WHAT IS PLASTIC SURGERY? Posted in: Aesthetic Surgery

Plastic Surgery is a specialized branch of surgery concerned with the correction or restoration of form and function of skin, underlying soft tissues, muscles and bones for aesthetic purposes. These corrections may be necessitated as a result of inborn defects or injuries by accidents, diseases or tumors. While famous for aesthetic surgery, Plastic Surgery also includes many types of Reconstructive Surgery.

The first surgeons in the history of medicine were not doctors, but barbers in India. The practice in those ancient times was that criminals were punished with amputation of the nose. The need to reconstruct the amputated noses led to the development of a procedure in which skin from the forehead was used to create a flap to cover the raw surface of a nose.  This led to the birth of Plastic Surgery.

Some time later, an Italian family became famous for their great ability and creativity in reconstructing amputated parts of the body, and the fledgling profession began to blossom during the time of the Renaissance.

As the years passed by, wars served to advance new knowledge and techniques in surgery through the treatment of injuries sustained in battles. Reconstructive Surgery found its place within the scope of Medicine.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the era of the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery began, from a non-military perspective, with the aesthetic modeling of the nose. This was followed by the face and later on, the breast and the abdomen.

For the first time the name Plastic was used. The term was is derived from the Greek root Plastikós which means “to model”.

World War I and II led to the development of many of the techniques of modern Plastic Surgery as a result of providing care for soldiers suffering from disfiguring facial injuries.  Modern anesthesia was created and advances were made in both sterilization of instruments and blood transfusion techniques, setting the standard for the future. The use of antibiotics also began, leading to decreased infection rates. Together, all these things led to the rapid evolvement of surgery in the 20th century.

The two main branches of modern Plastic Surgery are Aesthetic and Reconstructive.  Among Plastic Surgeons, there are those who perform purely aesthetic work and those who are purely reconstructive. The surgeon’s branch of choice is dictated by personal preference and may be influenced by the curriculum of the hospital where they undertook their training.

Generally, Plastic Surgeons who work full-time in an institution tend to be more reconstructive-oriented, and those who work in the private sector tend to be more aesthetic. There seems to be a balance between the two subdivisions of Plastic Surgery in the average Mexican Plastic Surgeon. There are many who are as much Reconstructive as Aesthetic.

There are so many sub-specialties of the current practice of Plastic Surgery in the 21st century that it is rather difficult to find a single Plastic Surgeon that dedicates his practice to all of them.

Generally, Plastic Surgeons perform three or four areas as their routine activities. As there are already so many Plastic Surgeons in practice, what cannot be done by one, can surely be done by another.

The subspecialties of Plastic Surgery currently include:

  • Pediatric plastic surgery
  • Hand surgery
  • Cleft lip and palate surgery
  • Burn surgery
  • Cranio-facial surgery
  • Maxillofacial surgery
  • Transsexual surgery
  • Replant and transplant microsurgery
  • Tissue expanders surgery
  • Laser surgery
  • Aesthetic surgery
  • Hair transplant surgery
  • Endoscopic plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • Bariatric surgery (surgery after massive weight loss)
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