Plastic, reconstructive, and cosmetic surgery refers to a variety of operations performed in order to repair or restore body parts to look normal, or to change a body part to look better. These surgeries are highly specialized. They are characterized by careful preparation of a person’s skin and tissues, precise cutting and suturing techniques, and care taken to minimize scarring. Recent advances in the development of miniaturized instruments, new materials for artificial limbs and body parts, and improved surgical techniques have expanded the range of plastic surgery procedures that can be performed.
Although these three types of surgery share some common techniques and approaches, they have somewhat different emphases. Plastic surgery is usually performed to treat birth defects and to remove skin blemishes such as warts, acne scars, or birthmarks. Cosmetic surgery procedures are performed to make people look younger or enhance their appearance. Reconstructive surgery is used to reattach body parts severed in combat or accidents, to perform skin grafts after severe burns, or to reconstruct parts of a person’s body that were missing at birth or removed by surgery. Reconstructive surgery is the oldest form of plastic surgery, having developed out of the need to treat wounded soldiers in wartime.
The top 10 most commonly performed elective cosmetic surgeries in the United States include the following:
laser skin resurfacing