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Introduction to Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery

During my 20 years of practice in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, I have observed enormous changes! In the domain of cosmetic surgery, the progress has been extensive, improving in efficiency, precision, safety, and its range of possibilities. Today we can offer made to measure procedures with minimal scarring and natural results. Due to its media coverage, reconstructive surgery has experienced an explosion in popularity and it is now present in our daily lives through the press and the television. So much so, that we can’t keep count of the many articles and shows that focus on cosmetic surgery. Patients of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery have also changed very much. They are much younger, from more diverse socio-economic groups, and the number of male patients has increased. Finally, the domain has been through a re-organization. Our profession has been regulated and re-defined, which resulted in an increase in safety and efficiency for our patients.

When we correct a flaw and/or eliminate a concern or a complex by rejuvenating the appearance, an esthetic procedure can increase self-confidence, better our self-image and decrease the disparity between our appearance and our actual self-image. It helps us to feel better in our skin, both literally and figuratively. Cosmetic and reconstructive surgery has an effect on more than just physical beauty, it is a medicine for the soul and the body as it improves both physical and psychological well-being. The fact that I get to witness these improvements everyday with my patients brings me enormous joy.

Reconstructive Surgery is Becoming Democratized

In reality, reconstructive surgery is very recent, even though it has been practiced for quite some time, notably, a papyrus dating back to 3000 BC was discovered that demonstrated that we had already completed a rhinoplasty nose correction in ancient Egypt. However, during these decades, it was condemned by religious authorities who believed it was demonic to modify the creations of the divine, even judged by doctors themselves who deemed it futile. We had to wait until the first world war and the famous “gueules cassées” (broken faces), for the face and the esthetic procedures to transform. But the plastic and reconstructive surgery domain, and those who practice it, does sometimes still carry a negative reputation. It attracts and repels, fascinates and disgusts at the same time. This is why it should be approached without emotion, in the interests of balance and clarity.

In France each year, reconstructive surgery sees an increase in the number of procedures by 10%. Yes, it is democratizing. Some will go as far as to say that it is becoming commonplace. There is a difference in judgement between the 2 terms but in the end, they are both in accordance. The desire to erase the marks of time, to change our appearance slightly, to improve the harmony within our body, to correct a birth defect, or to treat the consequences of an accident or illness… plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery – the 3 are linked- respond to the needs of the patient.

With cosmetic surgery, we have an advantage compared to other types of surgery. There is no urgency, this permits us to take the time to explain and educate so the patients are clear to make an informed decision.