Plastic Surgery: Superficial or Necessary?

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Plastic surgery is a very necessary form of surgery. It is needed by millions of Americans every year, not only to improve life, but in some cases, to save it. There are two types of plastic surgery: cosmetic and reconstructive. Cosmetic surgery consists of certain procedures used to “improve” a person’s natural features, or give a more youthful appearance, while reconstructive surgery is used to restore a person’s natural form after an appearance-altering event, such as disease, infection, cancer, trauma, congenital abnormalities (birth defects), and burns. Sometimes, however, the difference is not so black and white. A woman may feel she needs breast implants to look more attractive, while another may need breast reconstruction after an appearance-altering event, such as a mastectomy. The difference between these two, although they require the same procedure, is obvious. The first would be deemed “cosmetic” and the latter, “reconstructive.” “The term ‘plastic surgery’ has nothing to do with plastic, as you might imagine it would, because plastic surgery predates plastic. It comes form the Greek word plastique, which means ‘to shape or form’” (Larson Par. 3). Some other reconstructive surgeries commonly performed include operations to correct craniofacial abnormalities, mandibular and palatal reconstruction, and the correction of sleep apnea, burns, combat injuries and trauma. Besides major reconstructive surgery to repair physical defects, many standard cosmetic procedures are employed by plastic surgeons to help improve a patient’s self-esteem and self-image.

Craniofacial abnormalities make up a fairly large percentage of reconstructive procedures performed each year. Craniofacial abnormalities include physical deformities such as hemifacial microsomia (HFM), mandibulofacial dysostosis, Pierre Robin syndrome, Nager syndrome, and various other, rarer head-related defects. Nearly all of these syndromes and deformities are birth defects, some being related to genetics and others completely random. It is a plastic surgeon’s job to help remove the deformity so that the child may go about leading as normal a life as possible. Children with physical deformities or birth defects are statistically shown to be more likely to develop depression later in life (American Society of Plastic Surgeons). This could be due to constant ridicule and harassment from their peers about something that the child has no control of whatsoever. This is an example of how plastic surgery can be used to better peoples’ lives.

Reconstructive breast surgery is another procedure that is performed by plastic surgeons. Breast reconstruction is an option available to women who have undergone a mastectomy. A mastectomy is the removal of one or both breasts due to breast cancer. After a mastectomy is performed, a woman can choose whether to undergo reconstructive breast surgery. Breast reconstruction is used to reconstruct a woman’s breast so that it looks very close to the same as it did before the mastectomy was performed. It can help to boost a woman’s self-esteem and return her natural appearance. Reconstructive breast surgery is usually done at the same time as a mastectomy, unless the patient had previously undergone radiation therapy. In these cases, the tissue would need to heal before breast reconstruction is performed (Spear, Scott L.).

Reduction mammaplasty, or breast reduction, is a common procedure undergone by women who have a physical problem due to the excessive weight and stress on their chest. The physical problems that can be caused by having too large of breasts can include constant back and neck pain. A plastic surgeon will remove excessive fat, glandular, and skin tissue from the breast region, resulting in much lighter breasts, usually correcting any physical problems that a woman previously had. This form of plastic surgery is deemed necessary and is even covered by insurance companies because it helps to improve a woman’s life...
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