Reconstructive plastic surgery; Modern surgery has developed to this extent that the body of knowledge and technical skills required have resulted in surgeons specialising in particular areas, usually an anatomical section of the body or occasionally in a certain technique or type of patient.
You will find ten surgical specialties and this briefing covers plastic and reconstructive surgery. Reconstructive plastic surgery.
What do plastic surgeons do?
Plastic surgery has two primary ingredients: reconstructive plastic surgery which is about restoring function and appearance to the human body after illness or accident and aesthetic (often called “cosmetic”) plastic surgery, which will be primarily to alter the appearance from choice. Unlike most surgical specialties that are defined by an anatomical area, plastic surgery is defined by the surgical techniques that are carried out.
Reconstructive procedures will be the mainstay of almost all plastic surgeons’work: covering all facets of wound healing and reconstruction after congenital, acquired and traumatic problems, with aesthetic surgery playing an inferior but important part in their working week.
Most consultants will specialise in a certain area, although almost all take part in on-call rota working with emergency admissions. Plastic surgeons have a busy emergency workload of soft tissue and limb injuries along with burns. Emergency plastic surgery also supports the task of other surgeons, working with complex wounds from accidents or after other surgical procedures.
As a result of breadth and application of plastic surgery, these surgeons work closely with a very wide wider array of teams from other specialties. Much reconstructive work is required following major operations and it is the refinement of plastic surgical techniques which have made various other aspects of surgery possible. Surgical oncologists, ENT and maxillofacial surgeons all count on the reconstructive techniques produced by plastic surgeons.
Another section of practice linked to plastic surgery techniques is aesthetic surgery, where the body is altered to bring about a marked improvement in features as opposed to to take care of disease. These procedures are not usually available on the NHS.
Whereas plastic surgeons once dealt mainly in skin grafts, reconstructive surgery now includes a variety of powerful procedures relating to the movement of tissue round the body.
Skin grafts involves taking a healthy patch of skin from section of the body, called the donor site, and utilizing it to cover another area where skin is missing or damaged.
Tissue expansion – a procedure that allows the body to ‘grow’extra skin by stretching surrounding tissue. A balloon-like device called an expander is inserted underneath the skin near the area to be repaired, and is then gradually full of salt water, causing skin to stretch and grow.
Flap surgery involves the transfer of a living piece of tissue from part of the body to some other, along with the blood vessel that keeps it alive. Unlike a skin graft, flaps carry their particular blood supply, so can be used to correct more complicated defects.
Microsurgery could be the surgical process of using magnification and really small sutures to join together really small arteries, veins and nerves to revive the vital blood or nerve supply to a bit of living tissue. This technique has been the single biggest advance in plastic surgery within the last few decades because it allows a surgeon up against a problem within the body to move tissue from another part of the same body and restore life to the transplanted tissue, so that healing begins immediately. An illustration might be seen after mastectomy when natural skin and fatty tissue from the abdomen could be changed to a breast through microsurgical transfer.