A plastic surgeon performs reconstructive surgery to repair and restore function and appearance that may have been lost. It can correct defects that may have been present from birth along with damage to skin and tissue damaged by accident, illness or injury at any stage of life.
This function should not be confused with cosmetic or aesthetic surgery which is non-essential elective surgery performed by the request of a patient to alter their physical appearance.
Before any surgery is done (unless in emergency procedures) it is essential to have a consultation with a plastic surgeon to enable them to explain in detail the process that will take place. They may feel it is important for you to have a psychological assessment before carrying out any medical procedures
How is plastic surgery performed?
There are a number of techniques that a plastic surgeon may use to move and manipulate body tissue.
Where healthy skin is removed from one unaffected area of the body to cover lost or damaged skin. This could be used for many different reasons such as
- after bone fractures if the skin has been broken by a bone
- damage to the skin following cancer treatment
- damage to the skin following burns
There are two main types of skin graft; full thickness skin graft and partial or split thickness skin graft and the sedation you receive will depend on the size and location of the affected area.
This procedure is used by plastic surgeons when they need to encourage the body to “grow” additional skin. A common example of where tissue expansion is used would be for breast reconstruction or for the repair of large wounds.
Flap surgery is when there is a transfer of living tissue from one area of the human body to another including the blood vessels that keep it alive. In many cases the skin remains partially attached to the body which creates a flap. The flap is then repositioned and stitched over the damaged area.
Examples of conditions that may be treated with this type of plastic surgery are; the treatment of cleft lip and palates, breast reconstruction and large wounds.
Are Plastic Surgeons registered with the General Medical Council in the UK?
Yes, any plastic surgeon must be registered and licenced by the General Medical Council (GMC) in order to practice lawfully in the UK. The GMC provide an easily accessible register in order that you can check to ensure that any GP or specialist you have been recommended to is licenced to practice medicine in the UK.