Plastic surgery is a kind of surgery that helps fix defects ( either birth defect or acquired defects anywhere in the body from hair to the toes. Plastic surgery is chiefly aimed at correcting the problem areas of your body and reconstructing certain areas. The basis of a Plastic surgery is actually a specialized branch of surgery, which besides repairing the deformities also correct the functional deficits.
Many people are clueless about the real difference between cosmetic(aesthetic) and plastic surgery. The simplest way of describing Plastic surgery is that it encompasses both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery and especially surgeries that treat burns and trauma related injuries of the hands, the head and the face.
Microsurgery is a special type of plastic surgery. Plastic is derived from the Greek word “Plastikos”, which means “to mold.” At the time of plastic surgery, the face and body are “molded” as desired, by a skilled surgeon.
Plastic surgery can be further segmented into the cosmetic surgery. Sometimes the difference between the two areas gets blurred. For example, if a patient has a tumor in the head and neck or breast region, there is a both cosmetic and functional side to it.
Plastic Surgery or Reconstructive Surgery?
Reconstructive surgery is a type of plastic surgery that’s used to rectify and restore the functioning of an area or body part that isn’t functioning, as it should, as discussed earlier. This abnormality of the area can be because of a number of reasons, namely, an accident, mastectomy, trauma or any other type of surgery specifically used to correct diseased parts of the body.
Reconstructive surgery is extremely beneficial to correct birth defects as well. Plastic surgery, because it is used to correct a body part and restore the proper function, is done more for medical reason than to enhance the look. This is for the same reason that it is covered by medical insurance.
Sometimes both cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries can blend with each other in such a way that they cannot be distinguished. This can be seen in breast reconstruction after mastectomy. Though the procedure is considered medically important, it has an aesthetic component. Plastic surgeons seek to make the new breast match the other one and make it as natural looking as possible.
Examples of plastic surgery procedures include,
- Breast Reconstruction- Especially for patients who have had cancer and had one or two of their breasts removed.
- Congenital defect repair like cleft palate, defect repair- Remove such defects to improve the appearance.
- Burn surgeries-This helps repair and reconstruct the affected skin.
- Hand Surgery-Hand surgery helps treat diseases that cause pain and impair strength, functioning, and flexibility of the wrist and fingers.
- Scar Revision Surgery-It minimizes the scar so that it remains consistent with the surrounding area.
Difference between a Plastic Surgeon and a Cosmetic Surgeon
When it comes to the training of a plastic surgeon, it is more difficult and rigorous than the training for a cosmetic surgeon. A plastic surgeon should have a three-year training in General Surgery and then follow it up by three years of training in plastic surgery. Why we call it rigorous is because it can take as long as eight years for a fully certified plastic surgeon to round off his/her comprehensive training.
A cosmetic surgeon can be regarded as a plastic surgeon who is trained in other cosmetic procedures such as liposuction, or breast surgeries like augmentation or other procedures.
A plastic surgeon is regarded as a board certified only when she or he completes the 3 year training program with the ultimate award of the MCh Degree in India. One important point, which should have your attention, is that a plastic surgery training program will include cosmetic surgery, but it is only as one part of the surgeon’s training.
This also means that board certified plastic surgeon may not necessarily have the experience or expertise in every kind of cosmetic procedure.
A study made on both plastic and cosmetic surgery revealed that most people think cosmetic surgeons do not require as much specialized training compared to plastic surgeons, and that cosmetic surgery procedure is not as risky.
Cosmetic surgery patients also recover quickly and procedure wise, it is much simpler. As more and more people are opting for the both plastic and cosmetic surgeries, the outlook is gradually changing, but now people should be aware of the differences between the two disciplines. Inadequate information and unreasonable notions can result in unrealistic expectations, which involve not only information on the recovery period and results, but also about the risks involved.
The much bandied about terms cosmetic and plastic surgery are often interchangeably used by laymen. This gives rise to unending confusion among patients as they are two different entities and must be treated likewise.
Although it is true that the two disciplines are interdependent on each other, they are certainly not the same. As a patient or potential patient, it is really important for you to be aware of the main differences between the two segments of surgery.