Overview of Plastic Surgery
What is plastic surgery?
It is a common misunderstanding that the word plastic in plastic surgery means artificial.
Rather, the word originated 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 due to 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,
but not limited to, the following:
Skin (including skin cancer, scars, burns, birthmarks, and tattoo removal)
Maxillofacial (the facial skeleton)
Congenital anomalies (including deformed ears, cleft palate, and cleft lip)
Doctors who perform plastic surgery
It is important to select a doctor who is certified in plastic surgery by the American
Board of Plastic Surgery. Generally, a surgeon who is board-certified in plastic surgery
has graduated from an accredited medical school and has completed at least 5 years
of graduate medical education--usually 3 years of general surgery and 2 years of plastic
surgery. In addition, the surgeon must practice plastic surgery for 2 years and pass
comprehensive written and oral exams to become board-certified. Board certification
is renewed every 10 years to ensure ongoing competency in the specialty.
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 the following:
This type of surgery is usually done to improve function, but may also be done to
Cosmetic (aesthetic) plastic surgery. Cosmetic surgery is done to repair or reshape otherwise normal structures of the body,
generally, to improve appearance.