What does the word ‘plastic’ in Plastic Surgery Mean?

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Why is my surgical Specialty called “Plastic Surgery”?

This is a very common plastic surgery question I am being asked when I chat with my patients in consultation in both my Toronto and Richmond Hill VISAGE Clinics.

Plastic surgery was first mostly reconstructive.  Modern Reconstructive surgery evolved quickly after the Second World War as the needs for reconstruction after major trauma to hands, legs, face, etc. became more pressing.

But medical historians will tell us that reconstructive plastic surgery has been documented and performed as early as 800 BC;  first in Egypt, then in India.  For example, adultery in India was punished by the shaving of the external part of the nose, which then later prompted doctors – and later Italian barbers! – to attempt nasal reconstruction.

The word ‘plastikos’ comes from the Greek and ‘plasticus’ from the Latin; it means “capable to be shaped, molded, formed, bent, sculptured”.  Think of the common ‘plastic’ material that we use every day in our lives and of the ‘plasticine’ our children are playing with.

So how more appropriate for a description of my specialty could it be!  This is exactly what a plastic surgeon today does, both in the reconstructive and aesthetic world: working in 3-dimensions (fat grafting, botox, fillers, etc.), repositioning soft tissues (facelift, eyelid lift, breast lift, etc.), adding volumes here (breasts and body implants) and removing some there (body lifts, liposuction, etc.), shaping cartilage (ear and nose), shaving bones (chin, forehead, nose, etc.), lifting tissues (post-weight loss procedures, tummy-tucks), etc.

Five years of medicine, five years of plastic surgery training in Toronto, additional time in fellowship, all combined with an artistic personality, make it more likely your Toronto plastic surgeon will be able to ‘shape’ your body and ‘mold’ your Visage (face) to better love the way you look!

By Board-Certified Toronto Plastic Surgeon Dr. Marc DuPere

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