How Plastic Surgeons Got Their Name

The term plastic surgery comes from the Greek word plastike (teckhne) or the art of modeling or sculpting. The profession dates back to approximately 800 BC in Indea where forehead flaps were utilized to reconstruct amputated noses. The ancient Egyptians and Romans also performed plastic surgery to restore defects in ears and lips and enhance the appearance of the skin. Plastic surgery was given the status of a major specialty board by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) in 1941. This was well before the modern utilization of the industrial plastic products we utilize every day. Hence the confusion between the everyday plastic items we use and plastic surgery.  

The practice of plastic surgery encompasses the restoration, rejuvenation and the enhancement of the patient through the art of surgery. Plastic surgery can be divided into two main areas: reconstructive and aesthetic/cosmetic surgery.  

Reconstructive plastic surgery is performed to correct functional impairments caused by burns, traumatic injuries such as bone breaks, congenital abnormalities such as cleft palates/cleft lips, developmental abnormalities, infection/disease and cancer/tumors. Reconstructive plastic surgery is usually performed to improve function, but it may be done to approximate a normal form or appearance. Aesthetic or cosmetic plastic surgery involves techniques intended for the enhancement of an individual's appearance through surgical and medical techniques, and is specifically concerned with maintaining normal appearance, restoring it, or enhancing it beyond the average level toward some aesthetic ideal.  

The surgical field of plastic surgery is quite voluminous and covers many surgical fields to include burn, breast, body contouring, cosmetic, craniofacial, hand, microsurgery, pediatric and occuloplastic surgery. The first kidney transplant was performed by a plastic surgeon who subsequently was awarded the Nobel Prize, Dr. Joseph Murray. Other notable advancements have included breast reconstruction with implants/autogenous tissue, toe to hand operations to reconstruct and restore hand function, hand transplants and face transplants. Plastic surgery is one of the most vast and complicated of the surgical professions.  

All plastic surgeons are first physicians. They must complete college and be a medical school graduate. Often plastic surgeons go on to study further into one of the many other specific fields of plastic surgery such as hand, craniofacial, microsurgery, or cosmetic surgery.

All board-certified plastic surgeons are well trained and experienced surgeons. The initial training of a plastic surgeon receives can occur in many areas of surgery to include urology, orthopedics, otolaryngology (ENT), general surgery and even neurosurgery. Completion of the craft requires a core curriculum of plastic surgery that can last from two to five years. The training process is extensive. Most plastic surgeons have completed around 14 to 16 years of higher education, and passed three to five national certifying examinations.  

If you’re interested in surgical or non-surgical procedures, call us at Mangat-Holzapfel Plastic Surgery for a consultation at (513) 984-FACE in Cincinnati, (859) 331-9600 in Northern Kentucky, or (970) 766-FACE in the Vail Valley of Colorado.

How Plastic Surgeons Got Their Name
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