Since 2011, July 15 has been celebrated as Plastic Surgery Day to spread awareness about this lesser-known super speciality. On the occasion, Dr Neha Chauhan, consultant plastic surgeon at Fortis Hospital, Richmond Road, Bengaluru, busts some common myths surrounding plastic surgery, and also shares the mistakes that those seeking such surgeries must avoid. Read on.
Myth 1: Plastic surgeons use ‘plastic’ or something ‘artificial’ in their surgeries.
According to the doctor, the word ‘plastic’ in relation to surgery is derived from the Greek word ‘plastikos’, which means ‘to mould’. “Since we can mould tissues to achieve the desired form and function, the speciality is called plastic surgery. Though we use implants or foreign material occasionally, plastic surgery has nothing to do with plastic,” she says.
Myth 2: Plastic surgery means there will be no scars.
The truth, says Dr Chauhan, is that every surgical incision leaves a scar. “Plastic surgeons make their incisions in hidden areas, use fine suturing techniques and work on the scars almost for a year even after healing. All this results in inconspicuous scars, but yes, scars are still there.”
Myth 3: Plastic surgery can transform one’s appearance into someone else’s.
“While plastic surgery can refine one’s appearance into a more proportionate and aesthetically-pleasing one, it cannot transform you into a George Clooney or a Jennifer Lopez. The aim is to make subtle changes to a patient’s appearance to make them look better, but not drastically different.”
Myth 4: Plastic surgery is the same as cosmetic surgery.
Plastic surgeons treat burns, conduct trauma/cancer/pressure sore reconstruction, cleft lip/palate/craniomaxillofacial surgeries, hand surgeries, microsurgeries like replants/limb transplants and aesthetic surgeries. “Aesthetic surgery, popularly called ‘cosmetic surgery’, is a small subset of the vast spectrum of plastic surgery,” says Dr Chauhan.
Myth 5: Plastic surgeons and cosmetologists are the same.
The doctor explains plastic surgeons undergo a formal training at medical college for at least 12-13 years, whereas cosmetologists are “usually non-medical professionals who are trained in beauty, make up, hair cutting and basic skin care”.
“Unfortunately, the term ‘cosmetologist’ is used indiscriminately in India by medically unqualified/under-qualified people. This causes confusion, and people start to think they are the same as plastic surgeons. In my practice, I have managed complications done by such ‘cosmetologists’ in procedures like botox injections, fillers and chemical peels. It cannot be over-emphasised that the above procedures are medical procedures that, if done without knowledge of facial anatomy and adequate training, can be life-threatening,” she explains.
The doctor adds that plastic surgery is a “fine and delicate work” that needs to be given due respect by “conducting them in a safe environment”.
“After zeroing-in on a qualified plastic surgeon, schedule a consultation to discuss everything about the procedure being sought by you. A good plastic surgeon will take enough time to discuss benefits, risks and also explain to you possible complications. Most plastic surgeries, when conducted in a safe environment by a qualified doctor, have extremely low rates of complications, and qualified plastic surgeons are well equipped to handle them. Good plastic surgeons will never push you into any surgery urgently, except if it is an emergency like trauma or burns that need immediate attention,” she concludes.