What Is Plastic Surgery & What Does a Plastic Surgeon Do

Plastic surgery is a specialized branch of medicine dealing with reconstructing, restoring or altering the human body. It involves surgical procedures that aim to improve a person's appearance, self-esteem and overall quality of life.

While physical appearance doesn't define our worth, it is essential for many people to feel confident and comfortable in their own skin. Plastic surgery offers a way to address physical defects or insecurities affecting one's self-image. In addition, it can also help individuals who have suffered from accidents, injuries or medical conditions that have left them with physical impairments.

Types of Plastic Surgery

Reconstructive Surgery

This type of surgery is usually performed to correct functional impairments caused by:

  • Burns
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Birth disorders, such as cleft palates or cleft lips
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Infection and disease
  • Skin cancer or tumors

Reconstructive procedures are often done to improve function, but they may also help achieve a more typical appearance of the affected part of the body. It involves techniques

Cosmetic Surgery

Aesthetic surgery involves procedures, techniques, and principles focused on enhancing the appearance through surgical and medical techniques. It can be performed on all areas of the head, neck and body. Since cosmetic surgery is elective, it's usually not covered by health insurance.

The term "plastic" in plastic surgery comes from the Greek word "plastikos," which means to mold or form, indicating the reshaping or reforming of the body that these surgeries accomplish. It's important to note that this has no relation to the synthetic plastic material.

Also, like all surgeries, plastic surgery carries some risks, so it's important for individuals considering plastic surgery to research thoroughly and consult with a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon about their specific needs and expectations.

What Does a Plastic Surgeon Do?

A plastic surgeon is a medical professional who specializes in performing cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries. They have extensive knowledge and training in surgical procedures involving the skin, muscle, bones and other body tissues.

Plastic surgeons work closely with their patients to understand their goals and expectations for surgery. They also assess the patient's overall health and suitability for specific procedures. During consultation, the surgeon will discuss the risks and potential outcomes of the surgery and answer any questions or concerns the patient may have.

How Does Plastic Surgery Work?

This is typically what your appointment for plastic surgery looks like:

Step 1: Consultation

First, you will meet with the plastic surgeon for a consultation. They will discuss what you want to change and why and ask about your health history. Your surgeon will also evaluate whether your desired outcome is realistic and explain the procedure, risks, recovery time and costs.

Step 2: Preparation

If you decide to proceed, you'll have to prepare for the surgery. This might involve getting lab tests, adjusting current medications, quitting smoking and avoiding taking aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs that can increase bleeding.

Step 3: Procedure

On the day of the surgery, you are put under anesthesia - either local (numbs only part of the body) or general (you're completely unconscious). The specific surgical steps depend on the procedure. For example, if it's a rhinoplasty (nose job), your surgeon might reshape the bone and cartilage of the nose. If it's liposuction, they'll use a vacuum-like device to remove fat from specific areas of the body.

Step 4: Recovery

After the surgery, you will need time to recover. Depending on the procedure, you might have to stay in the hospital for a few days or go home the same day. There will likely be swelling and bruising, and the surgeon might prescribe medication for pain. They'll also give instructions on caring for the surgical site, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection and when to follow up with the surgeon.

Step 5: Results

Once your body has fully healed, you can see the final result. However, it's important to note that it can take up to a year for the body to heal completely and the final result to be noticeable.

Common Reconstructive Plastic Surgeries

  • Breast Reconstruction. This procedure is often done after a mastectomy (breast removal due to cancer). The surgeon uses implants or tissue from another body part to recreate a breast.
  • Tissue Expansion. Tissue expansion is a procedure in plastic surgery that allows the body to "grow" extra skin to reconstruct almost any body part. This technique is commonly used in breast reconstruction after mastectomy, but it can also be used in repairing skin damaged by birth defects, accidents, or surgery and in cosmetic surgery.
  • Cleft Lip and Palate Repair. Palate surgeries are among the most common congenital disabilities. They occur when a baby's lip or mouth does not form properly during pregnancy. Surgeons repair these conditions through surgeries that usually begin in infancy.
  • Hand Surgery. Reconstructive hand surgeries can treat conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Dupuytren's contracture (a hand deformity), and injuries to the hand. They aim to restore the normal function of hands and fingers injured by trauma or to correct abnormalities that were present at birth.
  • Burn Repair Surgery. Severe burns often require reconstruction surgery. This can involve skin grafts, where surgeons place a piece of healthy skin from another part of the body onto the burn wound.
  • Scar Revision. This surgery minimizes a scar so it becomes less conspicuous and blends with the surrounding skin tone and texture. While scars cannot be removed completely, this procedure can significantly lighten their appearance.
  • Microsurgery or Flap Procedures. These treatments are used to repair damaged tissue and nerves or to reconstruct a body part after cancer surgery (like rebuilding a woman's breast after mastectomy). The surgeon transfers a piece of tissue from one area (the donor site) to the affected area, maintaining the blood supply through microsurgery.
  • Skin Cancer Removal. When skin cancer is removed, sometimes there's a need to improve the skin's appearance afterward or reconstruct certain areas (like the nose). Plastic surgeons can use skin grafts and other techniques to restore a more normal appearance.
  • Flap Surgery. Flap surgery is a technique used in plastic and reconstructive surgery. It involves tissue transfer from one location of the body to another that has lost skin, fat, muscle movement or skeletal support. This surgical procedure is often used to treat wounds needing tissue replacement in various body parts.

Common Cosmetic Procedures

  • Breast Augmentation (Breast Lift). Also known as a "boob job," this procedure involves using implants or fat transfer to increase the size of the breasts or restore breast volume lost after weight reduction or pregnancy.
  • Rhinoplasty. Often referred to as a "nose job," rhinoplasty is a cosmetic surgery procedure that aims to change the shape of the nose by modifying the bone or cartilage.
  • Liposuction. This is a common surgery that removes excess body fat by suction. This is a cosmetic plastic surgery that removes excess body fat by suction. It's a popular weight loss procedure for those who struggle to lose weight through diet and exercise. It's typically used on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, neck, chin, upper and back of the arms, calves and back.
  • Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty). This procedure can be performed on the upper lids, lower lids or both. It works to improve the appearance of the eyelids or to improve vision in older people where the sagging upper eyelid causes a loss of peripheral vision.
  • Facelift (Rhytidectomy). A facelift is a surgical procedure that improves visible signs of aging in the face and neck, such as sagging, deep creases and loss of muscle tone.
  • Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty). This surgical technique usually removes excess fat and skin in the abdominal area to make it thinner and firmer. Cosmetic surgeons also use this to restore weakened or separated muscles to create a smoother and firmer abdominal profile.
  • Breast Reconstruction. This is commonly done after mastectomy (breast removal due to cancer) to recreate a breast with the desired appearance, contour, and volume. The nipple and areola can also be recreated.
  • Skin Grafts. These are often used for burn victims, where healthy skin is taken from one area of the body and transplanted to another area that has lost skin.
  • Hair Transplant. This is an elective surgery performed to improve baldness or hair loss. The procedure involves removing hair follicles from a part of the body, usually the "donor site," which is typically an area with thicker hair growth like the back or sides of the head, and transplanting them to the bald or thinning area known as the "recipient site."

Address Your Skin or Hand Issues With Expert Plastic Surgeries at The Minor Surgery Center

The decision to undergo plastic surgery, whether for reconstructive or cosmetic purposes, can be daunting. However, with the advancement of technology and skilled surgeons, many people can now address their physical concerns through these procedures.

At The Minor Surgery Center, our board-certified surgeons specialize in hand and skin pathology, providing expert care and treatment for conditions like carpal tunnel, pyogenic granuloma, keloid scar, inverted nipple, venous insufficiency, mole removal, trigger finger treatment and more. We also perform malignant skin condition surgeries, including basal cell carcinoma, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

These types of surgeries require precision and skill, which is why it's important to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience in the specific procedure you are considering. In Toronto, The Minor Surgery Center is a trusted and reliable clinic that offers a wide range of plastic surgeries.

Contact us now to schedule an initial consultation!

March 28, 2024