What is plastic surgery?
It’s a common misunderstanding that the word plastic in plastic surgery means artificial. The word comes from the ancient Greek word plastikos, which means to mold or give form. Plastic surgery is a surgical specialty involved with both the improvement in a person’s appearance and the reconstruction of facial and body tissue defects caused by illness, trauma, or birth disorders.
Plastic surgery restores and improves function, as well as appearance. It can involve surgery on any part of the anatomy, except the central nervous system, including:
Skin, including skin cancer, scars, burns, birthmarks, and tattoo removal
Maxillofacial (the facial skeleton)
Congenital anomalies, including deformed ears, cleft palate, and cleft lip
What does plastic surgery include?
Plastic surgery includes both reconstructive and aesthetic (cosmetic) procedures:
Reconstructive plastic surgery
In general, reconstructive surgery is done on abnormal structures of the body that may be caused by:
Congenital (present at birth) anomalies
This type of surgery is usually done to improve function, but may also be done to change appearance.
Cosmetic (aesthetic) plastic surgery
Cosmetic surgery is done to repair or reshape otherwise normal structures of the body, generally, to improve appearance.
- Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN
- David Lickstein MD
- Ronald Karlin MD