Why is it Called Plastic Surgery?

Posted by administration on April 17, 2017

Many people are confused by the term plastic surgery which is often used interchangeably with the term cosmetic surgery or reconstructive surgery. Plastic surgery is a broad surgery specialty that requires a minimum 5-year residency program after finishing medical school. Plastic surgery can be divided into the categories of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, each of these having their own subspecialties. The word plastic comes from the Greek word ‘plastikos’ which means ‘to mold’ because general plastic surgery involves moving and manipulating tissue to suit a specific purpose.  

Cosmetic_Surgery.jpgThe first descriptions of plastic surgery date back as early as the 6th century. One example is a forehead flap for nasal reconstruction which was primarily used at the time to restore the appearance of people who had their noses cut off as punishment for various crimes. This procedure involved taking skin from the forehead and elevating it off of the underlying muscle and skull and rotating it down to reconstruct the nose. Although this form of punishment is no longer in practice, this flap technique is still commonly used for people who have lost part or all of their nose as a result of cancer or trauma.

Modern plastic surgery began as a solution to devastating physical injuries in the first world war. The massive trauma that had not been experienced in previous conflicts required innovative solutions to repair them. Techniques such as skin grafts (the movement of tissue from one location to another while maintaining its original blood supply) were pioneered during this time. These techniques were further refined during World War II when once again surgeons were inundated with soldiers suffering from devastating injuries.

Once surgeons realized they could manipulate tissues to reconstruct devastating injures and restore a "normal" appearance, attention turned to manipulating tissue to take a "normal" appearing person and improve upon this to achieve a more "perfect" appearance, giving birth to cosmetic surgery. Early cosmetic procedures were very expensive and secretive and usually reserved for the ultra-rich and Hollywood stars. Today, cosmetic plastic surgery is available to a broad range of people who want to improve their looks for various reasons.

Plastic surgery has come a long way. Whether focusing on reconstructive procedures such as cleft palate repair or rebuilding breasts after breast cancer, or cosmetic surgery such as breast enlargement or a nose job, they fall under the main umbrella of plastic surgery, with the goal of restoration, reconstruction or alteration of the body.

If you are interested in plastic surgery in Denver, contact Advanced Cosmetic Surgery Center at 303-367-9000 or serotamd.com to learn about the various procedures available.  

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