World Plastic Surgery Day

July 15 is World Plastic Surgery Day. This branch of medical science is often looked down upon for its frivolous nature, as a means of enhancing what one does not possess naturally and many consider it to be going against nature. But plastic surgery is not just restricted to making you beautiful, it has other purposes too.

What is plastic surgery and how does it benefits the human race?

Plastic surgery is not just cosmetic surgery, and cosmetic surgery is not just a frivolous, narcissistic unnecessary selfish choice to change a part of your body or improve your body image.

It originated in ancient India (600 BC) when master surgeon Shusruta started making noses out of forehead skin using an amazingly ingenious technique. This technique is still used in modern plastic surgery to reconstruct noses.

Plastic surgery has two broad divisions reconstructive surgery and aesthetic surgery. These are not mutually exclusive and very often a patient will end up needing both to achieve the best results.

Reconstructive surgery as the name suggests is designed to take a damaged area and repair it to bring it closer to normal form and function. It is needed in cases of birth defects, trauma, infections or cancers which have destroyed the skin and tissues, and uses techniques like skin grafts (where skin is taken from one area of the body and transplanted to another) or skin and tissue flaps (where a piece of skin with soft tissue, muscle, nerves or bone is transplanted from one area of the body to the other).

Common examples of reconstructive plastic surgery are management and repair of cleft lips, burns, accidental wounds or tissue defects left after cutting out cancerous tissue.

Cosmetic surgery is designed to take you from the normal to the beautiful. Beauty is a very deep-seated concept in the human mind. The need to wear ornaments, make-up, nice clothes and other accessories has been present right from the caveman days, and is a reflection of ‘the need to be seen’ that is so critical to humans.

Common examples of cosmetic surgery are reshaping or enhancement of the nose, breast, tummy and buttocks. While in most instances cosmetic surgery will create a better form, it can also improve function like improved breathing after nose jobs, reduced neck pain after breast reduction or improved hygiene after the loose hanging skin is taken away in a tummy tuck.

Plastic surgery therefore is a very important service that caters to human needs at all levels, improving form and function and bringing normality and joy to the patients and improving their self-esteem and quality of life.