Cosmetic and reconstructive skin surgery is considered more and more as people are searching for the elusive fountain of youth. In fact the American Society of Plastic Surgeons estimated that over 11 billion dollars was spent in 2006 in different cosmetic and reconstructive surgery procedures.
Surgeons make the distinction between reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. The goals of reconstructive surgery are to generally improve function and sometimes appearance after treatment for a tumor, accident, trauma, birth defect or illness. The goals of cosmetic surgery do not involve function but rather aesthetics. Cosmetic surgery is performed to reshape normal structures of the body to improve the patient’s appearance and self-esteem.
The word ‘plastic’ is actually a derivative of the Greek word “plastikos” meaning to mould or shape. The term ‘plastic’ in plastic surgery actually has nothing to do with plastics but rather holds the Greek meaning of changing the shape of a particular body part.
Cosmetic and reconstructive skin surgery was first performed in Roman times. Their surgeons had the ability to perform procedures such as repairing damaged ears, or the removal of branding or scars. In ancient India doctors used skin graft techniques as early as 800 B.C.
However, due to the many dangers of surgery cosmetic and reconstructive skin surgery was rarely performed until around the 1900’s. Cosmetic surgery is usually an elective procedure that isn’t covered by today’s insurance companies. In some cases there are medical reasons for procedures, such as in the case of breast reduction, which is done for back pain relief.
There are lists and lists of potential cosmetic and reconstructive skin surgery. If you can dream it – it has probably been done. Do you want to round out your cheeks, chin or jaw then facial implants are for you. Brow lifts will help to deal with sagging forehead skin; a nose job will help correct breathing problems and reshape your nose; ear reshaping is excellent to correct protruding ears; a plump pucker is achieved with lip augmentation. Have another body part or facial problem? Then cosmetic and reconstruction skin surgery has found a way to make it better.
No amount of surgery can achieve perfection but modern treatments allow surgeons to achieve improvements in form and function, which was impossible even 10 years ago.
There are two basic types of sufferers who are seeking cosmetic and reconstructive skin surgery. Some have congenital deformities such as birthmarks, cleft lip or hand deformities. Others seeking reconstruction are a result of infection, accident or disease. Burns, lacerations, growths and aging problems are considered acquired deformities. For instance some adults with drooping eyelids have skin blocking their field of vision or an adult with an asymmetrical look secondary to paralysis may require a balancing facelift. Although appearance is enhanced, in the long run the main goal is to restore function.
All surgeries carry with them some degree of risk but when performed by a qualified plastic surgeon the complications are usually infrequent and minor. Because people vary in their ability to heal and pre-surgical general health the outcome of a cosmetic and reconstructive skin surgery is not completely predictable.
Complications can include infection, excessive bleeding or blood clots, bruising and problems with wound healing as well as difficulty with anesthesia. Factors that can increase the risk of complications are smoking, poor general health, increase weight, impaired immune system, connective tissue disease, decreased circulation or poor nutrition.
Cosmetic and reconstructive skin surgery is an option that is available to more people today than ever before. Don’t be nervous about investigating the possibilities.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons: Reconstructive Procedures
American Society of Plastic Surgeons: Breast reconstruction
Oregon Health And Science University: Plastic and reconstructive Surgery
Loyola University: Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
University of Utah: Skin Care Treatments
University of Chicago: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Services
LomaLinda University: Plastic Surgery
Johns Hopkins Medicinne: Skin Cancer