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Healthy Tahoe: Basics of plastic surgery

When someone mentions “plastic surgery,” an immediate, reflexive thought is often of a person who has undergone an extreme surgical procedure to change their appearance. In actuality, plastic and reconstructive surgery is meant to return form and function to patients that are affected by illness, trauma, and changes that occur due to aging or birth disorders. In fact, the word “plastic” comes from the Greek word plastikos, which means “to mold or give form.”

Kathleen Holoyda

Plastic and reconstructive surgery may be reconstructive or aesthetic and can involve any part of the anatomy, including the skin, the breast, and the skeleton of the face and hand.

Reconstructive surgery may be necessary after trauma, infection, disease or tumor, and can also address congenital abnormalities — issues that have been present since birth. Some types of reconstructive procedures may not require surgery.



Common reconstructive procedures include breast reconstruction following mastectomy for breast cancer and tissue rearrangement for reconstruction following skin cancer removal. For some patients, reconstructive surgery can also be performed to help manage complications from breast cancer treatment, like lymphedema (tissue swelling).

Reconstructive surgery can also address congenital issues including surgical correction of incompetent lip or palate, which can allow a child to eat and grow normally when addressed early. Some birthmarks may also be addressed by reconstructive surgery.



Another component of a plastic and reconstructive surgical practice, aesthetic surgery, involves procedures that can alter a person’s shape to improve self-esteem. Common types of aesthetic surgery include breast augmentation, arm lift (brachioplasty), tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), brow lift, face lift (rhytidectomy) and eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty). Smaller aesthetic concerns can be addressed in the office with an injection of botulinum toxin for wrinkles or fillers contributing to a more youthful appearance.

The benefits and diversity of plastic and reconstructive surgery are vast. If you or a loved one have a need for aesthetic or reconstructive surgery, discuss the possibilities with a provider who can help you return to prior form and function or increase confidence and self-esteem.

Dr. Kathleen A. Holoyda is a board-eligible plastic surgeon with Barton Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. Learn more about breast reconstruction surgery during a free wellness webinar at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11. Register online at BartonHealth.org/Lecture. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 530-543-5799 or visit BartonHealth.org/PlasticSurgery.


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