Portrait of a doctor with two of her co-workers talking with a patient in the background
Portrait of a doctor with two of her co-workers talking with a patient in the background

While plastic surgery is often associated with vanity, it is important to remember that there are more reasons to have plastic surgery performed than just improving one’s appearance. The main benefit of reconstructive plastic surgery is that it provides the patient with a somewhat normal appearance, which may help with their self-esteem and emotional wellbeing. How an individual feels about their appearance can be important in both the personal and professional areas of their lives.

What is Reconstructive Surgery?

Both cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery have the same goal in that both involve improving the patient’s appearance. However, cosmetic surgery has a focus on enhancing aesthetic appeal while reconstructive surgery has a focus on repairing defects along with restoring normal function and appearance.

Different Types of Reconstructive Surgery

  • Women with overly large breasts may need breast reductions (called reduction mammoplasties) and women who have undergone mastectomies may also need reconstructive surgery.
  • Surgery for the hands and feet are often necessary for patients with webbed toes or fingers and for those with carpal tunnel syndrome. Reconstructive hand surgery may be necessary after trauma to the hands that involves extensive burns or crushing. This kind of trauma may involve the loss of digits or some form of deformity.
  • Microsurgery is a type of reconstructive surgery that involves surgeries on parts of the body that have been damaged by accident or disease.
  • Body contouring includes a range of reconstructive procedures. This type of surgery often follows major weight loss where the patient may be suffering from sagging fat and skin. Facelifts and tummy tucks are both considered body contouring procedures.

Benefits Resulting from Different Types of Reconstructive Surgery

  • Hand surgery can help to prevent permanent deformities and to restore normal function.
  • Along with remedying the excess sagging fat and skin that can result from extreme weight loss, body contouring can help to improve the shape of underlying tissue as well. The patient gets an appearance that is more normal and that has smoother contours.
  • Breast reduction surgery can help to reduce or eliminate the neck and back pain that often results from overly large breasts. Another benefit is the greater range of physical activities in which the patient can participate. Along with those benefits, women who have reduction mammoplasties are often more satisfied with their appearance after the procedure.
  • Breast reconstructive surgery can help a woman to deal with the emotional trauma that may result from losing a breast to cancer or because of an accident.
  • Reconstructive surgery for wound care can help to reshape tissue to cover open wounds. Reconstructive surgery can be used to treat range of wound types including vascular, traumatic and pressure-related wounds.

The Goal of Reconstructive Surgery

When considering reconstructive surgery, it is important that patients have a surgeon assess their case personally. This is necessary because each case is unique, which means that the surgeon will need a detailed medical history. Dr Scott Haupt is a Salt Lake plastic surgeon from Utah who says that the goal of reconstructive surgery is “improvement, not perfection.” In other words, it is important that patients have realistic expectations when it comes to what their surgery will provide. The surgeon will also need to make sure that patients are psychologically ready for the results of the procedure.

It is important to note that while most insurance providers will not cover elective cosmetic surgeries, they will cover reconstructive procedures.

In the modern world, there are many ways for people to avoid having to live with pain or dissatisfaction with their appearance. Those who suffer because of trauma from accidents or other problems now have options. Individuals who have these problems should give serious consideration to reconstructive plastic surgery. Reconstructive surgery has the potential to improve their quality of life significantly.