Reconstructive plastic surgery aims to restore function and a natural appearance to body parts harmed by disease, injury or congenital disabilities. Unlike cosmetic surgery, this operation focuses solely on aesthetic improvements to the patient’s look.
Following a mastectomy, breast reconstruction, cleft lip and palate restoration, and burn therapy are among frequent reconstructive operations. Advances in medical technology allow surgeons to create a more realistic-looking appearance with these and other procedures.
Reconstructive surgery treats or corrects aberrant body structures brought on by congenital disabilities, developmental flaws, infections, cancers, and trauma. While improving function is its main objective, it can also be utilized to simulate a normal appearance. Reconstructive plastic surgery can treat various medical conditions, including breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, cleft lip and palate repair and skin grafting after burns.
For example, some children born with syndactyly (webbed fingers) can benefit from finger separation surgeries, which use a zig-zag-type incision to separate the fingers and rearrange the tissue so they can grow normally. Similarly, patients with facial paralysis from disease or trauma can benefit from surgeries that either pull up the droopy skin or rebuild the connections to the nerves so they can control their faces again.
Reconstructive surgery techniques are constantly evolving. For instance, plastic surgeons like Dr. Joel Aronowitz now use air expanders instead of traditional silicone implants to allow patients to return to their lives faster because they don’t need weekly office visits for fluid refills.
Cosmetic surgery reshapes normal structures of the body to improve appearance. Reconstructive plastic surgery uses a similar approach to restore the normal form and function of damaged body parts caused by congenital disabilities, trauma, disease, infection or tumors.
Plastic surgery also restores symmetry to areas of the body with uneven proportions, like an overly large breast or undersized chin. Patients undergoing reconstructive procedures benefit from improved aesthetics that boost their confidence and self-esteem.
Reconstructive plastic surgeons are trained in resecting, repairing and replacing physical defects of form and function in the skin, musculoskeletal system, craniofacial structures, head and neck, extremities, hands, and external genitalia. They have extensive knowledge of autologous reconstruction, meaning they use tissue from another part of your body to treat the area you want to change.
The aesthetic industry has grown to a point where it can take time to remember the reconstructive origins of plastic surgery. But it’s important to remember that while plastic surgery can be used to make changes that enhance a person’s appearance, it can also help them live a healthy and functional life.
Many cosmetic surgery people are happy with their results and enjoy a better quality of life. They feel more confident and capable and have higher self-love and self-worth. This helps them engage in healthy relationships and succeed professionally.
For example, a person who feels ugly and has low self-esteem could benefit from rhinoplasty (nose job). It may help boost their confidence and improve their outlook on life.
However, it’s important to remember that cosmetic surgery won’t fix someone suffering from emotional or mental health issues. Likewise, it is not a substitute for therapy. Some people who have undergone plastic surgery have experienced post-surgery depression and other mood disorders. This is often due to unrealistic expectations. The best way to avoid this is to talk with a psychologist before and after a procedure. It is also advisable to schedule your surgery when you can fully focus on recovery and not have any other pressing matters.
Unlike cosmetic surgery, which is typically elective and not considered medically necessary, reconstructive plastic surgery is performed to restore form and function to body parts damaged due to illness, injury or congenital disability. Some examples include cleft lip and palate repair, breast reconstruction following mastectomy or lumpectomy for cancer, and skin grafts for burn patients.
While rhinoplasty (nose job) is well-known for its aesthetic benefits, it also improves functional outcomes by reducing nasal congestion or drooping eyelid skin that can interfere with breathing and vision. Other operational improvements include the correction of ear deformities and hand abnormalities and the treatment of burn injuries.
Many people do not know that plastic surgeons, including Joel Aronowitz MD, are involved in many surgical cases for cancer patients. As experts in stretching and closing wounds, plastic surgeons play a key role in reconstructive surgeries after excision or mastectomy for breast cancer and other types of cancer, such as head and neck cancers.