Plastic surgery is a surgical specialty that involves performing surgical procedures to achieve correction or reconstruction of form or function, including aesthetic improvement in their patients. Plastic surgery can involve microsurgery, hand surgery, restoration , and of course the famous cosmetic surgeries that are so often touted in the news and tabloids.
Non elective surgeries performed by plastic surgeons usually involve an emergency room and/or a trauma unit. Plastic surgeons that specialize in reconstructing intricate parts of the body such as hands, also tend to specialize in stitching patients so that they have the most chances of healing with minimal scarring. These surgeries are considered necessary because they restore function.
There are a lot of misconceptions and errors in the way that cosmetic plastic surgery is viewed by the public, and so prospective patients are encouraged to thoroughly research the procedures that they are considering, so that they understand what the potential benefits and risks are for each one. Benefits vary depending on the procedure, but there are risks that most of the cosmetic procedures have in common. Risks include unfavorable scarring, anesthesia problems, bleeding/bruising or blood clots, fluid accumulation, infection, poor wound healing, damage to sensory nerves with changes in sensation, and dissatisfaction with the cosmetic result. Some of these risks can be very serious. However, most patients will not have any serious problems, and will achieve results beyond their highest expectations. Because elective surgeries are not strictly necessary, a good plastic surgeon would not consider performing them on patients who they suspect will not tolerate the procedure well, or who will not gain the benefits they are trying to achieve.
It is recommended that a patient seek out a board certified plastic surgeon which has considerable experience with the procedure they are contemplating. Asking specific questions about how many procedures the surgeon has done, what their complication rate is, and when the last one was, are a great way to get a feel for how accomplished a surgeon is. Patients should not hesitate to ask these questions, they should not be considered offensive, but simply a request for qualifications.
It is also recommended that patients look at before and after pictures of patients on whom a surgeon has performed the procedures in question. Sometimes surgeons will use stock photos for before and after examples, these are provided by the makers of the surgical equipment for use only by the surgeons who have completed training in use of the equipment. Make sure to ask if the photos are of patients the particular surgeon has actually operated on.