Information on Plastic Surgery

Written by Leanna Serras

What is Plastic Surgery?

 Plastic Surgery can be reconstructive or cosmetic depending on the nature or reasoning for the procedure. Although plastic surgery is thought to be a primarily aesthetic procedure, the field of plastics has made great bounds in helping victims of serious accidents or war, those born with certain birth defects, or cancer patients. It not only has the potential to improve appearance, but function as well. Moreover, despite the term "plastic surgery," no plastic polymer synthetic is actually used in the procedure. The term "plastic" is meant to refer to the Greek work "plastikos" meaning to mold or shape. The most common form of plastic surgery is skin grafting which uses actual living skin tissue.

What Kind of Training is Required to Become a Plastic Surgeon?

The training that is required to become a plastic surgeon is as serious and intense as any other surgeon. After medical school, plastic surgeons must complete a minimum of three years of progressive surgery as well as a two year residency to be considered a fully trained plastic surgeon. This nine years of training makes it the longest program of all of the medical fields. Residency training is usually required by the hospital so it is possible that a plastic surgeon may not have this amount of training. However, this usually means that the approval boards have not given their accreditation to the hospital. Patients can check to be sure that their plastic surgeons have the approval of the appropriate boards. Board certified plastic surgeons can also be investigated as well to determine if they are approved by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons.

Breast Reduction

Breast reduction removes excess tissue and breast fat to achieve a better proportion to help with the pain and discomfort that can come with larger breast sizes.The consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon will include information regarding the surgery itself and what you can expect as a result from the surgery. The doctor will ask about medical conditions and allergies that may affect the outcome of the surgery. Breast reduction will leave permanent scars, however they are placed in an easily concealed area. The tissue is removed and the breasts are lifted and shaped into the desired result. For women with very large breasts, it may be necessary to remove the nipple and position it in a new location after the skin and tissue is removed from the breast.

Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction is a cosmetic procedure that shapes and restores the breast to its original shape after a mastectomy. There can be a great variation in the look and feel of the reconstructed breast. While it can look very similar to the original breast before the mastectomy, it will not have the same sensitivity or feel as the original breast. The plastic surgeon can elect to use a flap technique to replace the tissue in the breast area or they can also use a breast implant. Additional tissue is needed to support the breast implant in either case. The surgeon will also have to reconstruct the nipple area of the breast. The result can be very beneficial for the self-esteem and confidence of the woman who has lost a breast due to a mastectomy. 

Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft lip and palate occur when the lip area of the face does not form fully together resulting in a gap that can extend to the nasal cavity. These abnormalities occur during gestation and can be repaired with surgery. The child born with a cleft lip and palate can have a successful surgery soon after birth that will leave a scar which will diminish over time. There may be some speech therapy necessary after surgery to compensate for the speech patterns that develop as a result of the cleft lip and palate. A bilateral cleft lip and palate will require two surgeries to repair, but it can occur a few weeks apart. The surgery on the palate can help to eliminate the nasal speech.

Correction of Protruding Ears

Otoplasty is the surgical correction of protruding ears. For children it is important that the surgery wait until at least the age of five. This will allow the ear cartilage to become firm so that it can be shaped into the desired result. The incisions are made on the back of the ear and are not visible from the front. The surgery is relatively simple and only requires that patients take the normal precautions after surgery. Restriction of exercise in the first couple of weeks is recommended and normal activities can usually be resumed within five to seven days after the surgery. The ears may feel sore and swollen, but this will diminish with time. Eventually the ears will feel perfectly normal as the scars become nearly invisible and the swelling abates.


Gynecomastia is a condition in men where the breasts grow to an abnormally large size. There are a number of causes of this condition such as weight gain, puberty, tumors, and aging to name a few. The remedy for the problem can be weight loss or treatment for the hormonal condition that is causing the problem, but for many men surgery is the only solution. A breast reduction surgery for men is the same for men as it is for women with the exception of the amount of the breast tissue and excess fat that is removed. For women, leaving the breast but reducing the size is beneficial; and in men, removing as much of the tissue and fat to eliminate the appearance of a breast is desired. 

Eyelid Surgery

Eyelid surgery also known as blepharoplasty is considered a beneficial surgery for people whose vision is being affected by the drooping upper eyelids. The eyelids that appear puffy and droopy can make the eyes appear tired.The surgery involves removing excess fat and skin from the upper or lower eyelids. The incision is made in the natural fold of the eyes to hide the small scars from view. The lower eyelids can be surgically corrected by an incision that is made right along the lower lash line. The result is a more refreshed look to the eyes.


A rhytidectomy or facelift is a surgical procedure of the face and neck to reduce or eliminate the signs of aging. The doctor will determine the extent of the surgery that is needed to obtain the results that the patient desires. The incision is generally made at the hairline so that it can be easily hidden. The fat in the face may be redistributed throughout the face and the tissue will be put into positions that are aesthetically pleasing. The skin is pulled across the newly positioned tissue and muscles and the excess skin is removed. This will eliminate the appearance of wrinkles and lines in the face. An incision to lift the skin of the neck area may be placed under the chin.


A browlift is sometimes referred to as a forehead lift and it is used to reduce and eliminate the wrinkles that form across the forehead. The lines that appear at the bridge of the nose can be eliminated also. The surgery can also lift up the brow if it is sagging due to aging. The incision for a brow lift is made in the hair line to minimize their appearance. The skin is repositioned to eliminate the creases in the forehead and bridge of the nose.


Rhinoplasty also referred to as a nose job is a cosmetic surgery that can reduce and change the shape of the nose for cosmetic reasons. A rhinoplasty can also be performed if there is an abnormal structure of the nose that is affecting breathing. The incisions can be made on the inside of the nose or on the outside depending on the extent of the surgery. The soft tissue on the nose can be shaped and lifted to create a more pleasing appearance. The cartilage can also be removed or added to so that a different shape in the nose can be achieved. Cartilage can be taken from the ear if additional cartilage is needed during the surgery.

There are many other cosmetic procedures that can be performed for appearance purposes as well as reconstructive procedures to improve function. Just as past generations have used perfumes, fragrances, makeup, and corsetry to improve aesthetics, the medical advancements of today allow people to undergo surgical procedures to alter their appearance.