Plastic surgery is a medical specialty concerned with the correction or restoration of form and function. Though cosmetic or aesthetic surgery is the best-known kind of plastic surgery, most plastic surgery is not cosmetic: plastic surgery includes many types of reconstructive surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery, and the treatment of burns.
Each year plastic and reconstructive surgeons improve the lives of millions of patients with congenital malformations (such as cleft lip and cleft palate), disfiguring wounds, animal bites, and profound burn injuries, as well as those requiring reconstruction after surgery for malignancy or other chronic conditions. This column will not focus on these forms of plastic surgery, but rather on cosmetic surgery, or elective procedures to enhance those not encumbered by such disfiguring conditions.
The Byzantine physician Oribasius was also an important historical figure when it comes to the evolution of plastic surgery. In the fourth century Oribasius wrote at length about different reconstructive procedures in his medical encyclopedia called Synagogue Medicae. In his writing Oribasius demonstrated his insight into important techniques such as using flaps to avoid the distortion of facial features and the process of creating tensionless suture lines. Oribasius's work in wound management and facial reconstruction remains an important contribution to the plastic surgery.
Despite its rocky historical past, plastic surgery is a growing multi-billion industry. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the demand for plastic surgery services has only decreased by two percent in the past year. Of all plastic surgeries, breast augmentation and liposuction are the most common, with women usually accounting for 91 percent of the patients.
From 1968-1970, Dr. John E. “Jack” Hoopes served as chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. After Hoopes went on to distinguished service as chairman of Plastic Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Paul M. Weeks began his tenure as division chief. In addition to his personal achievements as a leader in hand trauma and tendon repair, Weeks did much to promote plastic surgery residency training at Washington University and nationwide. He laid the groundwork for development of a truly integrated plastic surgery residency — a model that is used in many integrated programs today.
War played a huge role in the history of plastic surgery. World War I presented physicians with scores of severe facial wounds and burns, changing the history of plastic surgery. Modern weapons caused types and severity of injuries that were unprecedented in the history of plastic surgery. Some of the greatest medical talent devoted themselves fully both to exploring the history of plastic surgery and creating new techniques to treat men maimed by the war. Aesthetic surgery took its place in the history of plastic surgery at around this time, as surgeons fully realized the influence of appearances on individual success.
Aesthetic surgical procedures also developed during this period as physicians realized, in the words of 19th Century American plastic surgeon John Orlando Roe, "how much valuable talent (had) been...buried from human eyes, lost to the world and society by reason of embarrassment...caused by the conscious, or in some cases, unconscious influence of some physical infirmity or deformity or unsightly blemish."
Plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery treatments require educated decision-making. You need to know who are the best candidates for each plastic surgery procedure, the recovery time, appropriate expectations and how to best select a plastic surgeon.
Just because the name includes the word "plastic" doesn't mean patients who have this surgery end up with a face full of fake stuff. The name isn't taken from the synthetic substance but from the Greek word plastikos, which means to form or mold (and which gives the material plastic its name as well).
Plastic surgery is a special type of surgery that can involve both a person's appearance and ability to function. Plastic surgeons strive to improve patients' appearance and self-image through both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures.
The 21st century has witnessed a large portion of the society seeking solutions to combat the effect and the damage caused by a number of factors which includes overexposure to the sun, poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, and the damaging effects of polluted environment. The advance in technology and minimally invasive surgical techniques and procedures has made cosmetic surgery increasingly attractive to a wide range of demographics.
This trend among the population seems to be reflecting a desire to curb the effects of aging, unhealthy lifestyle etc. It is also noted that individuals of age group 25 to 35 years old are also engaging in the minimally invasive cosmetic procedures such as Botox and laser skin resurfacing as well as dermabrasion. Statistics also show that men are among the growing number of individuals seeking cosmetic and plastic surgery, especially with minimally invasive treatments. It was found that liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the UK according to a recent survey by Opera North.
Cosmetic plastic surgery includes surgical and nonsurgical procedures that reshape normal structures of the body in order to improve appearance and self-esteem. Healthy individuals with a positive outlook and realistic expectations are appropriate candidates for cosmetic procedures. Plastic surgery is a personal choice and should be done for yourself, not to fulfill someone else's desires or to try to fit an ideal image. Because it is elective, cosmetic surgery is usually not covered by health insurance.