field of plastic surgery is like a tree with two main branches.
Cosmetic surgery, an elective procedure, aims to improve aesthetic
appearance. Reconstructive surgery is focused on improving function,
often after trauma or disease. Sometimes those branches intertwine to
improve both form and function. Here we explore three common cosmetic
procedures that also have medical benefits.
is an injectable neuromodulator, which interrupts the transmission of
nerve signals and weakens a muscle so that it canít contract. This
substance is the most popular way to cosmetically smooth fine lines
and wrinkles. It also is FDA-approved as a "dramatic"
treatment for excessive sweating in the underarms, hands and feet, and
to "break the cycle" of chronic migraines. Additionally,
"Botox can be used to relieve spasticity (involuntary muscle
spasms) in patients with cerebral palsy," says Dr. Philip
Sonderman of Greater Milwaukee Plastic Surgeons. Botulinum toxin
treatments are temporary.
treatments minimize a scar so that it is more consistent with the
surrounding skin tone and texture. There are several varieties of
scars. Some cause subtle discoloration or surface irregularities.
Hypertropic scars develop directly at a wound site, while keloids grow
and extend beyond the bounds of an original wound or incision. Scars
that pull together skin and underlying tissue during healing are
called contractures, and can restrict movement, especially where a
wound crosses a joint. Scars mature over a year so it is best to wait
before starting treatment. Although scar revision can improve the
appearance of a scar, it cannot be completely erased.
is treated differently to make it less thick and unsightly, or improve
function in an area with restricted range of motion," says Dr.
Andrew Dodd, a plastic surgeon at Aurora Wilkinson Medical Clinic.
Procedures can be steroid injections to help reduce pain or itching,
laser resurfacing to smooth the skin, or surgery to remove or reorient
a scar that crosses a joint in an abnormal fashion.
surgery to correct breathing issues by straightening the septum, or
the supporting wall between the nostrils that directs airflow.
Rhinoplasty is a cosmetic procedure to improve the appearance and
proportion of the nose. When cosmetic techniques overlap with
reconstructive surgery, it is "the epitome of our goal to improve
form and function," says Dr. Sachin Pawar, a facial plastics and
reconstructive surgeon at Froedtert & the Medical College of
Wisconsin. "Plastic surgeons walk a fine line to open the nasal
passage while maintaining appearance of the nose."
results of nasal surgery are usually permanent, cartilage might
continue to noticeably change and reshape as you age. Candidates for
septoplasty and/or rhinoplasty should be adolescents (girls age 14-16,
boys age 16-18) or older.
surgery is generally covered by most health insurance policies,
although coverage for specific procedures and levels of coverage might
vary. Because it is a choice, cosmetic surgery is usually not covered
by health insurance.
When selecting a
plastic surgeon, he or she should have the experience, training and
credibility you desire in a doctor. The surgeon should have current
certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and be a member
of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Before committing to a
procedure, discuss its possible limitations, and potential risks and
complications. Be sure you feel completely comfortable with the
surgeon, clinic and/or organization you select.