The term plastic surgery comes from the Greek “plastikos” and means restoration and/or improvement of human tissues. The speciality of plastic surgery has historically two aims: to recreate important functional deficiencies while respecting the most aesthetic benefit for the patient. The official name of our specialty is Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery.
Plastic surgery, aesthetic surgery, cosmetic surgery what does it all mean?
All these terms can be confusing to many people. In this blog post we will explain these terms. Let’s start with aesthetic surgery.
Aesthetic (cosmetic) plastic surgery
Aesthetic surgery is the part of our work where we help people feel better about themselves by modifying their appearance. In some countries the term cosmetic surgery is used for this type of procedures as well. The definition of pure aesthetic surgery is not always evident and depends on the health care departments of governments in European countries. All European countries agree however on the fact that no free-standing speciality in aesthetic surgery exists today, nor a specialty of cosmetic surgery!
Aesthetic or cosmetic surgery is the improvement of the external appearance from a patient perspective, so it is the patient who decides they want a procedure, they choose the doctor they discuss the indication and procedure with the doctor and they pay themselves. Thus, patients seeking this kind of surgery should have primarily no physical disease. This is why it is extremely important to evaluate the patients general physical and mental health condition to avoid unexpected outcomes and interference with undetected other diseases. After all, it would be sad to get into trouble, while you just wanted to look better! When aesthetic procedures are done, we always make sure that the function is not harmed. Plastic surgery is often being associated with facelifts and breast enlargement by the general public but in our training, we are taught reconstructive as well, so we know how to avoid problems creating functional complaints after aesthetic procedures.
Reconstructive plastic surgery
Reconstructive plastic surgery includes craniofacial surgery, breast-reconstruction, hand- and microsurgery (and others). These different sub specialities are repairing functional impairments due to cancer, trauma, burns and congenital diseases. The overall goal is to restore a normal appearance and help patients to be reintegrated in normal social life.
Reconstructive plastic surgery is not limited to one specific part of the body. Specific techniques developed by plastic surgeons such as microsurgery make it possible to reconstruct a breast or large abdominal defects after cancer. We restore the possibility to look like a human being again after removal of the jaw for cancer and replant fingers after accidents. Most people know our involvement in burns, but we also help repairing pressure sores, diabetic feet ulcers and all other sorts of skin defects like those after skin cancer and accidents. Babies can be born with congenital deformities, which can cause serious deformities such as cleft lips and extra fingers, plastic surgery helps out here as well. All these so-called reconstructive procedures are being carried out with the functional repair as primary goal but doing so as aesthetic as possible.
Reconstructive procedures are generally paid back by the health insurance, this in contrast to aesthetic procedures where the patient pays for the procedure themselves. This commercial aspect unfortunately attracts practitioners without proper training for financial reasons. This is a worldwide concern since all aesthetic procedures are medical procedures, with possible complications and serious side effects. So, you need to know what you are getting into! Plastic surgeons are the only specialty with a long and intense training in both aesthetic as well as reconstructive aspects. That is why it is so important to know who you are dealing with when choosing a doctor, no matter if it is for your breast reconstruction, your skin cancer removal or your facelift
Realplasticsurgeon.eu collaborates with national plastic surgery societies (Reconstructive and Aesthetic) in all European countries to make sure that all surgeons listed on this website are well trained board-certified plastic surgeons. Curious about what our training looks like? Check the training requirements of your country…
If you want that your surgery is done by a “Real Plastic Surgeon”, please check it here.