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Plastic Surgery

What Is Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery is a medical specialty focusing on the enhancement of the body through surgical procedures. Its mission is to correct and restore the form and function of targeted areas. Although cosmetic or aesthetic surgery is the best-known type of plastic surgery, most plastic surgery procedures are not cosmetic and include a wide range of reconstructive surgery procedures, hand surgery, burn surgery and other sub-specialties.

With more and more men and women seeking to enhance their body, plastic surgery seems to be the easiest way to erase years off one’s appearance. Self-esteem is linked to body image and many patient satisfaction studies regarding the quality of life after a procedure have shown that people enjoy improvements in their body image and their position in society after surgery. Like any other surgery, plastic surgery has risks and limitations, and while it is not a viable option for everyone, it has a great positive effect on most people who undergo plastic surgery procedures.

Types of Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery includes both surgical and nonsurgical procedures, with a common goal of reshaping normal structures of the body. Before proceeding with plastic surgery, people should consider their expectations, the expenses and surgery risks, the recovery time and psychological changes. While cosmetic surgery greatly improves self-esteem, it is likely to relieve depression or other mental conditions developed pre-surgery.

Plastic surgery includes reconstructive surgery, cosmetic surgery, and various sub-specialties.

Reconstructive Surgery

Reconstructive surgery is performed on patients with abnormal structures of the body caused by various factors such as:

  • trauma
  • tumors
  • disease
  • developmental abnormalities
  • congenital defects

Apart from being generally performed to improve functions, reconstructive surgery may also be done to approximate a normal appearance. Specific procedures for this type of surgery include: breast reconstruction, tissue expansion, scar revision, cleft lip, cleft palate repair, breast reduction and hand surgery.

Cosmetic Surgery

An optional procedure, cosmetic surgery is performed on normal parts of the body when there is a need to improve a person’s appearance. Plastic surgery is a personal choice and if you decide to pursue cosmetic surgery, you will need to choose a surgeon who specializes in the procedure you would like to have done and who is certified in the specialty by a board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

The most prevalent cosmetic procedures include:

  • abdominoplasty or tummy tuck
  • blepharoplasty or eyelid surgery
  • mammoplasty
  • buttock augmentation
  • chemical peel
  • lip enhancement
  • rhinoplasty
  • face lift
  • cheek augmentation
  • liposuction

Plastic surgery is nevertheless a broad field and many sub-specialties have emerged as to satisfy the medical needs of people seeking to improve their physical appearance considering their background and conditions they suffer from. Thus, aesthetic surgery, burn surgery, craniofacial surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery and pediatric plastic surgery were developed for providing specialized treatments.

Top 5 Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Procedures

A 2012 plastic surgery statistics report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons shows that people choosing cosmetic surgical procedures have had a special interest in breast augmentation, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), facelift, liposuction and nose reshaping (rhinoplasty). The number one cosmetic minimally-invasive procedure in 2012 was Botulinum toxin type A (Botox®, Dysport®), followed by chemical peels, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion and soft tissue fillers. As a society, people place a great deal of importance upon their physical appearance, constantly looking to improve and correct the perceived flaws they believe affects their image.

Plastic surgery should not be seen as a viable solution only for the physically deformed, but also for those who wish to overcome their concerns regarding a part or parts of their body that they are unhappy with. No matter what pushes people towards plastic surgery, the ultimate goal is achieving a body appearance that makes them confident and happier with their lives.

Benefits of Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery can transform your body in ways that no other options or procedures can match, and depending upon the type of procedure you are considering to get, there is a distinct possibility that plastic surgery is the only viable option, which will help you achieve the results you are looking for. Before you decide to get plastic surgery, you will need to take into consideration the advantages, disadvantages and risks associated with it.

Like any other type of surgery, there are risks associated with general anesthesia and possible infection after the procedure, or you may just not be happy with the results. Although plastic surgery is not for everyone, it does have an extremely positive effect in a variety of ways.

Physical Benefits

Plastic surgery is the only way people with physical deformities can achieve a better life, in both physical and psychological ways. Mastectomy patients, people with scars or children born with a cleft lip are just a few of the right candidates for plastic surgery procedures. Not only people with physical deformities have observed the advantages it brings – for example, people who have had weight loss procedures such as liposuction or gastric bypass have been more inclined to participate in fitness-related activities after their surgery.

When women choose plastic surgery to have their breasts reduced, plastic surgery helps by relieving neck and back pain, which are characteristic to having large breasts. Scars, disfigurements or the lack of symmetry if the case, can be corrected using modern day techniques and equipment that guarantees the best results, making physical flaws disappear completely or be hardly noticeable.  

Psychological Benefits

People who underwent plastic surgery have reported an immediate psychological boost along with an increased overall body image. An increased desire of participating in social activities will develop after the surgery, as people become more confident with their appearance. Women feel more sexually confident and empowered following breast augmentation or breast lift, and some have reported a higher sexual desire.

Many people feel excluded or ostracized and refuse to participate in an active lifestyle. Scars and other disfigurements are likely to cause feelings of depression and isolation, but with the help of plastic surgery, people will gain a sense of self when they feel they are acceptable by societal standards.

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This page was last updated on 08/04/2014 12:13 PM PST by Dr. James J. Chao at Oasis MD
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