An easy way to remember would be that Reconstructive surgery restores the normal and cosmetic surgery improves on the normal.
World Plastic Surgery Day 2020: Unlike other super-specialities such as Cardiothoracic Surgery, Neurosurgery and Urology, Plastic Surgery has no adhesion to a specific organ system. Plastic surgeons operate in all areas of the body from head to toe. Although Plastic Surgeons operate on a wide range of conditions, two of the major areas are Aesthetic/ Cosmetic Surgery and Reconstructive Surgery. It is no secret, that to fully enjoy a good quality life, we should be healthy, a term which implies a state of complete physical mental and social well -being.
Today, we live in a digital world. The world is well connected and digitally, we can reach anywhere in seconds. With the increasing use of social media, even small imperfections, blemishes and signs of ageing are constantly under the microscope and are visible to our audience, which includes not only friends and family but also employers and others. In the realm of aesthetic medicine and surgery, we often come across individuals, who are concerned about imperfections such as a barely visible hump on the nose, a receding hairline, beginning of wrinkles at the forehead or around eyes, etc. Then there are others, who are completely unconcerned with a bald pate, a big tummy, or signs of ageing, etc. In the individuals who are concerned about their appearance, even a small imperfection engages their mind constantly, leading to preoccupation, worries, and distraction from their occupation. These can be corrected easily, thus restoring their health.
One of the common conditions, the plastic surgeons treat is the enlargement of male breast (gynecomastia). Young male suffering this is unable to wear tight-fitting shirts or T-shirts and is embarrassed to expose his chest in gyms, changing rooms and swimming pools. Also, imagine a young female with unusually heavy breasts or poor breast development, or a middle-aged female with sagging breasts. A person with hanging abdominal folds after multiple pregnancies or weight loss. All these people struggle to find compatible clothing, have pain due to hanging weight, difficulty in moving about or exercising, as well as multiple skin infections in folds. These conditions are easily treated by aesthetic plastic surgery, thus improving their quality of life.
Similarly, a young male, who has a lot of socializing ahead of him, but has a receding hairline, a person who aspires to be a model, actor or cabin crew, with a nasal hump or broad nose, or a receding chin spend a lot of time agonizing over their apparent issues and can readily be helped by plastic surgery.
As we age, the signs of ageing start showing up. These typically begin around the eyes, with under eye dark circles or hollows, followed by crow’s feet lines (smile lines) around the outer aspect of eyes, drooping of eyebrows, vertical and horizontal lines on the forehead, deepening of nasolabial folds, down-turning of angles of the mouth, extra skin at upper eyelids, bulge and extra skin at lower eyelids, decreased malar prominence, sagging of cheeks, double chin and neck folds. These are a source of extreme discomfort, especially for a social person, and can be addressed by a plastic surgeon.
A person with jaw cancer, whose jaw has been removed by one-surgeon, would be unable to move out of his residence if it was not reconstructed at the same time by plastic surgery. Similarly, a lady whose breast has been removed for cancer treatment would have to agonize every day over the appropriate choice of clothing, if it wasn’t reconstructed by a plastic surgeon. Accidents, assaults, burns are often responsible for damage or loss of features, leaving the patient with a restricted lifestyle. Most of these can often be treated by reconstructive plastic surgery. One of the commonest birth defects is a cleft lip, in which, the patient has a cleft in the upper lip extending to the nose. Patients with this and most other birth defects can be helped by plastic surgery, leading them to near-normal lifestyle.
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Plastic surgery is the adoption of sound surgical principles to remould and reshape tissue to suit the unique needs of the individual. It is best described as a speciality devoted to the restoration or creation of the best function of a part of the body with a superior aesthetic appearance. Plastic surgery is the only speciality that transgresses borders of age, system, region or organ of the body. Plastic surgeons emphasize the importance of treating the patient taking into consideration both the physical and emotional well-being of the patient.
Nature’s designs are perfect, form and function go hand in hand. Form follows function. Plastic surgery is based on the philosophy and practice of repair, functionality and overall results after surgery, not just aesthetics. Plastic surgery falls into two broad categories. Reconstructive surgery and Aesthetic Surgery. An easy way to remember would be that Reconstructive surgery restores the normal and cosmetic surgery improves on the normal.
Reconstructive surgery has a wide repertoire, from birth defects (like cleft lip) to post-injury restoration, to the post-cancer reconstruction of the excised part or resurfacing the body after Burns. These are further subdivided into speciality divisions - craniofacial surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery, and the treatment of burns.
(With inputs from Dr Richie Gupta, Senior Consultant & Director, Dept of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh)
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