Plastic surgery is more than cosmetic

The popular conception of plastic surgery is that it’s all about improving beauty. A tummy tuck here, an eye lift there, and you’ll look younger and sexier. But there is another side to plastic surgery that is vital for improving wellbeing. It can even save people’s lives. This is non-cosmetic plastic surgery.

If you want to get technical about it, cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are actually two different disciplines. The former is all about improving the beauty of the body, but the latter is about removing defects that keep someone from a normal body and appearance. To make it even more confusing, some plastic surgeons call themselves “reconstructive surgeons” to emphasize that they don’t do cosmetic procedures.

What sort of non-cosmetic procedures use plastic surgery?

Breast reconstruction is one, especially after a mastectomy (breast removal) after cancer. This is a much more involved procedure than an implant. Speaking of cancers, plastic surgery is also used to repair skin after large tumors are removed, especially on the face. Plastic surgeons are also called in to remove other cancerous skin tumors.

Another area of interest is face and jaw reconstruction. This can be due to an injury, or it can be due to birth defects such as a cleft lip or cleft palate. If you’ve ever had oral surgery to remove wisdom teeth, this can be seen as a sub-discipline of plastic surgery. Otoplasty, or surgery to the ear, is another specialization. There are birth defects that can cause partial or no development of the external ear, or ears can be removed due to traumatic injury. Otoplastic surgeons can repair these problems.

Any injury that involves a large wound may need the help of plastic surgery so the wound will close properly and with a good appearance afterward. One procedure that can cross over between cosmetic and non-cosmetic plastic surgery is scar revision. Sometimes people want scars removed to look good, but in a large injury a scar can prevent normal function.

Nowhere is this more evident than after a burn. When severe burns heal they often leave major scarring afterward. Plus, large burns over the body are life-threatening due to infection. Procedures such as skin grafts are done by plastic surgeons to cover as much of the burn as they can with healthy skin to speed healing and reduce scarring.

Plastic surgeons can also specialize in operations on the hand and foot. The complex mechanics of these parts requires the delicate care of a plastic surgeon to fix the problem and prevent further ones from happening.

Despite the difference in intensity, the desired outcome between the two disciplines is the same.

The goal is to improve the physical and emotional health of the patient. Also, the two disciplines are not at odds with one another, though the certification procedures for each are different. Reconstructive surgeons often undergo more training and end up learning cosmetic surgery on the side as an additional service. However, a surgeon who specializes in cosmetic surgery may have much more experience in cosmetic procedures.

If you are considering plastic surgery for any purpose, speak with a surgeon about your options. Ask them about their prior history with repairing your issue. Get them to explain the procedure to you so you can feel comfortable about it before undergoing surgery. If you do this, you can choose a surgeon with confidence.