A Guide To Plastic Surgery

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What is Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery is a surgical specialty that deals with the restoration, reconstruction or alteration of aesthetics and function of the human body. The discipline includes both cosmetic surgery , which attempts to reconstruct the form and features of a person’s body, including skin plastic surgery (also known as “reconstructive plastic surgery” or “reconoplastics”) which involves the repair of defects in form and function caused by trauma or disease. Plastic surgery differs from dermatology, which deals with the treatment of disorders of the skin (including hair loss and acne), eye, hair follicles, and mucous membranes that are not strictly those of the face or head.

Types of Plastic Surgery Techniques

There are three basic types of plastic surgery techniques:

  • Reconstructive Surgery, which reconstructs a damaged area, and may involve the use of skin grafting, pedicle flap reconstruction, or tissue expansion procedures.
  • Cosmetic Surgery, which involves the reconstruction of form and features on a normal body, or the alteration of those features that are no longer desired.
  • Aesthetic surgery, non-surgical procedures such as botulinum toxin injections, laser skin resurfacing, chemical peels etc.

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When Do People Opt to Receive Plastic Surgery?

People seek plastic surgery for a number of reasons, including:

  • To reconstruct an area that has been damaged by disease or trauma.
  • To alter physical features they dislike (such as removing excessive body hair in men).
  • To improve their appearance and attractiveness (“cosmetic” surgery).
  • Because the person was born with a feature that they dislike, such as a cleft lip or physical disability.
  • To restore the function of a damaged area (for example reconstructive surgery following breast cancer)

What Are the Most Common Plastic Surgery Procedures?

The most common plastic surgery procedures performed in the United States today are:

  1. Liposuction (the removal of fat), which is often combined with contouring to remove and/or sculpt areas such as hips, thighs, abdomen or buttocks.
  2. Breast augmentation (the enlargement of breasts by the insertion of a prosthesis) which can be achieved through breast implants or fat transfer.
  3. Rhinoplasty (a nose reshaping procedure), and a number of other facial reconstructive surgeries, including: scalp replacement, skull reconstruction, orbital implants and ocular implants.
  4. Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
  5. Surgical & Non-Surgical Hair Removal (for both men and women, including laser hair removal, electrolysis, the use of chemical depilatories, bleaching creams and waxing).
  6. Botox injections for treating forehead wrinkles or blepharoptosis (droopy eyelids).
  7. Dermal fillers for treating facial wrinkles, hollowed cheeks or deep-set eyes.
  8. Breast Implants (for both men and women)
  9. Lip Enhancement (through injection of a dermal filler).
  10. Face Lift (also called rhytidectomy – to correct sagging facial features caused by aging, weight loss, pregnancy, sun exposure or past acne).

Risks Associated with Plastic Surgery

Every surgical procedure, regardless of the area being operated on, carries with it some risks and potential complications. Plastic surgery is no exception to this rule. Complications that may occur during or after a plastic surgery procedure include:

  • Infection – either localized or systemic (into the bloodstream).
  • Bleeding & bruising at the site of operation.
  • Allergic reaction to anesthesia – possible rare side effect from use of general anesthesia in reconstructive procedures where deep tissue reconstruction takes place. Even more serious side effects can result from other anesthetic drugs used in sedation for cosmetic procedures.
  • Chemicals injected into tissues can cause burns if not administered properly by trained personnel.
  • Poor wound healing, resulting in an unsightly scar.
  • Numbness and/or tingling of the skin around the operation site due to nerve injury. This can also cause sexual dysfunction problems.
  • Long term changes in sensation in the area operated on (especially common following liposuction procedures).
  • Skin loss or tissue death (necrosis) may occur if a blood clot forms inside a vein during surgery and blocks return of blood to that part of the body (ischemia). This is more likely to happen when too much fat has been removed from one area at one time.

Do Alternatives Exist to Plastic Surgery?

The primary alternative to plastic surgery is exercise. Exercise coupled with a healthy diet can help people improve their appearance by helping them lose weight and tone muscle, which brings about improved body contouring. Most of all – being healthy boosts self-esteem and makes us feel good about ourselves naturally!

There are also non-surgical alternatives to various plastic surgery treatments that can provide similar effects. These include dermal fillers (for lip enhancement or facial wrinkles), Botox injections (to relax forehead frown lines and treat droopy eyelids) or laser hair removal (to remove excess body hair).

Plastic Surgery Lifestyle Changes and Recovery

The amount of time needed to recover from a plastic surgery procedure varies greatly and is dependent on the nature of the operation. For example, breast augmentation usually requires at most 4 weeks for recovery before going back to work. However, facial reconstruction surgeries will require significantly longer (up to 12 months or more) in order to properly evaluate results and ensure proper healing has taken place before allowing patients back into normal activities. In addition – some procedures are more involved than others and complications can arise that prolong recovery time. Surgery on delicate areas such as eyelids, ears or nipples may require protection with bandages or splints following surgery until wounds have fully healed and risk of infection has passed.

What Research Currently Exists Around Plastic Surgery?

There is a plethora of clinical research that has taken place around plastic surgery since its introduction to the field of medicine as a category. Research can be broadly categorized into several main branches: improving surgical techniques, understanding the biology behind tissue repair and growth, refining anesthetic methods and conducting clinical trials for longer-term related studies (such as long-term comparisons.

Research around improving surgical techniques includes basic research to improve current methods for shaving and sculpting body parts. Ongoing clinical trials look into ways to precisely shave body hair or sculpt eyebrows and eyelashes using novel treatments such as the use of lasers. Developments in this branch include studies that aim to find ways to reduce pain after surgery, increase the likelihood of wound-healing success and improve the appearance of scars that result from surgery.

Understanding the biology behind tissue repair and growth focuses around the body’s natural healing process. Usually, this is done in areas where research does not already exist (such as around the healing process after more complicated procedures).

Refining anesthetic methods focuses on how we can improve anesthetic techniques to make them safer and more comfortable for patients.

Conducting long term trials is aimed at developing effective treatments that can be used in plastic surgery clinical trials for longer-term studies. For example, research may focus on testing the effectiveness of a drug that can be used to promote wound-healing after surgery.

Why Are Further Plastic Surgery Clinical Trials Important?

The importance of further plastic surgery clinical trials lies in the fact that they are much more complex and difficult to conduct than most other surgical divisions. They often require a number of people and resources are extremely high. For example, it costs an average of $12,000 to conduct one clinical trial in psychopharmacology , whereas the cost can be as much as $1million for plastic surgery research . The reason such large sums are required is that plastic surgery requires expensive specialized equipment and is usually performed at specialized clinics or hospitals. In addition – medical professionals performing plastic surgery also have higher specialization levels than most other fields and therefore require more training in order to perform them.

What Can I Expect in a Plastic Surgery Clinical Trial?

Participation in a plastic surgery clinical trial can be exciting and rewarding experience. However, before considering participation, make sure to request information from the clinic regarding what is expected of you as a participant. This will help you understand whether or not it is right for you. Clinical trials usually involve several stages:

Preparation stage – this includes things like screening, physical and psychological checks. You will be filled in on the details of the study during this stage.

Participation stage – this is when you go through with treatment as part of the clinical trial . You may have to attend an interview or a follow-up questionnaire/consultation after your procedure. This usually involves travel expenses being covered.

Participation in a plastic surgery clinical trial may be just the thing you need to help feel more comfortable with your decision to have plastic surgery. It can also give you an added sense of reassurance that what you are doing is the best choice for your lifestyle and well-being and provides an insight into the process that goes on behind.

Current Plastic Surgery Clinical Trials

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