From managing burns and skin cancer to fixing abnormalities, there's more to plastic surgery than tummy tucks

On National Plastic Surgery Day 2020, let us look at some of the lesser known aspects of the surgical specialty that don’t get discussed in popular culture

Myupchar July 14, 2020 21:51:39 IST
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From managing burns and skin cancer to fixing abnormalities, there's more to plastic surgery than tummy tucks

National Plastic Surgery Day is observed on 15 July every year. There are many aspects of plastic surgery that don’t get discussed in popular culture and may not even be known by many.

So what exactly is plastic surgery? 

Plastic and reconstructive surgery is done to restore any facial or body abnormalities. Largely speaking, plastic surgery has two components: one is reconstructive surgery and the other is aesthetic or cosmetic surgery. The main aim of reconstructive surgery is to improve the function of the body. At other times, plastic surgery could be done to improve the self-esteem of an individual by creating an appearance which they may believe to be more “normal”- this is commonly called cosmetic surgery.

When one talks about plastic surgery, one tends to think it only includes procedures like abdominoplasty (also known as a tummy tuck) and breast implants or breast augmentation which is the reconstruction of the breast with a silicone implant. While those are important procedures as well, they don’t give a full picture of how plastic surgeries can change people’s lives. Reconstructive surgery is also done to correct any abnormalities in the body that could be a result of any of the following:

  • Injury
  • Infection
  • Disease
  • Tumours
  • Birth defects
  • Developmental abnormalities

A plastic surgeon covers all aspects of wound healing during the procedure of the surgery. They also reconstruct congenital, acquired and traumatic problems.

What are the sub-specialities of plastic surgery?

  • Congenital: This includes treatment for conditions like cleft lip and other facial deformities
  • Breast surgery: This includes reconstruction of the breast following cancer and cosmetic breast surgery
  • Skin: This includes reconstruction that may be required during the management of skin cancer.
  • Trauma: This includes reconstructive repair of facial trauma which includes burn injuries and fractures.
  • Hand and upper limb surgery: This area deals with specialist treatment for a body area which is vital for quality functioning of life. This includes repair of injuries to hands and arms.
  • Aesthetic surgery: This is more commonly called cosmetic surgery and includes changing of appearance by choice and not due to any injury, accident or birth deformity.

There are many techniques that plastic surgeons use to carry out surgeries. One such technique is skin grafting, which means that they take a healthy patch of skin from one area of the body and use it to cover another area where the skin may be damaged. Tissue expansion is a procedure that helps the body to grow extra skin near a damaged or scarred area. Once the tissue is expanded enough, this skin is used to replace the skin on the damage site. Flap surgery involves the transfer of living tissue from one body part to another along with the blood vessels (unlike graft surgery that only involves skin) that help in keeping it alive. Lastly, microsurgery is the process of using magnification to join very small arteries, veins and nerves to restore vital blood supply to living tissue.

Therefore, most of the work of the plastic surgeon includes understanding blood supply of tissues and wound healing along with management of scars - which goes far beyond what the common perception of plastic surgery.

This article was written by Dr Anil Behl, Director, Cosmetic, Reconstructive and Plastic Surgery, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.

For more information, read our article on Abdominoplasty.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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