Reshaping Lives: The Impact and Reach of Plastic Surgery
The scope of plastic surgery today has advanced far beyond most people’s perceptions. While a wide range of procedures have an aesthetic enhancement purpose—breast augmentation, tummy tucks, nose jobs, etc.—there are also many others focused on restoring critical body function and activity impaired by injury and disease, and treating tissue defects resulting from birth disorders. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that approximately 5.8 million reconstructive procedures were performed in the U.S. in 2018.
The conditions and challenges that plastic and reconstructive surgery can address are continuing to grow. In addition to repairing tissue damaged by trauma and illness, plastic surgery is delivering effective solutions in new areas and/or in areas that were traditionally considered to be the domain of other specialties.
This surgical specialty is focused on repairing extremely small tissue areas or structures, including nerves and blood vessels. It is employed in transferring tissue from one area of the body to another and in reattachment of severed parts such as toes or fingers. Its complexity and need for magnified optics often requires specialized operating microscopes and instrumentation.
Migraine and chronic headache relief
Although progress has been made in recent years in addressing migraine headaches, many sufferers still cannot get relief even with medications or avoidance of triggering conditions. Migraine surgery has been demonstrated to be effective in alleviating nerve compression sites around the head to reduce the severity of migraines or even eliminate them.
When patients realize that their true gender identification differs from the physical appearance and functions with which they were born, plastic surgeons can play a major role in aiding patients through their transition. Procedures to transform and reconstruct tissue in order to create a masculine or feminine appearance are becoming more commonplace as gender identification becomes more fluid.
Trauma and/or abnormalities with the hand are typically managed by orthopaedic or neurology specialists. However, plastic surgeons perform many procedures to treat a wide range of conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tumors, cysts, Deputren’s Contracture, amputations, and others that hinder normal hand function. These surgeries can include skin grafts, tendon and nerve repair, and even joint replacement.
One of the most exciting areas of plastic surgery lies in regenerative medicine, which is the science of recreating a body’s cells, tissues, or even organs to restore normal function. Both natural and synthetic materials are used to heal damaged tissue or form new tissue. Areas in which tissue regeneration has played an important role include complex burn and wound care, face transplants, bone regeneration, and even creating interfaces between nerve endings and prosthetic limbs.
Nanotechnology is being used by plastic surgeons to aid in the delivery of drugs to bone and deep tissue sites for more effective treatment. Plastic surgeons have used grafts carrying drug therapies and treated with nanoscale silver particles (which have strong antimicrobial properties) to help ward off bacteria and infection as well as improve healing.
It’s clear that plastic surgery is becoming regarded as an important component in a highly diverse range of applications. From enhancing one’s appearance and self-confidence to restoring critical functions and saving lives, the frontiers of plastic and reconstructive surgery are continuing to expand into new and exciting areas.
Dzifa S. Kpodzo
Specializes in Plastic Surgery
As a native of Ghana, West Africa, Dr. Kpodzo also grew up in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Dr. Kpodzo's research interests are in clinical outcomes, healthcare disparities and quality improvement. She has always been highly committed and involved in the community, but most of all she has an unwavering dedication to providing her patients with the highest quality and most compassionate care possible.
Learn more about Dr. Kpodzo.