Plastic Surgery

Plastic SurgeryPlastic surgery is specialised surgery that repairs and reconstructs damaged or missing skin and tissue. This is usually as a result of damage that has taken place to the outer part of the body due to an injury where the skin or tissue has been lost or seriously damaged or during surgery when a large amount of skin and tissue has to be removed.

Plastic surgery’s main aim is to restore as much as possible to the function of skin and tissue. As a secondary objective it tries to improve the body’s appearance.

Specific examples when plastic surgery is used:

  1. Repairing abnormalities resulting from birth defects, e.g. cleft lip and palate, birth marks and webbed fingers.
  2. Repairing areas that have become damaged after removing cancerous tissue, e.g. the breast and face.
  3. Repairing skin after severe burning and serious injuries from e.g. a motor vehicle accident or industrial accident.

There are three main types of reconstructive methods used in plastic surgery.

  • A skin graft is when healthy skin is removed from one part of the body and placed in another area that has suffered damage
  • Skin flap surgery is when a piece of living tissue is transferred with blood vessels from one part of the body to another.
  • Tissue expansion is a technique that allows the body to ‘grow’ additional skin through stretching neighbouring tissue. The extra skin is then used to assist in reconstructing the adjacent area.

There are certain risks with plastic surgery and they include scarring, infection and the skin not being able to repair itself due to lack of a blood supply.

What is Cosmetic Surgery?

Cosmetic surgery is similar to plastic surgery but it is not normally used to repair damaged tissue. Its aim is to improve a healthy person’s visual appearance so that he or she is happier.

Examples of cosmetic surgery are:

There are other non-surgical forms of skin enhancements that do not require surgery and they are:

  • botulinum toxin injections is when Botox is used to relax the facial muscles and wrinkles and lines appear less obvious
  • dermal fillers are injected into creases or wrinkles in order to fill them out
  • chemical peels are used to get rid of a layer of skin cells
  • microdermabrasion which is a method using a vacuum and fine crystals to remove skin cells that are no longer living
  • laser treatment is used for the removal of hair.

Choosing a Plastic or Cosmetic Surgeon

If you decide to have plastic surgery as it is the only way of regaining your appearance after a trauma you will be recommended by your UK GP. There will be no need to pay for the procedure as it is aimed at improving the quality of your life following the trauma or birth defect. The surgeon who is appointed will be recognised by the NHS, so there will be no need for you to doubt his or her ability to do their job. This is different for cosmetic surgery as this is your choice and the procedure is non essential for your health and well-being. You will need to find a qualified cosmetic surgeon yourself to complete your appearance improving procedure.

A cosmetic surgeon must be appropriately qualified for your procedure and ideally possess a surgical qualification which covers plastic surgery. In addition to a suitable qualification you should always ask your chosen surgeon how many times they have had to correct surgery they have undertaken and how many complaints he or she has received from patients. Also it is worthwhile asking around family and friends to see if any of them can recommend a cosmetic surgeon for your procedure.

A surgeon with the abbreviations FRCS (Plast) following their name will be a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and will have passed exams specific to plastic surgery so they will be able to conduct cosmetic surgery procedures.

What Results can you Expect From Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery?

The appearance you were born with will always be the easiest to maintain and keep in good shape. If you encounter an accident which damages your appearance or you want to improve your appearance through surgical techniques then all surgical processes will have their drawbacks. For a reconstruction job, several visits to a plastic surgeon may be required to enable the completion of a good job. With many cosmetic procedures such as liposuction or tummy tucks, if you don’t do your bit after the treatment, later on you may need to return for further treatment. Some non surgical cosmetic enhancements require ongoing annual treatment to maintain their effects.

If you wish to seek a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon in the UK then you will find one listed at

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