Plastic surgery is a special type of surgery that can involve both a person’s appearance and ability to function. Plastic surgeons strive to improve patients’ appearance and self-image through both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures.
Training in the specialty of plastic surgery deals with the resection, repair, replacement, and reconstruction of defects of form and function of the integument and its underlying anatomic systems, including the craniofacial structures, the oropharynx, the trunk, the extremities, the breast, and the perineum. Residency training in plastic surgery is designed to educate and train physicians broadly in the art and science of plastic and reconstructive surgery and to develop a competent and responsible plastic surgeon with high moral and ethical character capable of functioning as an independent surgeon.
- Reconstructive procedures correct defects on the face or body. These include physical birth defects like cleft lips and palates and ear deformities, traumatic injuries like those from dog bites or burns, or the aftermath of disease treatments like rebuilding a woman’s breast after surgery for breast cancer.
- Cosmetic (also called aesthetic) procedures alter a part of the body that the person is not satisfied with. Common cosmetic procedures include making the breasts larger (augmentation mammoplasty) or smaller (reduction mammoplasty), reshaping the nose (rhinoplasty), and removing pockets of fat from specific spots on the body (liposuction). Some cosmetic procedures aren’t even surgical in the way that most people think of surgery — that is, cutting and stitching. For example, the use of special lasers to remove unwanted hair and sanding skin to improve severe scarring are two such treatments.