There is a lot of confusion about plastic surgery. People are often confused about what plastic surgeon does and often have a poor concept of reconstructive plastic surgery. According to Dr Adhishwar Sharma – Senior Consultant, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram – some people often confuse them for skin specialists.
“In fact, reconstructive plastic surgery deals with not only the skin but also the reconstruction of bone, nerve, muscle, and blood vessels. Non-union of long bones is often dealt with vascularized bone grafting. Facial bone fractures are fixed by plastic surgeons. After head and neck cancer resection bone and soft tissue flap are used for reconstruction. Congenital birth defects are also dealt by plastic surgeons,” Dr Sharma said.
The same story is for other body parts, plastic surgery deals with problems arising from congenital, burns, trauma, and post-cancer reconstruction. It has many tools such as grafts of skin, bone, nerve, and blood vessels. At times flaps of skin, bone, muscle, and nerve are used for reconstruction. People coming for reconstructive surgery are real patients who have real-world problems due to some disease. Plastic surgery has many sub-specialties, craniofacial surgery, hand surgery, microvascular surgery, burns, brachial plexus and peripheral nerve surgery, and cosmetic surgery.
Sharma said that cosmetic surgery is a different ball game and it has evolved from reconstructive plastic surgery. “But it is a different sub-specialty. A person seeking cosmetic surgery is often a normal person but seeks to enhance his or her appearance. These patients are not patients in the strict sense and are more like a client. The relation of a cosmetic surgeon with his patient is more of a service provider,” the doctor said.
Commonly done cosmetic surgery procedures are liposuction, abdominoplasty, facelift, rhinoplasty, fat grafting, and blepharoplasty. Apart from this procedure, there are so many other procedures that are used to enhance a person’s appearance.
“Basically, a reconstructive surgeon deals with various body deformities and tissue loss due to various causes and reconstructs them whereas a cosmetic surgeon alters existing body structures to enhance the aesthetic appearance of the person,” he added.
Reconstructive plastic surgery is a different ball game compared to cosmetic surgery. As time evolve these two sub-specialties of plastic surgery are emerging as two distinct branches although both surgeons possess the same educational qualification. Patients must make this distinction before choosing their surgeon so that they are not disappointed in the long run.