Many people mistakenly believe that the specialty of Plastic Surgery takes its name from the use of silicone and other manmade materials such as plastic to achieve reconstructive goals. Nothing could be further from the truth. The term plastic surgery comes from the Greek word plastikos which means to mold or to give form. Many of the early recorded efforts in surgery were attempts to restore normal form to body parts that had been altered due to injury. Procedures that we would classify as Plastic Surgery today were being carried out before the birth of Christ. Plastic surgical procedures fall into two major subdivisions: reconstructive and cosmetic.

Reconstructive procedures are operations carried out with the goal of restoring form and in many cases function of body parts that are abnormal due to injury, disease, or congenital defects. The repair of severe lacerations and the repair of fractures of the facial bones are common plastic surgical procedures. Use of tissue expansion and flaps and grafts to repair disfigurement due to burn injury and the transplantation of muscle from the back to a severely injured lower extremity are other common examples of reconstructive procedures carried out by plastic surgeons. The removal of skin cancers and repair of cleft lips and palates are other reconstructive procedures which make up the majority of the work done by many plastic surgeons. Reconstructive surgery might be defined as a surgical procedure performed on abnormal parts in an attempt to restore a more normal appearance and to improve function. The primary consideration here is the fact that the procedure is carried out on abnormal parts or tissues.

Cosmetic procedures are operations done purely to enhance the appearance of body parts which fall within the normal range of appearance and function. Examples would include procedures such as face lifts, nose reshaping done only for appearance, and fat suction procedures. The desire of humans to enhance their appearance is not a recent phenomena. The ancient Egyptians used makeup quite extensively, and we can be certain they were not the first society to do so. Surgical manipulation of tissue to enhance appearance was apparently common in India in 400BC. Numerous cultures have used surgical procedures to enlarge ear lobes, lips, and to produce scars in a pattern felt to enhance attractiveness or in some cases to appear more fearsome to enemies. The desire to change appearance does not appear to have emerged solely at the bidding of the Madison Avenue advertising executives. Americans are said to have spent $ 16 billion on beauty products in 1994. Against that backdrop cosmetic surgery is a tiny but important tool in the quest for personal beauty.

What is the Recovery from Plastic Surgery Like?

Will I be able to tolerate the pain post-operatively? 
Each patient will tolerate pain post-operatively in a different way, and we consider this. While some patients may describe the pain as an ache, others experience greater discomfort. Appropriate pain medications are prescribed for the post-operative patients, and these help minimize discomfort. Most facial cosmetic operations have minimal discomfort post- operatively. Liposuction is slightly more uncomfortable, and operations that require elevation or tightening of the muscles-such as an abdominoplasty or breast augmentation have discomfort equal to that of a C-section.

How long is the recuperative period and when can I return to work? 
The length of time it takes to recuperate after plastic surgery varies depending on the procedure performed and the person operated on. Most patients will require assistance for the first two days. Then most patients are able to care for themselves, but may still need assistance if they have small children to care for. The specific lengths of disability are outlined below by procedure. These are approximations, and do not include return to exercise.

Eyelid Surgery -Usually can get around independently by the second day. With the use of sunglasses, may feel comfortable going to the store by day 3-4, and with makeup could return to work by 5-7 days.
Facelift Surgery -Usually can get around independently by the second day. Usually do not feel comfortable going out in public for 5-7 days. Requires 10-14 days before returning to work if in the public eye.
Breast Surgery -Usually can get around independently by the second day. May return to work at 5-7 days if not required to lift more than 15 pounds.
Liposuction - Usually can get around independently by the second day, earlier if smaller number of areas treated. One can return to work and normal activities in 5-7 days.
Abdominoplasty -Patients may take between 2-4 days before getting around independently. The recovery is almost identical to C-section. One can return to a desk job at 5-7 days, other jobs 10-14 days.

When can I resume regular exercise?
The time a patient resumes regular exercises varies based on the operation performed. All patients are encouraged to start a slow walking routine on the second postoperative day. Regular aerobic and more vigorous activities are not allowed during the first 2 weeks in order to decrease the risks of bleeding, swelling, and bruising. Weight lifting and contact sports are allowed at 1 month in most cases.