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Articles

What Is Plastic Surgery?

Dr. Alexander Nein

Plastic surgery is one of the oldest forms of surgery. As far back as ancient Egypt at the time of the Pharaohs, the first plastic surgery procedures to rebuild the nose were being developed. At that time amputation of the nose was a type of punishment for certain crimes. Since then plastic surgery has made a lot of progress.

During and after both world wars, the needs of wounded and disfigured soldiers led to an enormous and rapid growth in the operations available to surgeons and in the skill of those surgeons performing these reconstructive procedures. It was during this period that the specialty of "plastic surgery" came into its own as a separate surgical specialty.

Plastic surgery is one of the most rapidly advancing of all the medical specialties.

About the middle of this century cosmetic procedures were developed and added to the array of procedures that were being performed by plastic surgeons. Since then most of the plastic surgery procedures have improved dramatically. Even now there is continuous change and improvement in the procedures performed by plastic surgeons. Plastic surgery is one of the most rapidly advancing of all the medical specialties.

In spite of the name, plastic surgery normally does not actually involve the use of plastic. The word plastic comes from the Greek plastikos, which means to mold or give form. In this sense, plastic surgeons may mold or give form to parts of the body. Plastic surgery involves both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.

Each year hundreds of thousands of people choose to have cosmetic surgery to improve the way they look.

Cosmetic procedures are familiar to most people and include such operations as liposuction (fat removal), face-lifts, breast augmentation among others. Aesthetic surgery, while not essential, can often make people look better, feel better about themselves and improve their self image. Each year hundreds of thousands of people choose to have cosmetic surgery to improve the way they look. Many have dramatic improvements while some have more subtle changes in their appearance. Almost everyone, at some time or another, has thought of some change they would like to have in their appearance. There are many different safe cosmetic procedures available to improve your appearance and make you look as young as you feel.

Most plastic surgery patients have the opportunity to have their bodies improved, either in appearance or function.

Reconstructive plastic surgery, although less familiar to most people, is actually more commonly performed than cosmetic surgery. Plastic surgeons treat burn victims, children with birth defects and many women who have suffered from breast cancer. The ability to reconstruct a breast that has been removed by mastectomy for cancer is a skill that nearly all women in Tennessee have the opportunity to make use of. Many plastic surgeons treat patients with cancer of the head and neck as well as patients with hand injuries. Plastic surgeons have developed skills that allow the reattachment of amputated fingers and the ability to transplant tissue from one part of the body to another.
Most plastic surgery patients have the opportunity to have their bodies improved, either in appearance or function. Their self-image and self-esteem may be improved leading to a better life.

Alexander G. Nein, M.D.
Dr. Nein is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery. He is in private practice in Nashville.


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