How often do you hear about “no recovery” or “lunchtime” treatments when reading about plastic surgery in the media?  Companies are trying to provide what the public wants: quick, low-risk, low- or no-recovery aesthetic treatments.  But when these so call “no-recovery”  treatments fall short of these goals, the word doesn’t always get out there.  Many treatments billed as low- or no-recovery are anything but. Often, to get a substantial result these treatment modalities require a more aggressive version of the treatment with more recovery.  Recently,  the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS for short), the premier scientific society of board certified plastic surgeons who have focused their practice on aesthetic surgery, has released a set of standardized definitions that give new meaning to this nomenclature.

The Energy Based Therapies Committee of ASAPS, on which Dr. Bass serves, has issued guidelines for terms that are commonly used to describe the results and recovery associated with a variety of laser and other energy based aesthetic treatments.  The impetus for doing this was the frequent use of terms like “no-recovery” and “lunch time treatment” for treatments that, as typically performed, have significant recovery.  In order to have some common ground for what terms mean, the committee has provided guidelines for use. 

The following terms were defined:  downtime, bruising, redness, swelling and pain.  See the reproduced standards below and the links to learn more specifics.  The committee hopes to have device companies follow the guidelines in the marketing information they provide to doctors, as well as in the materials companies provide to the media (TV, magazines) about their products  and to patients on their websites. 

While the guidelines are not perfect, they are a very useful practical guide to providing patients and doctors with a clear understanding of typical recovery issues associated with each treatment.  Hopefully, the scientific societies for other aesthetic providers, such as dermatologists, will join in encouraging adoption of these guidelines in the future.  For now, ASAPS is leading the way to provide clarity and reality rather than market hype.  Notice that even the lowest or essentially none category still can have some minor visible changes over the first day.  This means that if your work or social obligations require you to look undetectable or perfect immediately after the treatment you may prefer to schedule it when  you have the rest of the day or weekend to recover, or plan to apply concealer to hide the transient changes.

Allure article about the guidelines:



Downtime –the expected time to return to normal lifestyle

               Essentially None: less than 24 hours

               Minimal: 24-72 hours

               Moderate: 3-7 days

               Significant: more than 7 days


Bruising – visible on the skin without concealer

               Essentially None: no bruising but there may be an immediate change in skin tone

               Minimal: less than one week

               Moderate: 1-2 weeks

               Significant: more than 2 weeks


Redness –visible without concealer

               Essentially None: returns to normal (pretreatment or improved) in less than 24 hours

               Minimal: 1-3 days

               Moderate: 4-7 days

               Significant: more than 7 days


Swelling –obvious swelling

               Essentially None: less than 3 days

               Minimal: 3-7 days

               Moderate: 8-14 days

               Significant: > 14 days


Pain –significant discomfort associated with the treatment

               Essentially None: no anesthesia or medication is needed except over the counter medication

               Minimal: requires pretreatment with oral prescription medication, topical anesthetic agents or skin cooling and/or post-treatment prescriptions for pain management.

               Moderate: same as minimal but with local anesthesia (injections)

               Significant: same as minimal but with IV sedation or general anesthesia

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