Do You Know the Real Definitions Behind Commonly Used Cosmetic Terms?

If you speak to a dermatologist often or regularly consult a plastic surgeon in Houston that you may already understand basic terminology such as your skin color type (Grade I-VI) and whether you have oily, dry, or combination skin.  For every term you already understand, there are probably two that you do not.  Recently, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery created a set of standard definitions which patients often see or hear every time they go in for a treatment.  Here’s a closer look at some of the most commonly used cosmetic terms.


If there is one term that everyone cares about, it is downtime.  Downtime is the expected time after a treatment you can resume your daily activities without any side effects.  This term has become increasingly popular with the advent of lunch hour procedures.  These are procedures which promise zero downtime so that you can have them performed over lunch and return to work without worry.

  • No Downtime – Less than 24 Hours
  • Minimal Downtime – 24-72 Hours
  • Moderate Downtime – 3-7 Days
  • Significant Downtime – More than 1 Week


When the term redness is discussed, it is technically defined as any redness which is visible without the use of a concealer like skinceuticals.  In many cases, you will still have the ability to cover up any redness with makeup as long as it is light enough.  The definition of redness has nothing to do with the shade or darkness of the red, but rather how long the redness lasts.

The scale for redness is the exact same as the scale for downtime.


Another term which is often difficult to describe is the amount of pain for treatments.  Since everyone has their own level of skin sensitivity and pain tolerance, it can be difficult to accurately describe the discomfort for any particular treatment.  In order to clearly define how much pain to expect, this terminology uses to describe the need for medication and anesthesia rather than how the treatment actually feels.

  • No Pain – You may still require over-the-counter pain medication, although there is no standard pretreatment medication, anesthesia, or post treatment pain management required.
  • Minimal Pain – If a procedure is said to have minimal pain then you will likely be required to take some form of oral medication before the procedure as well as use some type of topical agent/skin cooling/post treatment pain medication.
  • Moderate Pain – A moderate level of pain indicates that you will require the same treatments as with minimal pain; however there is also the addition of local anesthesia.
  • Significant Pain – A significant level of pain indicates you require the same treatment as moderate pain; however a general anesthesia or IV sedative is also required.

Other Terms You May Be Interested In


Like redness, it is not about how bruised your skin appears, but rather how long the bruise is visible without concealer.

  • Essentially None – Any change in skin tone, even if only lasts a few hours.
  • Minimal – Less than 1 week
  • Moderate – 1-2 weeks
  • Significant – Longer than 2 weeks


This includes any type of “noticeable” swelling.  Keep in mind there is a level of swelling which is not visibly noticeable, but you still may be able to feel it.

  • Essentially None – Less than 3 days
  • Minimal – 3-7 days
  • Moderate – 1-2 weeks
  • Significant – More than 2 weeks

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