. The best anesthesiologists are usually board certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology.


Chemical that causes anesthesia (loss of sensation, numbness).


A type of drug that eliminates or reduces pain, by numbing the area to be worked on.


One who administers anesthetics, especially for general anesthesia; may be an anesthesiologist or specially trained nurse.


A condition where there is a difference in imaging size between the two eyes.


A condition where there is a difference in refractive power of the two eyes in which the variance is at least one diopter.


An adjective used to describe things pertaining to front teeth (central incisors, lateral incisors and cuspids). The front six teeth.

Anterior Chamber

A fluid-filled area of the eye between the cornea and the lens. The fluid is known as aqueous ...A fluid-filled area of the eye between the cornea and the lens. The fluid is known as aqueous ...

Antibiotic Prophylaxis

Administering antibiotics to patients who are at high risk for bacterial endocarditis (inflammation of the endocardium, the membrane lining the cavities of the heart) before performing dental procedures. Antibiotics help kill bacteria that may enter the bloodstream during dental procedures. This usually affects people with certain heart murmurs or who have just had joint replacement or hear surgery.


Delaying or preventing the process of the clumping together of blood cells to form a clot.


Any synthetic or natural substance that is capable of counteracting the damaging effects of oxidation (when oxygen molecules break down) in body tissues. Oxidation produces potentially harmful molecules such as free radicals. Antioxidants convert free radicals into harmless waste products. Examples of antioxidants are Vitamins A, C, E and Selenium.


The tip or end of the root of a tooth.

Aqueous Humor

the fluid in the anterior chamber. See anterior chamber.


A circular area of different (usually darker) pigmentation surrounding the nipple of the breast.A circular area of different (usually darker) pigmentation surrounding the nipple of the ...


A condition where there is a difference in imaging size between the two eyes.

Argon Laser

A device that produces laser light from argon gas. The main wavelengths are 488.0 nm blue and 514.5 nm pea green light, but nine separate wavelengths in the blue-green visible light spectrum are produced. Many of the lasers used in laser eye surgery are argon lasers.

Array Multifocal Intraocular Lens

A lens implant used in cataract surgery that provides clear vision both near and far. This is accomplished by structure of the surface of the lens, which contains concentric rings of varying power around a central power for distance. The rings of power are for the near distances, while the central distance power is "dominant." Thus, there is little if any loss or sacrifice of distance vision to obtain near vision. 50% of the lens is dedicated to distance vision, 36% to near vision, and 14% to intermediate ranges.A lens implant used in cataract surgery that provides clear vision both near and far. This is ...


Blood vessel through which blood flows away from the heart to the capillaries, where oxygen is released from the red blood cells for use by the body.


The surgical fusing of bones to prevent motion in a joint. This is commonly performed in the hand to cure the incapacitating pain of arthritis or to treat severe traumatic injuries.


A mechanical device that holds models of the teeth in the same alignment as a patient's jaw so dentists can study a patient's bite and jaw movements.


The natural optical shape of the cornea. This shape determines the number of light rays falling on the retina and the sharpness of image under all types of lighting conditions. When this shape is altered, there can be optical aberrations such as glare or shadows.


Can be used as a verb or a noun in relation to liposuction. v. To suction something (fat and fluids in the case of liposuction). n. The material (fat and fluids) that has been suctioned from the body and has passed into the cannula, hose or collection apparatus.


In liposuction, the suction machine that "vacuums" the fat into the cannula. The aspirator is usually an electrical pump with filters and usually contains collection bottles, bags or containers into which the fat and any suctioned material (or aspirate) accumulates and settles. In liposuction, the suction machine that "vacuums" the fat into the cannula. The aspirator is ...

Astigmatic Keratotomy

A surgical procedure in which microscopic incisions are placed in the peripheral cornea to create a more spherical shape. This technique has largely been replaced by more advanced laser vision correction techniques. Also known as AK.


A condition in which the surface of the cornea is elliptical rather than spherical. Causes a blurred image to be received at the retina. Refractive correction includes a lens that has focusing power in one axis and no power in the opposite axis. Astigmatism is often expressed in the second number of lens prescriptions and is measured in diopters.


A cosmetic that cleans the skin and temporarily tightens the pores. Astringents are very effective in removing oils and soap residue from the skin.


Lack of symmetry; unbalanced.

Athlete's Foot

The common name for a fungal infection of the feet, otherwise known as tinea pedis. It is characterized by very itchy, scaly, burning, red lesions that mostly affect the soles of the feet and the spaces between the toes.

Atopic Dermatitis

Inherited skin disorder that usually appears first in infancy on the face or trunk, and in later childhood, appears more frequently on the inner creases of elbows and behind the knees. It is a chronic (ongoing) inflammatory skin disorder characterized by extreme itching, with scaly, crusty red bumps. Allergies, hay fever and asthma frequently accompany it. Atopic dermatitis often improves with age but can continue into adulthood.


The process of building up or increasing the structure beneath the skin.

Augmentation Mammaplasty

Breast enlargement surgery.


A device that sterilizes instruments or materials using high pressure, heat and/or chemicals.

Autologous tissue breast reconstruction

The use of the patient’s own tissues to reconstruct a new breast mound. The most common technique is the TRAM (transverse rectus abdominous muscle) flap. A TRAM flap involves removing an area of fat, skin, and muscle from the abdomen and stitching it in place to the mastectomy wound.

Automated Lamellar Keratoplasty

A surgical procedure utilizing a micro planing device to remove a microscopic section of corneal tissue. Used to correct large amounts of myopia and mild to moderate amounts of hyperopia. This procedure has been replaced by the significantly more accurate laser vision correction techniques. Also known as ALK.A surgical procedure utilizing a micro planing device to remove a microscopic section of corneal ...


A line passing through the center of curvature of an optical surface. The axis defines the surface's symmetrical center.


A device that sterilizes instruments or materials using high pressure, heat and/or chemicals.

Baby Teeth

A child's first set of twenty teeth that are eventually replaced by permanent teeth. Also known as primary or deciduous teeth.

Basal cell carcinoma

The most common type of skin cancer. It begins in the basal cells of the outermost layer of skin, external root sheath of hair follicles or from a precursor lesion (sore). They occur most frequently on the face. They are locally invasive. Only 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 35,000 metastasize to distant areas of the body. These cancers bleed easily when rubbed.


A cement or other insulating material applied under a filling or crown to decrease sensitivity to heat or cold and to protect the pulp. Also, the portion of a denture or partial denture that is supported by the bony ridge and holds the artificial teeth.

Benzoyl Peroxide

A compound that is among the most common medications used to treat acne. Benzoyl peroxide is a powerful antibacterial agent that significantly decreases the bacteria that cause acne. In addition, it reduces the fats and oils on the skin and helps to shed the top layers of dead skin cells.

Best-corrected Spectacle Visual Acuity (BCVA)

the best clearness or sharpness that can be achieved through lens correction. Often used to describe the refractive condition of an eye after laser surgery. If the vision can't be corrected to its preoperative visual acuity with lenses then there may be an irregular corneal surface (irregular astigmatism). If so, a hard contact lens may be necessary to get the best visual acuity.

Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA)

Salicylic acid, the only BHA, is an organic acid that is commonly used in skin care products. It is found in facial peels because of its ability to soften the skin and cause shedding of the top layers of dead skin cells. It is also used in skin care products to enhance the absorption and penetration into the skin of other ingredients that are in the same cosmetic formulation.

Bicuspid (Premolar)

The two-cusped, double-pointed teeth found between the molar and the cuspid (canine tooth). Each person's mouth has eight bicuspids - two in each quadrant.


A lens having one segment for near vision and one segment for far vision.


Of or relating to both eyes.


The way the mouth closes and how the upper and lower teeth come together. Also called occlusion.

Bitewing X-rays

X-rays used to find cavities, primarily between teeth. The upper and lower teeth are shown on the same film.


A lesion seen in acne that is caused when the hair follicle becomes filled with a plug of oil, bacteria and cells but remains open to the skin surface. Because the plug is open and exposed to air, oxidation of one of the components of the plug causes the surface of the plug to turn black.

Bleaching (tooth whitening)

The process of brightening or whitening stained, discolored, or dull teeth with an in-office power bleaching method, or dentist-supervised at-home whitening systems. Most materials are peroxide based and may take from one visit to two weeks.

Bleaching Creams 

Common term used to describe skin care products that lighten areas of the skin that are darker than the surrounding skin. More accurately known as depigmentation products (there is no bleach), they inhibit the production of melanin, the skin pigment, by the pigment-producing cells known as melanocytes. These products do not lighten the normal skin. Examples of depigmentation agents include hydroquinone, azelaic acid, and kojic acid.


A surgical procedure in which the physician removes excess fat, muscle, and skin from either or both the upper and lower eye lids to redefine the shape of the eye. This procedure can be cosmetic or reconstructive.

Board Certified

Having passed a test given by a "board" of "authoritative" individuals. Some board-certification exams test only a doctor's memory on paper or by computer, some tests are oral (verbal questions and answers) and some tests are physical, in which examiners observe the doctor being tested, and involve treatment or examination of a patient.

Body Contouring

Refers to the group of plastic surgery procedures used to change body contours. It includes abdominoplasty or tummy tuck, brachioplasty, liposuction, thigh buttock lifts, reduction mammaplasty (breast reduction) and mastopexy (breast lift).


This is the technique of applying composite resin (a tooth colored filling material) to the teeth by means of etching the tooth surface and using special adhesives to bond the composite resin to the tooth. Also used to repair a tooth, and change its color or shape.


Botox (botulism toxin) is a compound produced by bacteria. It temporarily paralyzes muscle, beginning about 1 week after being injected into the muscle. Lasts 3-6 months. Repeat injections are usually required.

Botox Injections

A procedure involving the injection of botulism toxin A into the creases normally on the upper third of the face, between the eyebrows, the forehead and “crows feet” wrinkles lateral to the eyes. The treatment temporarily paralyzes the muscles for 3-6 months.

Bowman's Membrane

the non-regenerative layer of tissue between the epithelial and the stromal layers of the cornea. This layer is not affected by LASIK but is during a PRK procedure.


An orthodontic appliance that corrects dental irregularities by gradually repositioning the teeth.


Plastic surgery performed on the upper arm to improve contours. It involves removal of skin on the inner part of the upper arm to tighten it, and may involve liposuction to the area as well.

Breast augmentation

A surgical procedure to enhance the size and shape of a woman's breast. Maybe performed to enhance the body contour of a woman who feels her breasts are too small, to correct a reduction in breast volume, to balance a difference in breast size, or to reconstruct a breast after breast surgery. This procedure involves insertion of implants to increase breast size and to provide fuller breasts.

Breast lift

Similar to breast reduction but involves removal of excess breast skin; the nipple is brought up to a normal position, changing breast shape but not size.

Breast reconstruction

A procedure or series of procedures performed to rebuild a breast mound. Most often performed after the partial complete removal of a breast due to breast cancer.

Breast reduction (Reduction mammaplasty)

A surgical procedure most often performed for reasons such as back aches, shoulder problems, and breast crease irritation; involves reducing the breasts through the removal of excess skin and breast tissue.


Often used when one or more teeth are missing, a bridge consists of a replacement tooth that is attached to crowns on the adjacent teeth. The replacement tooth is shaped to fit the contours of its adjacent teeth, and the bridge is cemented to the teeth so it doesn't come off.

Broad Beam Laser

a medical instrument that produces a powerful beam of light that is focused at close range to remove corneal tissue. A broad beam laser uses a relatively large beam diameter (from 6.0 to 8.0 millimeters) which can be manipulated to ablate the cornea.  

Brow lift

A surgical procedure designed to correct changes to the upper face caused by time including forehead lines, drooping eyebrows and upper lids, and frown lines. These facial characteristics can make people appear tired and older than they really are.


Involuntary clenching or tooth grinding often caused by stress. Most often done at night, while sleeping.


The surface of a tooth that is toward the inside of the cheek.


An injury to the skin caused by flame, heat liquid or solid, chemicals or abrasive surfaces, such as road burn. The depth of injury is referred to as first, second or third degree. Chemical peels, laser treatments, and dermabrasion are controlled forms of first or second degree burns.

Burn Reconstruction

A procedure undertaken after recovery from an acute burn. Usually involving a series of complex operative procedures to restore form and function to disfigured portions of the body.


A hard deposit of mineralized plaque where bacteria forms and attaches on the crown and/or root of the tooth. Also referred to as tartar. Calculus ranges from yellow to brown and forms on teeth when oral hygiene is improper or incomplete and plaque is allowed to harden.


The narrow chamber inside the root of the tooth that contains the nerve and blood vessels.


The pointy teeth next to the lateral incisors. They have one point and are also called cuspids.


The hand-held instrument that is moved by the surgeon -- partly inside the patient -- to remove fat during liposuction.

Cantilever Bridge

A fixed bridge that attaches to adjacent teeth on only one side.

Caps or Crowns

Both these terms are synonymous. They refer to the restoration of teeth by the removal of the outer most 1-2mm of the tooth and replacement with color matched porcelain (or porcelain fused to metal substructure). Made by a laboratory (the quality of the lab can severely affect the aesthetics and longevity of the crown), crowns can be bonded or cemented to the prepared tooth, replacing damaged or missing tooth structure and restoring the natural appearance of the tooth by altering the color, shape and position.

Capsular contracture

The most common complication of breast reconstruction surgery. Occurs if the scar or capsule around the implant begins to tighten.


Surgical removal of the breast implant capsule.


The surgical removal of a capsule, or residual tissue from cataract surgery. See YAG laser.


A name for any cancer that develops from cells that cover the outside and inside surfaces of the body, for example, the skin cells and cells that line the stomach and intestines.


Another name for cavities or tooth decay. It is the progressive breaking down or dissolving of tooth structure, caused by the acid produced when bacteria digest sugars.


A body tissue characterized by its low blood supply, ability to maintain shape & small number of cells dispersed in a matrix of material produced by those cells. There are different types of cartilage that have different properties, such as flexibility. Cartilage forms the central layer of the ear, the tip of the nose & the common wall between the nasal airways. This type allows the ear and nose to maintain their shape and yet remain flexible. A nonflexible cartilage covers the ends of bones on joint surfaces and allows smooth non-painful range of motion.


A cloudiness or opacity of the normally clear lens of the eye. There are many causes of cataracts, including aging, cortisone medication, trauma, diabetes, and other diseases. Treatments can include surgical implantation of a new lens. See cataract surgery.

Cataract surgery

Removal of the clouded (cataractous)lens in its entirety by surgery, and replacement of the lens with an intraocular lens (IOL) made of plastic. The typical cataract operation takes about an hour, requires local anesthesia only, and usually does not need hospitalization. See intraocular lens.


A hole in the tooth due to decalcification of the enamel and disintegration of the dentin by acid producing bacteria.

CE Mark

When displayed, this mark indicates a medical device fulfills requirements for sale in the 15-nation European Union.


Common term used to describe the uneven pitted surface or dimpling of the skin commonly seen on the thighs of women. It is common in women, is rarely seen in men, and begins at various ages. Cellulite may or may not be improved, and may even be made worse, by liposuction. Endodermologie may help but the effect is usually temporary.


A special type of adhesive used to hold crowns, permanent bridges and certain appliances in place.

Central Incisors

The two teeth at the midline in both the upper and lower arches.

Central Island

A complication of laser vision correction where the laser beam fails to remove a portion of cornea, usually in the center of the area to be removed. If the concave area of the ablation is a lake this complication is an island of tissue sticking up in the center. Visual symptoms include monocular double vision or distortion.

Central Optical Zone

The center area of the cornea, critical clear vision. Incisions in RK procedure are made around this zone.

Cephalometric X-Rays

An X-ray of the head that allows the dentist to study the alignment of the teeth, jaws and jaw joints. Used primarily by orthodontists to diagnose and plan treatment.


The Ceramist is the laboratory technician that makes the caps or crowns. The creation of lustrous and natural restorations requires the technician to have great artistic talent.

Chemical peel

In-office treatment involving the placement of a chemical on the skin surface to treat facial wrinkles, abnormal skin growths or abnormal skin pigmentation. The chemicals used are acids such as phenol, salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids. It can reduce or eliminate fine lines under the eyes and around the mouth, correct uneven skin pigmentation, remove pre-cancerous skin growths, and soften acne or treat the scars caused by acne. Old skin will be replaced during the healing process with a fresh, new skin surface.


An anti fungal agent that effectively inhibits the growth of various yeasts and fungi that cause fungal infections of the skin. Ciclopirox has anti-inflammatory properties that relieve the redness, itching and swelling of the affected skin and also has anti-bacterial activity to treat bacteria in the affected area.


A device that is used to hold a removable partial denture in place.

Cleft lip

A birth defect involving a separation in the upper lip. It causes disfigurement and makes feeding more difficult. Repair is performed to close the opening and create a normal lip and nose.

Cleft palate

A birth defect in which a lack of tissue development results in an opening in the roof of the mouth. The mouth and nasal cavity, normally separated by the palate, are open. Surgery to close the opening allows proper speech development, helps correct hearing problems, and allows for more normal dental growth and appearance.


Major protein of connective tissue, bone, cartilage, skin, tendons, and scar tissue. When a wound or incision heals, collagen fibers are created by cells near the wound. These fibers are crosslinked or weaved, in effect strengthening the sealing of the wound so the edges do not come apart. Thus if collagen production is insufficient, wounds do not heal. If it is overproduced, unsightly scars such as keloids can be formed.

Collagen/Fat Injectable Fillers

A plastic surgery technique involving the injection using collagen or fat. Used to correct wrinkles, depressions in the skin, and/or scarring and lip augmentation. See also soft tissue augmentation.


Enlarged hair follicles filled with sebum (oil), dead cells and bacteria. If they are open to the skin surface, they are known as blackheads or open comedones. If they are closed to the skin surface, they are known as whiteheads or closed comedones.

Complication (surgical)

Any problem that can arise during or after surgery. Complications can be transient (short-lived) or permanent. They can be minor or serious. They can be obvious or hidden. Doctors speak of complications in terms of the risk of having that complication. Risk is usually given as a percentage of chance of a given problem happening within a given time frame.

Composite Inlay

A two-visit procedure to repair the decayed area of back (posterior) teeth. The restoration is made in a lab of highly filled resins and cemented directly into the tooth.

Composite resin

Tooth-colored filling material made of resin reinforced with silica or porcelain particles. Main advantages are color, and ability to strengthen weekend teeth. Disadvantages are they may shrink, stain, and wear out faster than natural teeth.

Computer imaging

The use of a computer to give a patient an idea of how they might look following a procedure such as liposuction. (The use of these devices may sometimes be misleading.)

Concave Lens

A type of lens with a hollow shape like the inside surface of a ball. A lens of this type diverges the light rays that will be entering the eye, moving the true focal point of the light to a point in front of the lens. This effect corrects the refractive defect in the nearsighted eye. Concave lenses are minus power lenses.

Confrontation Visual Fields

A test of peripheral vision. It is performed to identify vision defects that may indicate disease, such as glaucoma.


A delicate mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the white surface of the eye. The conjunctiva joins the eyeball at the edge of the cornea, called the limbus.


The effect of scar tissue contracting upon itself. After a burn, a burn scar contracture may occur. After placement of breast implants, the capsule can contract and squeeze the implant into a tight, hard, round mass, hence the name capsular contracture.

Contrast Sensitivity

A method of testing overall vision quality varying the illumination and size of the object being viewed. This is considered a more comprehensive test than the standard Snellen test.

Convex Lens

A lens with a bulging surface like the outer surface of a ball. A lens of this shape collects the light rays that will be entering the eye and reduces the distance to the focal point. Convex lenses are positive power lenses and are used to correct hyperopia or far sightedness and for reading glasses, as needed to correct presbyopia.


The transparent front structure of the eye that covers the iris. The cornea has 5 layers: the corneal epithelium, Bowman's Membrane, the corneal stroma, Descemet's Membrane, and the corneal endothelium. Refractive procedures, such as LASIK involve changing the shape of the cornea.

Corneal Curvature

The shape of the cornea measured in diopters or millimeters of curvature. This characteristic is responsible for 70% of the eyes focusing power.

Corneal Endothelium

The innermost layer of cells of the cornea. The endothelium serves three main purposes in the eye: regulation of the water content of the stroma, providing a barrier to ingress of several constituents of the aqueous humor, and actively transporting glucose, the fuel used by cells.

Corneal Epithelium

The outermost layer cells of the cornea. The epithelium is the eye's first defense against infection.

Corneal Haze

A complication of refractive surgery characterized a cloudiness of the normally clear cornea. This complication sometimes occurs after PRK and but rarely after LASIK. Any build up of inflammatory infiltrates (white blood cells), extra moisture, scar tissue, or foreign substances (like drugs) can cause a clouding of the cornea. Most types of haze will disappear with time or drug treatment but it can be sometimes permanent.

Corneal Periphery

The area of the cornea outside the central optical zone. See central optical zone.

Corneal Stroma

The thickest layer of the cornea, it lies between the Bowman's membrane and Descemet's membrane.

Corneal Topographer

A device used to measure and evaluate the corneal curvature of the eye. Lines and circles within the machine are used to observe the corneal reflex. This device also includes a means of recording corneal curvature by taking photographs of the cornea. Also known as a keratoscope or photokeratoscope.

Corneal Topographical Map

A record of the surface profile of the cornea produced by a corneal topographer or keratoscope.

Corneal Topography

A quantitative measurement of corneal curvature. The process is performed using a unique camera/computer combination called a corneal topographer or keratoscope. Used to determine corneal slope and astigmatism for laser vision - refractive correction. Also used post-operatively to measure the results of laser vision - refractive treatment. The computer data can manipulated to show the efficacy of ablation and the quality of smoothness of the final refracted surface. See corneal topographer.


Any of the steroids that are either produced naturally by the cortex of the adrenal gland or are synthesized. This is a large group of compounds that have specific effects on the body. Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, corticosteroids are used in skin care products to treat skin diseases such as psoriasis where inflammation (redness, swelling, itching) is present.

Cosmetic contouring

Reshaping the natural teeth to make them straighter or more youthful in appearance.

Cosmetic dentistry

Field of dentistry dedicated to the art and science of enhancing a person’s smile, overall appearance, and oral health.

Cosmetic plastic surgery (Also called aesthetic plastic surgery)

One type of plastic surgery performed to reshape otherwise normal structures of the body, primarily to improve the patient's appearance and self-esteem.

Cover Test

The test that is used to determine whether a patient has strabismus, or abnormal alignment. The test measures the movement of each eye independently to visual stimuli to detect abnormal reactions, indicating the eyes will not work well together. See strabismus.

Craniofacial surgery

A complex and delicate procedure or series of procedures that involve rebuilding the facial bones and tissues, or replacing tissue, so that a normal anatomical appearance is achieved.

CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist)

A registered nurse specially trained in anesthesia, who has been certified by completion of special training (including hospital) and an examination. Note that CRNA's have not gone to medical school and do not have the same length of training that anesthesiologists do.

Crow's feet

The facial wrinkles of aging that form at the outer corners of the eyes and extend towards the temples. If mild, they can be temporarily eradicated by Botox injections. A browlift or facelift may be performed to give a more permanent and/or effective result.


The portion of the tooth covered by enamel. Also a type of restoration that covers all or most of a decayed or damaged tooth. Restorative crowns are usually made of gold, porcelain or a combination of both and are used when a tooth cannot be restored with a filling.

Crown Lengthening

A surgical procedure used to expose more tooth. Necessary when tooth is too short to put a restoration on, or when decay has gone too far down the root of the tooth toward the bone.


Acronym for The Council for Refractive Surgery Quality Assurance. The council is an independent, nonprofit, patient/consumer health organization that evaluates, monitors, and verifies the quality of the surgeries provided by select refractive surgeons in the United States.


A surgical procedure that uses freezing temperature (from liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide) to destroy tissue. Cryosurgery is used on the skin to remove warts, actinic keratoses, seborrheic keratosis(age Spots), tumors or acne lesions for example.


A procedure whereby tissue is removed by scraping.


The part of the molar or bicuspid that is pointed (unless worn down) and used to grind and tear food.


Used for biting and tearing, they are large single-cusped (pointed) teeth, located between the incisors and bicuspids. Also known as canine teeth or eyeteeth.

Cycloplegic Refraction

The true lens prescription of an eye measured when focusing ability of the eye has been inactivated through the administration of a chemical.

Cylinder meridian

In ophthalmology, a line that is the symmetrical center of a curved optical surface. Also a measure of astigmatism.


1) Superficial skin cells that have been driven down to a deeper level where they become walled off, or 2) Plugged glands (sebaceous cysts) that normally produce lubricants etc. for the skin surface.


The loss of calcium from teeth. This weakens teeth and makes them more susceptible to decay. Usually appears as white spots at the gum line or between the teeth.


The destruction or decomposition of organic matter as a result of acid produced by bacterial or fungal action. See caries.


A complication of laser eye surgery caused by movement of the pupil during the surgical procedure. The condition can often be corrected with an enhancement procedure. In perfect centration the center of the corneal ablation exactly coincides with the center of the visual axis and/or pupil. This condition is caused when the ablation area is not perfectly centered. Decentration can cause various symptoms including edge glare or even monocular double vision.


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 as the result of injury, disease, or disorder or it may be congenital (present at birth).


Deterioration (or impairment) of cells, tissues or an organ.

Dental Implant

An artificial device usually made of a metal alloy or ceramic that is implanted within the jaw bone to replace tooth root and is used to anchor an artificial tooth, crown, or bridge. It is different than a bridge, because it is permanently attached to the jaw.


This is the tooth material directly under the enamel layer. It is somewhat softer than enamel, more sponge like in texture, and more yellow in color.


The natural teeth and how they are arranged in the mouth, after eruption. The dentition may be made up of primary teeth, permanent teeth or a combination of both.


A plastic appliance with plastic or porcelain teeth attached to it. Used to replace all missing teeth in one arch.


A surgical sanding procedure used to remove acne scars, blemishes, tattoos, or fine wrinkles by using special abrasive tools on the outer layer of the skin. Since the early 1990s laser skin resurfacing has replaced dermabrasion in most cases. Laser treatments allows better control of the depth of skin injury, and they are associated with less pain after surgery than dermabrasion.


A plastic surgery technique used to treat deep acne scars with a hand-held instrument called a dermatome. See dermatome.


The presence of excess eyelid skin. This contributes to the appearance of upper & lower eyelid bags.

Dermatologic surgery

A branch of dermatology in which the doctors are not only trained in dermatology (skin cancers, skin cancer surgery, skin healing, wound healing, etc.) but also in surgery of skin and underlying fat. Tumescent liposuction, now accepted as the safest and most effective form of liposuction was invented and developed by dermatologic surgeons.


A medical specialist of the skin.


A layer of the skin that lies just below the epidermis, or outermost layer of the skin, on most of the body. The dermis protects the body from mechanical injury, binds water, stores water, maintains temperature and carries nerves to detect sensation and feeling. Blood vessels, lymph vessels, nerves, sweat glands, oil glands, hair follicles, hair erecting muscles, and other structures reside in or course through the dermis.


An injectable form of human collagen obtained from the same organ donors as Alloderm. This material does not require an initial test dose for allergy as does the commonly used cow collagen. It most likely lasts longer than injectable cow collagen but probably not as long as the collagen sheets (Alloderm). Like the other types of collagen, it is used to lessen facial wrinkles, scar pit depth & skin folds.

Descemet's membrane

The layer of the cornea between the stroma and endothelium. This membrane provides an adhesion layer for the endothelium.


The balance of hydration in the eye.

Deviated septum

See Septal deviation.


This is a space or gap that occurs between two adjacent teeth. Often refers to a space between two front teeth.

Dilated Fundus Examination

An examination of retinal tissue health in the back of the eyes. See dilation.


A process, when performed on the pupil of the eye, which allows visualization of the anatomic structures behind the iris in the back of the eye. Doctors use mydriatics, pharmaceutical drops that act upon the muscles of the iris, to enlarge the pupil diameter.


A unit of measurement for optical lenses. The number of diopters indicates the quantitative change in the distance between the lens and the focal point of light rays entering the lens. A positive diopter value describes a convex lens, while a negative value describes a concave lens. This differentiation describes the focal point of light entering a convex lens as being beyond the lens, while the focal point of light entering a concave lens as being in front of the lens. See convex lens, concave lens.


A condition characterized by seeing multiple images. If the effect is with both eyes it is called binocular diplopia, but if occurring in only one eye it is monocular diplopia.

Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)

A degree that is given to dental school graduates. Same as DDS, Doctor of Dental Surgery.

Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)

A degree that is given to dental school graduates. Same as DMD, Doctor of Dental Medicine.

Dorsal hump

Refers to the bump on the bridge of the nose. This dorsal hump is usually made smaller during Rhinoplasty surgery.

Double eyelid surgery

Many Asians have puffy upper eyelids, and no visible upper lidfold (a feature nearly always present in Caucasians). Eyes without the fold are referred to as "single eyelids" and those with the fold as "double eyelids.” Additionally, the fat descends into the eyelid, giving a puffy look. The surgical procedure to correct this involves removing some of this fat and suturing these layers, as well as the skin of the eyelid, to the upper edge of the eyelid cartilage to create a fold. TThe result is creation of a double lid with less puffiness.

Double lumen breast implant

Refers to the presence of one silicone shell completely contained within another. The external bag contains silicone gel. The internal bag can be filled with saline. A filling tube is attached to the implant to allow the surgeon to change the volume of saline in the implant after surgery. There are 2 types of double lumen implants. One is 50:50 saline to gel the other is 25:75 saline to gel. The valve & reservoir can be hidden under the skin for volume changes after surgery & removed in the office under local anesthesia."


Unwanted movement of teeth.

Dry eye

A syndrome characterized by corneal dryness due to deficient tear production.

Dry method

Oldest and most antiquated type of liposuction technique.


Any abnormality in the color of the skin. Dyschromia can occur from over-exposure to the sun and is more common on the face, neck, upper chest and hands. Dyschromia can also result from hormone replacementusage, or pregnancy, or be associated with various diseases or hereditary disorders.

Ear, Nose and Throat(ENT) Surgeon

Also known as an otolaryngologist. Some of these doctors are certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology and are members of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery as well.


A condition that can be a complication of laser eye surgery involving a progressive corneal thinning and bulging. Indications of this complication include a loss of the corrected vision in the eye.


Turning outward of an edge; generally refers to a rare condition of the eyelid in which the lining of the eyelid is exposed.


General term for inflammatory conditions of the skin. Eczema can be an acute (short term) or chronic (ongoing) condition with redness, papules, blisters, pustules, scales, crusts or scabs alone or in combination with watery discharge and accompanied by itching and burning. Eczema is, more accurately, a description of symptoms rather than a disease.


An accumulation of an excessive amount of fluid in tissues. The medical term for swelling.


Having no teeth or being toothless in an area, an arch or an entire mouth.


A connective tissue protein that forms resilient fibers in the skin and allows the skin to snap back when stretched.


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 cause.


A patient who exhibits no refractive error.


Having perfect distance vision without the need of lens correction. The ophthalmic term for a normal eye in which light rays focus correctly on the retina, that is, there is no nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism.


An agent that will make the skin soft and smooth by increasing hydration, or water content, of the outer layer of skin. Petrolatum is an example of an emollient that is widely used in products applied to the skin.


An emulsion is a preparation of one liquid that is distributed in small droplets throughout another liquid. For instance, water droplets may be dispersed throughout oil, or oil may be dispersed throughout water. Creams and lotions require the presence of an emulsifier to allow the combination of water and oils.


The hard portion of the tooth that covers the crown. It is the hardest tissue in the body. It protects the tooth from the wear and tear of chewing, and insulates from extreme temperatures.


A prefix meaning within or inside.


A non-surgical deep massage technique. Involves the use of an externally applied vacuum with 2 rotating rollers in the handpiece through which the vacuum is applied to the skin. The technician rolls the vacuum over most parts of the outer skin that are not too curved. Leotard type garments are worn during the procedure to minimize bruising. The technique is comfortable and is usually performed at least twice to three times a week. The effects are mostly temporary. No fat is removed and you should not lose any weight as a result of Endodermologie alone. After multiple treatments (as many as 10 to 15) the end result is much the same as 1 liposuction treatment for those with minimal to moderate excess fat to start with. It is not recommended as the sole treatment for those with marked excess fat. The technique is not invasive. The effect is to gently pull on the surface of the skin. The vacuum likely pulls on the tethers and loosens or stretches them. If you are one of the fortunate patients to have a good result, you will likely need to keep returning for Endodermologie treatments in order to maintain it.


The branch of dentistry that deals with diseases of the dental pulp and periapical area. The most common procedure in this area is root canal treatment. A specialist who does root canals and treats diseases and infections of the tooth pulp.


an inflammation within the eye. Inflammations may be caused by organisms such as bacteria or may be sterile as in immune disorders. Endophthamistis is a term indicating a condition of having an infectious disease of the eye and is occasionally a complication of eye surgery.


A lighted tube-like instrument that can be inserted to look into an organ or cavity such as the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, colon, or rectum.


A general term for a layer of cells that lines an internal body surface or cavity. See corneal endothelium.


A term for additional laser treatments made to refine or improve the original visual result. Because enhancement treatment usually a small correction these procedures traditionally have a highly accurate outcome. See regression.

Entrance wound

In liposuction, the cut (incision) made in the skin that is usually just large enough to fit a cannula (suction tube).


Turning inward or inversion of the eyelid margin. The eyelashes may then scratch the cornea.

Epicanthal fold

A fold of skin extending from the nose to the inner edge of the eyebrow above the nose. It can overlap & cover the inner corner of the eye. This is commonly seen in the Asian population. The fold is treated by augmenting the bridge with cartilage or synthetic material.


The outermost layer of the skin. The epidermis contains no nerves or blood vessels, so the epidermis alone is incapable of sensation or bleeding. Composed of a protective outer layer of nonliving cells, the epidermis acts as an envelope or seal against the environment.


A condition characterized by having one or more watery eyes. The tears accumulate in the eye and trickle over the cheek.

Epithelial Ingrowth

A complication of LASIK surgery wherein epithelial cells grow underneath the corneal flap. This can be treated by lifting the flap and removing the new growth.


A general term for a layer of cells covering the external surfaces of the body. See corneal epithelium.


The act of breaking out, appearing or becoming visible, as eruption of the teeth. The tooth is said to erupt when the tooth breaks through the surface of the gums and can be seen in the mouth.


Redness of the skin usually due to infection, the normal healing process in new scars, or allergic/skin sensitivity reactions.


A compound formed by the combination of an organic acid with an alcohol. Converting an organic acid to its ester form is a process that is used in skin preparations. For example, converting Vitamin C acid to its ester form will enhance skin penetration of the vitamin, increase its stability and reduce the potential for skin irritation.


A qualified skin care specialist trained to administer beauty treatments for the skin.

Excimer Laser

An argon-fluoride laser that emits ultra-violet light at a wave length of 193 nm. This cool laser uses ultra-violet light to alter the front surface of the eye by breaking intramolecular bonds in collagen molecules during vision correction surgery.


The act of cutting away or taking out.


An agent that causes exfoliation, or shedding of dead skin cells. There are chemical exfoliants (see alpha hydroxy acid, beta hydroxy acid and polyhydroxy acid) and physical exfoliants (facial scrubs), they are lotions or creams containing small rough particles that are rubbed vigorously over the skin to remove the top layers of cells.


To cause dead skin cells to shed.

Face lift

Surgical procedure designed to tighten loose skin in both the face and neck.

Facial implant

Plastic surgery designed to change the shape of the chin, cheek or jaw. This procedure is typically done to enhance certain facial features, or to bring a certain aspect of the face into proportion with the rest of the facial structures.


The visible portion of a crown. It may be made of acrylic, composite or porcelain.


A refractive abnormality of the eye requiring a plus (positive or convex) lens for correction. Far or distance sighted people can see at a distance more clearly than they can see objects which are closer. The hyperopic eye is often described as being too flat or too short, as images are focused in back of the retina. The condition is corrected using a positive or convex lens. Also known as hyperopia, hypermetropia. See convex lens.


A thin sheet of fibrous tissue that envelopes the body beneath the skin and encloses muscles or groups of muscles. At the far end of muscles, fascia coalesces to become the outermost layers of tendons.


When referring to the skin only, fat is stored in cells and usually makes up the bulk of the subcutaneous layer. This is the only layer in which liposuction takes place. However, there are many locations for body fat that are not part of the skin, including fat around the intestines, fat in the eyesockets, fat inside bone, etc. Fat is a highly concentrated energy source. Some fat deposits are genetically determined.

Fat Grafting

A surgical procedure that involves taking fat from one area and inserting or injecting it in another area.

First Bicuspid

The teeth just behind the cuspids. Each bicuspid has two cusps or points. They are also known as premolars.


A bump or boil on the gum tissue, which is a tract, in which an abscessed tooth can drain. A path by which trapped bacteria can escape from an infected tooth.

Fixed bridge

Fixed dental appliance (used to replace a missing tooth/teeth) cemented or bonded to adjacent teeth, which have been prepared to provide anchor supports.

Flap & Zap

A slang term for LASIK.

Flap surgery

One type of surgery that involves transporting healthy, live tissue from one location of the body to another -- often to areas that have lost skin, fat, muscle movement, and/or skeletal support. There are several different types of flap surgery methods that may be utilized, depending upon the location of the flap and the structures that need to be repaired.


A tradename for a fluoromethalone acetate 0.1% solution. This corticosteroid eyedrop is used to reduce corneal haze and regulate healing response after a laser vision correction procedure.


A waxed or unwaxed piece of nylon thread that is used to remove food particles or plaque from the teeth. It is inserted between the teeth and moved in an up/down fashion to clean teeth.


A chemical compound used to prevent dental decay. It is found in fluoridated water systems and/or is applied directly to the teeth. If fluoride is not found in the water system, your dentist may recommend the addition of an orally taken fluoride to help strengthen the teeth as they are formed. Fluoride strengthens the surface of the teeth to prevent tooth decay.


A tradename for a fluoromethalone .1% solution. This corticosteroid eyedrop used to reduce corneal haze and regulate healing response after a laser vision correction procedure. Also available in a 0.25% solution and called FML FORTE®.

Focusing Power

The ability of the eye to focus light on the retina. About two thirds of the focusing power of the eye comes from the cornea, the rest comes from the lens inside the eye. As the light enters the eye it is focused a fixed amount by the cornea. As the light passes through the pupil the lens then adjusts the focus a variable amount. The exact amount of focusing power applied by the lens depends on the distance of the object being viewed. Laser vision correction adjusts the power of the eye by changing the focusing power of the cornea.


Inflammation of the hair follicle.

Forehead lift

The surgical removal of excess fat and skin, as well as a tightening of the muscles in the forehead area. This process can correct sagging brows or deep furrows between the eyes. It is often done in conjunction with a facelift or laser skin resurfacing in order to create a smoother facial appearance overall.

Free Radicals

Unstable molecules in our bodies that attack other molecules, setting up reactions that are damaging to healthy cells. Free radicals are created when oxygen molecules break down due to metabolism, radiation, exercise, ozone exposure, cancer causing substances (carcinogens) or other environmental toxins.


The removal of the frenum, a thin cord of tissue that attaches the upper or lower lips to the gum, or the tongue to the floor of the mouth.


Small pieces of skin that attach the lips, cheeks and tongue to the mouth, e.g., the piece of skin under the tongue that sticks out when the tongue is lifted, or the piece of skin that sticks out when lips are pulled away from the teeth.


A semisolid, transparent, colorless product that liquefies when it comes in contact with warm skin, or liquefies by friction when rubbed into the skin, and dries as a greaseless film. Gels are used in cosmetics or preparations when a water-washable, non-greasy base is desired.

General anesthesia

A state of unconsciousness produced by anesthetic agents, with absence of pain sensation over the entire body and a greater or lesser degree of muscular relaxation. The drugs producing this state can be administered by inhalation (through the lungs), intravenously (through the veins), intramuscularly (injected into the muscle), rectally or through the gastrointestinal tract (through the intestines).


A complication of refractive surgery involving a distortion of the visual image due to irregular healing of the corneal surface.


The soft tissue that covers the jaw bone and also surrounds the necks of the teeth. Also referred to as the gums.


The removal of the soft tissue surrounding the tooth. Typically used in treatment of periodontal disease and cosmetic dentistry.


The inflammation of the gum tissue. Gingivitis is a common and reversible gum disease caused by plaque and/or tarter build-up. May be increased by some medications as well.


A complication of refractive surgery in which the patient sees additional luster around lights. Glare is a subjective experience that often decreases with time.

Glare Testing

A method of measuring visual performance by determining visual acuity with a simulated back-lit target. If general visual acuity is significantly reduced on glare testing, it may be because of an irregular corneal surface, corneal scar, or cataract.


A common term for the eyeball.

Glycolic Acid

The simplest and smallest of the alpha hydroxy acids.

Graft (punch)

A full thickness graft, usually circular, for transplanting skin to another area.


The pink tissue around your teeth.


Enlargement of the male breast. It is most common around puberty & can be unilateral or bilateral. Most commonly the enlargement is centralized in the breast, but occasionally it is not.

Hair Restoration

A procedure using micrografts to replenish balding areas. See graft, micrograft.


Bad breath that can be caused by smoking, poor dental hygiene, alcoholism, throat infection, dental infection, sinus infection, lung infection, gum disease, an impacted tooth and a foreign body in the nose (children). Flossing, brushing, and regular dental visits, can reduce this problem.


A complication of refractive surgery in which the patient sees additional rings around lights at night. Halos are subjective experiences that often decrease with time.


A relatively rare complication of LASIK caused by the deposition of ground substance in the cornea. A slit lamp can be used to measure the haze response of a patient's eye. Haze results in decreased night vision, halos or loss of best corrected visual acuity.


A reddish-purple birthmark. Flat types are also known as port wine stains.


A swelling or mass of blood (usually clotted) confined to an organ or tissue. It is caused by a broken blood vessel.

High lipline

Where the widest smile meets the gum tissue above the teeth.

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