To shape or form
The origin of the name “Plastic” comes from the Greek work “Plastikos” which means “to shape or form”. Our specialty was born out of general surgery and dealt with problems of form and function with the largest organ in the body, the skin. Plastic surgeons were the “surgeons surgeon”, the go to people when other doctors had run out of options or ideas. We have always had one of the most extensive residency training programs to develop the skill and expertise necessary to deal with a variety of very difficult problems. Our residency length is second only to neurosurgery! We were the first hand surgeons, did the first kidney transplant (which resulted from research on skin grafting), were the original burn and trauma surgeons and have always been looking at new and better ways of doing things. Reconstructive surgery runs the full age span from cleft lip and palate in infants to cancer reconstructive surgery including complex micro surgical flaps in adults.
Cosmetic surgery is a natural result of the expertise and experience it took in reconstructive surgery to restore people to “normal” as celebrities wanted to be “better than normal” and were done incognito. Today cosmetic surgery is a common household name and frequently discussed, but buyer beware. There are physicians that did not complete residency in plastic surgery who are legally allowed to perform cosmetic surgery. These physicians can operate on patients after taking short weekend courses or mini fellowships and are NOT board certified in Plastic Surgery or completed plastic surgical training as defined by the American Board of Medical Specialties. These doctors can state in their advertising that they are “board certified” but don’t have to say in what. It is not uncommon at meetings across the country to see family practice doctors, gynecologists, dentists and internists looking for education in cosmetic procedures to supplement their dwindling insurance reimbursements.
Plastic surgeons are unique
The plastic surgery specialty is unique in that the entire residency is devoted to developing an eye for form and function as opposed to the rest of the medical specialties which are trained to treat pathology. Educated consumers in Edina would never go to their plastic surgeons to deliver their baby or fix their teeth! It is up to you to verify your doctors training, credentials and experience before making an informed choice. This is your body, and you deserve to look and feel your best. Plastic surgeons have a proven track record of results with patient safety and comfort of paramount importance.
The best way to find out about your doctor is to check their specific credentials and contact the society and the board of medical specialties to verify certification in their specialty. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons www.plasticsurgery.org, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons at www.surgery.org and the American Board of Medical Specialties (www.abms.org) are all a good place to start.
2010 cosmetic surgery credentials
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery the 5 most common cosmetic procedures performed in 2010 for women was breast augmentation, liposuction, breast reduction, and eyelid tucks (blepharoplasty). For men it was liposuction, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty, gynecomastia (male breast reduction) and ear pinning (otoplasty). The top 5 surgical procedures in 2010 were breast augmentation, liposuction, blepharoplasty, abdominoplasty and breast reduction surgery. The top 5 nonsurgical procedures were:
- Injectibles (Restylane, Juvaderm, etc)
- Laser hair removal
- Laser skin resurfacing
- Chemical peels
Innovations in plastic surgery
The newest advances in plastic surgery right now revolve around finding new and better ways to achieve results with utmost patient safety and comfort. There have been advances in laser and non invasive modalities for fat reduction such as ultrasound, radio frequency, and even freezing the fat for fat reduction. There is ongoing research into the safety and efficacy of fat melting injection (mesotherapy) which has not been regulated and is still not approved by our society because of patient safety issues. There has been some highly publicized advances in composite (multiple) tissue transplant with the first hand transplants and recent face transplants. The most fascinating advances have been in tissue engineering, fat grafting and stem cell science which has some promising applications for the future of medicine and plastic surgery and is still being studied.