What is PLASTIC Surgery, Anyway?
Article by Karen M. Horton, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
What is “Plastic Surgery”?
The word “plastic” derives from the Greek word “Plastikos”, which means "to mold or change form".
There is actually no connection with modern-day plastic, a synthetic polymer that is moldable when heated. And despite many misconceptions, Plastic Surgery does NOT involve using plastic in the body!
The first known Plastic Surgical procedure, reconstruction of the nose, was documented in 18th Century B.C. A man's nose was literally cut off "to spite his face" for punishment, and it was reconstructed using a flap of skin from his arm.
See the image with the contraption used to keep the arm attached to the face for approximately three months!
Plastic surgery involves both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. Common reconstructive procedures include breast reconstruction after cancer, burn surgery, cleft lip and palate surgery, hand surgery, pressure sore reconstruction, facial fracture correction, skin cancer surgery, and the list goes on...
What is Cosmetic Surgery?
“Cosmetic surgery” is plastic surgery designed to improve the appearance of the body or counteract the effect of aging.
Cosmetic surgery can often improve body image, self-esteem and help to restore a more youthful appearance to the face, breasts and body.
Most of us are familiar with cosmetic surgery in the media - movie stars, celebrities, reality TV shows...
Cosmetic surgery is enticing in that it can dramatically change the appearance of the body, usually for the better, but sometimes for worse. We are all familiar with individuals in the press who have had TOO much cosmetic surgery!
Examples of common cosmetic procedures include facial rejuvenation (facelift, necklift, eyelid lift/blepharoplasty, rhinoplasty), breast surgery (reduction, lift or augmentation) and rejuvenation of the body (tummy tucks, liposuction).
There are also non-invasive cosmetic procedures such as Botox, fillers, lasers that are often an alternative to invasive surgeries.
Future blog posts will feature details on each of the major Plastic Surgery procedures - who are good candidates for surgery, details of procedures, what to expect during recovery, downtime, risks, and representative before and after photos.