Plastic Surgery : More Than Just Beauty & Vanity

Updated: Nov 22

When I tell someone that I am a plastic surgeon. The first question they will ask me is "so, what kind of plastic surgery do you do?". They are always seem surprised when my reply is "almost all head to toe, except organs other than skin organ". Did you know that a plastic surgeon treats skin cancer? Did you know that we also treat amputated fingers too?


I am certain that many people, even some professionals I met, do not know the vast scope that is covered under plastic surgery. Let me break it down to you here.




PLASTIC SURGERY

As my pic above shows, plastic surgery is the main speciality that covers both areas of interests (reconstructive and aesthetic surgery). According to American Board Of Plastic Surgery, plastic surgery is defined as “ the repair, reconstruction, or replacement of physical defects of form or function involving the skin, musculoskeletal system, craniomaxillofacial structures, hand, extremities, breast and trunk, external genitalia or cosmetic enhancement of these areas of the body.”


RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY

This area is focused in restoring abnormal form and function of the body as well as enhancement procedures to improve body function. The keyword is “function”. The body’s abnormal form and function could be due to trauma or illness, or congenital defect.


AESTHETIC / COSMETIC SURGERY

This area, despite being the most famous for being related to the term “plastic surgery”, actually constitutes probably 20% from the whole field of plastic surgery. The term is defined as “a procedure that is entirely focused on enhancing a patient’s appearance”. Improving symmetry, proportion and aesthetic appeal are the primary goals.


Sometimes, a procedure may serve both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. For example, a blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery). When its done for a person with limited vision due to excessive eyelid ptosis, it is considered as a reconstructive procedure as we want to improve his/her eyesights. When it's done for a person who has no functional problem, but rather to look more beautiful, it is considered as aesthetic. Same procedure, different purpose.


What does a true plastic, reconstructive & aesthetic surgeon cover? I mention "true", as some plastic / cosmetic surgeon out there in some part of the world calls themselves that even after just going for plastic surgery courses for few months (sometimes weeks), and presented themselves as plastic / cosmetic surgeon as compared to plastic surgeons like me that underwent rigorous years of training of plastic surgery as a whole.


Below is the syllabus of my postgraduate program in plastic surgery in Malaysia. Take a look (click each of them to expand into further details), I am pretty convinced you will be surprised too 😉.



PLASTIC, RECONSTRUCTIVE & AESTHETIC SURGERY COVERS:

(Click the arrows " >" to expand)

1. BASIC PRINCIPLES AND FUNDAMENTAL TECHNIQUES OF PLASTIC SURGERY

2. SKIN AND SOFT TISSUES

3. HEAD AND NECK CANCER

4. FACIAL AESTHETIC SURGERY (Including Rhinoplasty and Blepharoplasty)

5. HAND SURGERY (Trauma/Peripheral Nerve/ Congenital/ Dupuytren/ Rheumatoid)

6. CRANIO FACIAL/FACIAL TRAUMA/FACIAL PALSY

7. CLEFT LIP AND PALATE AND CRANIOFACIAL ANOMALIES

8. TRUNK /LIMB TRAUMA

9. BREAST AND BODY CONTOURING

10. BURNS

11. GENITALIA

12. MICROSURGERY

After 4 years of plastic surgery training (on top of the surgical experience years required prior entering the program), some of us even took a step further and do one or more optional fellowships to pursue which area that interests us more, to gain a deeper skills and experience in certain areas. For example, I did a plastic, reconstructive and microsurgery fellowship that focuses on post bariatric body contouring, facial palsy, lymphedema microsurgery and supermicrosurgery in Vienna, Austria. I also did a fellowship in breast plastic, reconstructive & microsurgery in Gent, Belgium. Continuous learning is essential in the medical field for us to stay up to date with the latest knowledge, techniques and innovations for our patient's best interest. On top of that, sharing our knowledge and experience with plastic surgeons around the world, to ensure the benefits expands and continues for everyone.


Comment below to ask more about plastic surgery that you are curious about.






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