What is Plastic Surgery?
When you hear the words “plastic surgeon,” you might call to mind actresses with outlandish body proportions or aging stars with surreal facial features. Plastic surgery to alter appearance is referred to as “aesthetic” or “cosmetic” surgery. As is the case with celebrities, cosmetic surgery is often performed to change the appearance of a feature that a patient has always disliked, or to prevent changes from happening due to aging. However, cosmetic surgery can also restore appearance after an injury or illness -- when a medical condition leaves a physical mark that makes a patient look different, it can be very upsetting. Cosmetic plastic surgery gives patients more control over how they look.
But plastic surgery is about much more than changing someone's appearance. Plastic surgery is also about changing the form and function of the body, and often that means restoring what has been lost to injury or illness. A body part can lose its ability to function (meaning, for example, to move, grip, protect underlying tissues, or feel sensation) to many causes. Some common ones are burns, infections, injuries (e.g. from car accidents), illnesses (such as cancer), problems present from birth (such as cleft palate), or even scar tissue from previous surgeries. When plastic surgery is used to repair a damaged part, it is called “reconstructive surgery.” Reconstructive procedures restore the abilities of the patient so that they can use their body in as normal and healthy a way as possible.
Plastic surgeons are experts at safely moving tissue from one part of the body to another, using microsurgery techniques to reconnect the tiny blood vessels and nerves. They use these skills not only to improve appearance (cosmetic surgery), but also to repair damaged body parts (reconstructive surgery).
What is Facial Plastic Surgery?
Facial plastic surgeons are physicians who provide surgical or medical treatment to change the appearance of the face, head, or neck. We communicate a great deal through tiny, natural movements of the face, so the work of a facial plastic surgeon requires an unusually high level of skill.
Facial plastic surgeons provide a number of treatment options, such as:
Cosmetic surgery, intended to enhance the appearance. These procedures are usually considered elective, although they can be psychologically very important to patients. Cosmetic procedures seek to increase physical beauty, and can include facelifts, liposuction, and nose jobs.
Reconstructive surgery, to correct the appearance. Often these procedures are considered medically necessary and treat patients who are experiencing negative effects due to an aspect of their appearance. Procedures that can be considered reconstructive may include the removal of birthmarks and scars, repairs after serious accidents, and the correction of problems such as cleft palate.
Medical treatments that do not involve surgery. This category of procedures includes Botox, wrinkle treatments, injectable fillers, or medical skin products.
Facial plastic surgeons may have trained as plastic surgeons first, but most physicians who specialize in facial plastic surgery actually begin as otolaryngologists, or ear, nose, and throat doctors. A large part of the training that all otolaryngologists receive in medical school involves surgery on the face, and facial plastic surgery is considered the largest subspecialty of otolaryngology.
The field of facial plastic surgery is changing rapidly, with new advances in the past few years, such as laser therapy, minimally invasive surgery, and microsurgery. Facial plastic surgeons are able to use this knowledge to help you feel confident about the face you present to the world.
Dermatologists are medical doctors who take care of your skin, hair, and nails. Their work can involve everything from treating uncomfortable and itchy allergic rashes, to injecting Botox and removing wrinkles, to performing surgery to remove life-threatening skin cancers.
Dermatology is divided into several branches. A dermatologist may perform all of these services in his or her daily work, or he or she may specialize and focus on just one field.
Dermatopathology deals with the identification of skin diseases. Dermatopathologists diagnose skin problems, usually by taking scrapings of skin and examining them under a microscope.
Cosmetic dermatology is the branch of dermatology that works to improve the appearance of the skin. This can include wrinkle reduction, liposuction, hair loss treatment, or the treatment of scars.
Dermatological Immunology is a subspecialty that deals specifically with immune related problems of the skin, such as eczema or lupus.
Pediatric dermatologists treat newborns and children with skin disorders. They also provide help to families with inherited skin problems.
Mohs surgeons are specialized dermatologists who can remove skin cancers using a microsurgery known as Mohs technique, where slides of the tissue are examined as they are removed. This is a very exact surgery with an extremely high cure rate.
Your skin is extremely important: it covers and protects everything in your body. A dermatologist helps keep it healthy, as well as looking and feeling good.
What is Surgical Dermatology?
Dermatologic surgery is skin surgery to correct medical issues or improve appearance. Specialists in dermatologic surgery are called surgical dermatologists.
One of the most important procedures performed by surgical dermatologists is called Mohs surgery. Mohs surgery is an extremely precise type of cancer removal that leaves healthy tissue behind. It has the highest success rate of all skin cancer surgeries.
Beyond Mohs surgery, dermatologic surgeons may perform reconstructive surgery to restore function and appearance to skin damaged by trauma or a previous surgery. They can treat or remove growths and marks on the surface of the skin, including scars, moles, skin tags, and birthmarks. Most dermatologic surgeons also offer cosmetic treatments, which may include:
Laser hair removal
Laser resurfacing to treat sun damage, age spots, or wrinkles
Sclerotherapy to treat varicose veins
Liposuction to remove unwanted fat
Anti-aging treatments such as Botox, injectable fillers, or chemical peels
There is a great deal of overlap between surgical dermatology, medical dermatology, and cosmetic dermatology. Some procedures apply to more than one subspecialty. For instance, mole removal can be medically necessary to lower the risk of skin cancer, but it also may improve appearance, especially if the mole is large or in a prominent position. Most dermatologists offer services in all areas.
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