Dr. Lee Kim Siea
Consultant Plastic and Aesthetic Surgeon
Plastic Surgery is a sub-speciality of general surgery, it deals mainly with forms and functions of the whole body. The word plastic is derived from the Greek word ‘plastikos’ which means ‘fit for molding’, it has nothing to do with the plastic wares that we know about, plastic materials are certainly not used in the surgery.
There are two main division of plastic surgery, reconstructive surgery and aesthetic or cosmetic surgery. Reconstructive surgery deals mainly with repair and restoration of the loss or damaged tissues. Tissues such as bone, flesh and skin can lost or damaged in trauma, burns or surgeries to remove cancers, the resultant defects can be repaired and restored using various type of tissues from nearby or other parts of the body with various surgical techniques. The restoration of the defects give back the form and functions to the patients, allowing them to live more normally. Imagine the loss of lower jaw from surgical removal of a cancer without reconstruction…. Hand and microsurgery is an integral part of plastic surgery.
Aesthetic / cosmetic surgery concerns with improving the physical forms of the person. Patients are usually well physically, however, they are driven by dissatisfaction of the physical appearance of certain part(s) of their body. In severe cases, they can be totally unhappy with their whole body. This dissatisfaction can result in minor or severe psychological disturbance affecting self-esteem to the extent of affecting their life. Improving the appearance thus restores their self- confidence resulting in improvement of their life. As society becomes more affluent, people are looking to more than just basic needs, money is spent to make themselves more beautiful; clothing, hairdo, accessories are made more and more expensive and attractive. Some will venture into changing or improving their appearance with aesthetic/cosmetic procedures.
Plastic surgery is not new, the history can be dated back to 15th century when there was an epidemic of syphilis resulting in many disfigured people. Plastic surgery was performed to restore the appearance of these people. The most notable procedure was the nose reconstruction which was recorded in many parts of the world including Europe and India. Procedures than were painful with many complications, even death, results were unsatisfactory by today’s standards, it has evolved through many advances in techniques, better understanding of the processes and importantly availability of more advanced materials and tools.
Aesthetic procedures can be surgical or nonsurgical. Surgeries are what plastic surgery is well known for, this involves operations to improve the appearance of the patients who are otherwise healthy; facelifts, nose operations, eyelids operations, body contouring operations, breast augmentations and fat grafting are some of the well- known examples.
Nonsurgical procedures are done without or with minimum incisions. Among the well- known ones are laser/light and energy based devices, injectables like BOTOX and fillers, thread lifts, medical skin cares and recently stem cell treatment. The aim is to beautify and rejuvenate without using the scapel. This is the field that is growing rapidly; the affordability, the fear of surgery and minimum down time have made these procedures extremely popular. However, they are not without problems and complications, it is important to look for a qualified doctor like plastic surgeon to perform these procedures.
Beauty is a concept, it has no universal criteria. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. It is influenced by many factors including media. There are, however, a number of parameters that make a person’s appearance pleasing to the eyes- symmetry, proportions and harmony are important. Everyone has his/her own unique appearance and attractiveness, it is up to a plastic surgeon to enhance the attractive features and minimize the short comings in order to bring out the best in the person. The plastic surgeon must have an eye for beauty, ability to appreciate beauty and be able to visualize the results before even doing the procedure. It is both art and medicine. My philosophy is to enhance the natural beauty and not to change the person’s appearance. Although the concept of extreme makeover is being promoted, I see it being too dramatic and too risky as the complication rate is too high; besides, it is too costly.
Plastic surgery/aesthetic procedures are not just for women. There is an increasing number of men looking for plastic/aesthetic procedures, a man with big eyebags, frown furrows, saggy face and a pot belly would not make as good an impression to clinch that crucial deal against a younger looking, more energetic appearing competitor.
Plastic surgery is simply not just for the rich and famous or the vain selected few. We seek improvement in all areas of our life, for example our physical health and mental well- being; many of us spend hours in the gym, even a manicure/pedicure takes hours; we spend lots of money on our dressing and accessories. Plastic surgery or aesthetic procedures are just an extension of this to improve our appearance, it gives a tremendous boost to our self- confidence. A lady beautifully dressed with expensive clothing and accessories would not have the same impact if her face looks old and haggard. Plastic surgery/aesthetic procedures in today’s modern world enhance our life style, it is more and more accepted as a way to enable us to look our best at whatever age.