Summary: Plastic surgery has a reputation for appealing to the vanity and narcissism in all of us. I don’t think that’s the case, and I’d argue that plastic surgeons do a lot of great work that helps people live their lives. A case in point, saving limbs. New research suggests that there are no extra complications from attempting to save multiple limbs at once—and plastic surgeons are the ones who are going to do everything they can to minimize scarring.
Plastic Surgery on the Battlefield
Sometimes plastic surgery isn’t about giving you a youthful new look; sometimes it’s about working quickly and diligently to preserve the function of your body in the aftermath of a massive trauma. This type of plastic surgery was unfortunately common during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as injuries sustained from improvised explosive devises often left soldiers with multiple limb traumas. Often, this could lead to amputation. But there have been some positive results reported with procedures on multiple limbs preventing amputations.
A Race to Save Limbs
Sometimes amputation is unavoidable. But for most doctors, it’s also a last resort. The solution for many surgeons is to perform what is called a flap, or multiple flap procedure, where excess skin around the injured area is stretched to cover the wound. The hope is that this will give the body time to heal as normally as possible and mitigate the need for amputation.
New research published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery seems to indicate that there are no additional complications from performing multiple flap procedures on multiple limbs. This is good news, because often with these types of injuries time is a crucial factor.
What it Means for the Rest of Us
And, of course, there are wide ranging implications for the rest of us. It’s true that we certainly don’t like to think of anything bad happening to us—and definitely not to the extent of severed limbs. But these types of things happen all the time. There are car crashes, industrial accidents—indeed, even ranchers and farmers lead lives that are relatively dangerous.
In fact, one slip of the knife and you could be seeking out reconstructive hand surgery. Dr. Charles Polsen, a Houston area hand surgeon, emphasizes the need for quick thinking and fast action in such a case. Indeed, in most cases, a severed finger can be reattached.
All of this is indicative of an area of plastic surgery which often gets overlooked: reconstructive plastic surgery. Reconstruction is about restoring what may have been lost on the battlefield or in an accident, so people can continue to lead their lives. It’s something that plastic surgeons are continuing to improve upon.
If you’re in need of a reconstructive consultation, be sure to check in with your plastic surgeon.