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Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery: Types of Procedures

  • Synopsis: Last Revised/Updated: 2018-04-19 - Cosmetic or plastic surgery is a medical specialty concerned with body and face correction or restoration of form and function.

Plastic surgery is a medical specialty concerned with the correction or restoration of form and function. While famous for aesthetic surgery, plastic surgery also includes many types of reconstructive surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery, and the treatment of burns.

In plastic surgery, the transfer of skin tissue (skin grafting) is a very common procedure.

Plastic surgery is defined as a medical specialty concerned with the "correction" or restoration of form and function. Though cosmetic or aesthetic surgery is the best-known kind of plastic surgery, plastic surgery is not necessarily cosmetic; and includes many types of reconstructive surgery, Craniofacial surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery, and the treatment of burns.

Skin grafts can be taken from the recipient or donors:

Usually, good results are expected from plastic surgery that emphasizes careful planning of incisions so that they fall in the line of natural skin folds or lines, appropriate choice of wound closure, use of best available suture materials, and early removal of exposed sutures so that the wound is held closed by buried sutures.

Reconstructive Surgery:

Reconstructive plastic surgery is performed to correct functional impairments caused by burns; traumatic injuries, such as facial bone fractures and breaks; congenital abnormalities, such as cleft palates or cleft lips; developmental abnormalities; infection and disease; and cancer or tumors. Reconstructive plastic surgery is usually performed to improve function, but it may be done to approximate a normal appearance.

The most common reconstructive procedures are tumor removal, laceration repair, scar repair, hand surgery, and breast reduction. Some other common reconstructive surgical procedures include breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, cleft lip and palate surgery, contracture surgery for burn survivors, and creating a new outer ear when one is congenitally absent.

Cosmetic surgery:

Aesthetic plastic surgery involves techniques intended for the "enhancement" of appearance through surgical and medical techniques, and is specifically concerned with maintaining normal appearance, restoring it, or enhancing it beyond the average level toward some aesthetic ideal.

On average, 30% of all patients seeking regenerative procedures such as eye lifts and face lifts are men. In addition, data from the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery states that male plastic surgery has increased 121% over the past 10 years.

The most common cosmetic surgeries are breast augmentation, liposuction, nasal surgery, eyelid surgery and abdominoplasty.

Other Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Procedures Include:

Craniofacial Surgery:

Craniofacial surgery is divided into pediatric and adult craniofacial surgery. Pediatric craniofacial surgery mostly revolves around the treatment of congenital anomalies of the craniofacial skeleton and soft tissues, such as cleft lip and palate, craniosynostosis, and pediatric fractures. Adult craniofacial surgery deals mostly with fractures and secondary surgeries (such as orbital reconstruction) along with orthognathic surgery.

Plastic Surgeon Qualifications:


After medical school, all surgeons must go through years of hands-on training, residency programs, and specialty training. Licenses represent a bare minimum of qualifications. They are state-issued, but are not specialty-specific; they merely allow an individual to provide a public medical service. So while a diploma and license are required, they do not prove that you have found a board certified plastic surgery source.

Board certified

A term used frequently, but which professional societies determine their qualifications. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), for example, requires a proven level of competence, such as 6 years of training and surgical experience, as well as 3 years of plastic surgery experience. They also have ethical and professional standards.

Membership in another respected organization, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS)

Means a plastic surgeon is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), participates in accredited Continuing Medical Education programs, and has demonstrated at least 2 years of aesthetic surgery experience. Members must adhere to a Code of Ethics and operate in an accredited facility.

Look for ABPS board certified plastic surgeons who are members of ASPS - or better, of ASAPSWhile these certifications do not guarantee a surgeon can deliver the results you desire, they do represent proof of a basic skill set. Choose a plastic surgeon based on artistic aesthetic and personality. Don't be afraid to ask questions and probe; get to know your plastic surgeon.

Quick Facts: Interesting Plastic Surgery

Statistics: U.S. Cosmetic Surgery

Latest Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Publications

1 : Those Traveling Abroad for Plastic Surgery Can Bring Home Serious Complications : Brigham and Women's Hospital.

2 : Loose Skin and Facelift Surgeries after Bariatric Surgery : Wolters Kluwer Health.

3 : Otoplasty (Ear Pinback) Corrects Prominent Ears : Steiger Facial Plastic Surgery.

4 : Humanitarian Side of Plastic Surgery : Dr. J Plastic Surgery.

5 : Exilis Elite Non Surgical Skin Tightening of Eyelids, Face and Neck : Dr. Messina.

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