Today plastic surgery is often at the center of public attention, but it is really a set of medical practices that began many centuries ago. the two branches of this medical field, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, along with the numerous subcategories, have doctors performing procedures at a higher rate than in previous years. Despite it’s sometimes negative connotations, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeons can be crucial in helping patients improve self esteem and recover from major injuries.
The first records of cosmetic surgical procedures are from India around 800 B. C. Indian surgeons performed the first rhinoplasties, sometimes known today as “nose jobs”. the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians also had similar surgical practices. In fact it was from the Greek word plastikos, meaning to mold or give form, that the term plastic surgery was coined. Ancient surgeries were simpler, involving slight procedures to improve the appearance of the ears or nose. however, the existence of this practice in ancient times shows that the strive to perfect one’s appearance began long ago.
The modernization of this medical branch would not begin many centuries later. Injured soldiers returning from World War I were the major impetus that drove the field forward. Facial and bodily disfigurements caused by war injuries forced surgeons of the time to move medical technology forward at a faster speed.
Cosmetic and reconstructive are the two major branches of this field of medicine. Cosmetic surgeons use their techniques to improve physical appearance. Reconstructive surgeons are trained to improve patients’ functionality.
Some of the common problems that reconstructive surgeons treat are burns, cancer, tumors, and developmental abnormalities. the most common surgeries they perform are laceration and scar repair, hand surgery, breast reduction and tumor removal. though much of their work is functional improvement, they also often will use their skills to help a patient achieve a more normal appearance.
Breast augmentation, nose jobs, liposuction and tummy tucks are some of the many procedures that cosmetic surgeons perform. They are also licensed to administer botox and laser hair removal. these last two are non-surgical procedures.
Though plastic surgery began hundreds of years ago, the number of patients seeking these treatments has increased dramatically in both the United States and other countries in recent years. the medical field has improved the specialty greatly in the past hundred years, and even moreso in the past two decades as the demand has risen. Both major branches, cosmetic and reconstructive, contain several sub-specialties such as burns, craniofacial, hand, micro, and pediatric surgery.