Q&A Ask the Expert: Jill Murphy, MD, PhD

Plastic Surgery: Is It for You?

A positive self-image can help people feel more confident in their work and relationships, and has even been linked to an improved quality of life. Board-certified plastic surgeon Jill Murphy, MD, PhD, of UPMC Altoona Plastic Surgery, answers questions often asked by patients considering a cosmetic or plastic surgery procedure.


Q. What kinds of procedures does a plastic surgeon do?

A. Plastic surgeons can perform both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Reconstructive surgery focuses on correcting a problem created by a birth defect, trauma, or a health problem like cancer. Examples include repair of a cleft palate, minimizing scars created in an accident, or reconstructing a breast due to cancer. Cosmetic or aesthetic surgery is targeted at improving a person’s appearance, such as nose reshaping, eyelid surgery, liposuction, and face-lifts.

Q. Do plastic and cosmetic surgeons undergo the same training?

A. No. Plastic surgeons must complete many additional years of residency and rigorous training after medical school to develop the complex skills needed to do both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Board certification through the American Board of Plastic Surgeons is open only to surgeons who complete that rigorous training and pass the required tests. Only surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons can call themselves plastic surgeons.

Q. Will I need to be hospitalized for a plastic or cosmetic surgery procedure?

A. The majority of plastic and cosmetic surgical procedures are done on an outpatient basis — and many use only sedation or a local anesthetic instead of general anesthesia. If a patient has an underlying medical condition or if a lengthy surgical procedure is involved, hospitalization may be needed.

Q. What kinds of procedures are covered by health insurance?

A. In general, reconstructive surgery is covered by most health insurance plans, although coverage for specific procedures and levels of coverage can vary. Cosmetic surgery is elective and typically not covered by insurance.

Q. Are breast surgeries covered by health insurance?

A. Many women who are considering breast reconstruction after breast cancer treatment are surprised to learn that it is considered reconstructive surgery and is typically covered under most health insurance policies. Women have the option of having this surgery in the hospital immediately after a mastectomy or later on an outpatient basis. Insurance also may cover other breast procedures such as breast reduction surgery for women with large breasts that contribute to back and neck pain, or women who get rashes beneath their breasts.

Meet Dr. Murphy

Dr. Jill Murphy joined UPMC Altoona Plastic Surgery in spring 2017. She earned her medical degree at the University of Nebraska Medical Center while also pursuing a doctoral degree in breast cancer genetics. She then completed a 6-year plastic surgery residency at the University of Kansas, where she gained broad research and clinical experience in both cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery.
Dr. Murphy specializes in a wide range of cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery procedures, including breast reduction and cosmetic breast surgery, breast reconstruction after mastectomy or lumpectomy, body contouring after massive weight loss, eyelid surgery, skin cancer excision, labiaplasty, Botox® for migraines and excessive sweating, scar revision, complex wound care and closure, non-surgical facial rejuvenation, and cosmetic procedures.
She and her husband, Cameron — a family practice doctor specializing in sports medicine, concussion treatment, and acute care with UPMC Altoona Elite Orthopaedics — enjoy spending time outdoors with their twin sons. Her other interests include astronomy and cooking.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Murphy, call UPMC Altoona Plastic Surgery at 814-946-1655. Or visit UPMCAltoona.com/PlasticSurgery
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