Reconstructive plastic surgery is a type of surgical treatment that repairs parts of your body affected by congenital disabilities, disease or injury. It can help improve your function and self-image.
Reconstructive surgeries can be performed as a standalone procedure or in combination with other methods, such as cosmetic surgery. Learn more about reconstructive plastic surgical services at MU Health Care.
Types of Reconstructive Surgery
There are several types of reconstructive surgery, depending on the condition. Some procedures are purely cosmetic and can be done for aesthetic reasons, such as rhinoplasty (nose surgery).
Others are more medically necessary. For example, a Bellevue plastic surgeon might use tissue grafts to replace skin in a burn victim or to repair a broken bone.
Another type of reconstructive surgery is microsurgery, also known as “flap” or “local flap” surgery. In this procedure, the doctor transfers healthy tissue from a nearby area to cover a damaged area.
The surgeon will connect the tissue to blood vessels, allowing it to get the oxygen and nutrients it needs for healing. This is especially helpful in areas missing skin, tendons or bones. It can speed recovery, reduce scarring and make it easier to move the area.
Autologous Tissue Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction can be done during a mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) or after the breast incisions heal and cancer treatment is completed (delayed reconstruction).
Autologous tissue reconstruction, or flap surgery, involves taking skin, fat, blood vessels and muscle from another part of your body. The flap is tunneled under the skin to your chest to form a new breast mound.
Many patients choose autologous breast reconstruction because the results look more natural than implants. It can be helpful for patients who have had radiation therapy or those who are considered at high risk for complications with implant procedures.
Reconstructive microsurgery is a unique surgical discipline that uses the power of magnification to perform complex operations on minuscule structures like blood vessels, nerves, and bones. The field has significantly impacted restoring form and function of people with trauma, cancer, and congenital anomalies.
Using specialized operating microscopes, surgeons can repair nerves and blood vessels less than 1mm in diameter to restore function. They can also anastomose vessels and coapt them with grafts taken from other body parts.
For example, surgeons use microsurgery to repair facial features damaged by surgery for head and neck cancer or a mastectomy. They can also transplant tissue from a part of the body to rebuild jaws, tongues and legs.
An artificial implant is a surgically placed device in the body to replace a missing or damaged body part. Some implants are prosthetics, while others deliver medication, monitor bodily functions, or support organs and tissues.
The success and failure of an artificial implant depend on how closely it mimics the cellular environment of the host tissue. It also needs to minimize immune response.
Artificial bone implants are usually made from metals, such as titanium or titanium alloys, fastened to native bone. They are typically designed to mimic the architecture and stiffness of native bone. This can promote osseointegration, the process by which bones and joints stabilize around the implant.
Scars develop on your skin after a wound has healed, typically from trauma, surgery or burns. They can be thick and raised (hypertrophic scars) or large and lumpy (keloid scars).
Surgical techniques are available to reduce the appearance of a scar and may include injections, steroid treatments, or resurfacing procedures. The goal is to lessen the size and shape of a spot so that it blends in with your skin tone and texture.
Your doctor will evaluate your scar and discuss the options with you. They will also talk about the procedure and its risks and benefits.
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