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Plastic Surgery and Cosmetic Surgery – What’s the difference?

Plastic Surgery is is 2800 years old. Let that sink in for a second. There may be modern plastic surgery techniques, but there is nothing modern about plastic surgery itself. The time frame where there is a recorded traceable plastic surgery procedure is a mind boggling 2800 years back, before the Egyptian civilisation hit their peak even. This clearly shows the ingenuity of humankind and the general reluctance to accept mistakes lying down. Mankind has always strived for a better presentation of itself, the endeavour has always been to better the individual and achieve perfection. The mystical nature of this target of perfection has motivated men to innovate and discover medical procedures that would have, a few years earlier even, be assigned to the work of gods.

We Indians should be a bit extra proud of the field of plastic Surgery. Sushruta lived 2800 years ago and had chronicled thousands of advanced medical procedures, and has written a compendium, which, in the times he lived in, would have been nothing but magical. Some of the most advanced procedures such as rhinoplasty have been carried on thousands of years ago to perfection, by none other than an Indian Sage Sushruta. To this day, India produces world class plastic surgeons, who have changed the face of the industry all over the world. When you marry a world class plastic surgeon to a world class plastic surgery institution like Pearl Health, the results are aglow with the scores of lives changed for the better.

What then is Plastic Surgery? For thousands of years mankind has learnt not to live with limitations, be it by accident or by accident of birth. Mankind has strove to change what has been dealt with, and has perfected medical procedures to the point that in these modern times, we can almost assume any identity that we please. Virtually the sky’s the limit. But these technological developments have not come about suddenly, not been bestowed on us by some benevolent advanced civilization. It has been the result of effort over thousands of years. Surgical correction of faults and enhancement of the parts of the body by way of reduction, enlargement or reshaping, using surgical techniques is Plastic Surgery.

Explanations with an example would make the point crystal. Let us take the case of the cleft lip. It is a horrific birth defect where the opening of the upper lip will extend into the nose. So naturally, depending upon the severity of the cleft lip and/or the cleft palate, the patient can virtually be incapable of normal social interactions, and may even extend to dietary complications due to effect on the way chewing happens. It is self explanatory that patients with a cleft lip cannot pursue a normal life. Plastic Surgery comes in as the universal saviour in the case of the cleft lip and makes people normal. The world famous actor Stacy Keach of Natural Born killers fame, was born with a cleft lip.

Plastic Surgery for the cleft lip, which is a congenital birth defect, is therefore, not an elective procedure, but is a necessity for attaining normalcy even. Another example of Plastic Surgery that has saved lives are the surgeries conducted on burn victims. One of the most difficult procedures in the sphere of Plastic Surgery, Burn surgery helps thousands of people have hope in a seemingly hopeless future. Though recovery is slow and painful, thousands of burn victims have gone ahead with Plastic surgeries and there are tales of people leading a fulfilling social life even.

Cosmetic surgery, on the other hand, is, for the large part, elective. The purpose of cosmetic surgery, as the name suggests, is to enhance appeal, and make oneself closer to the ideal social norm. Cosmetic surgeries are elective procedures that are performed to enhance visual appeal alone. The outcomes of cosmetic surgeries are not directly life saving, but they contribute to the betterment of self worth and contribute directly to better self image. In the extended view they even contribute to better social inclusion and help people shed their negative images of their own body and interact with society at a healthy altitude.

In short Plastic surgery encompasses cosmetic surgery too, but the world of Plastic Surgery goes way beyond the definitions of Cosmetic Surgery.

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