Plastic surgery can either be a medical requirement following a surgery or a personal choice to improve appearance. Either way, it’s evolved significantly over the years. Now, you can have cosmetic surgery peformed without any signs of scarring, which would have been difficult even a decade ago. This is all thanks to technology that has revolutionized the plastic surgery industry.
A Brief History of Plastic Surgery
Plastic surgery procedures actually go as far back as 800 B.C. Ancient civilizations used skin still attached to the arm or leg as grafts for other parts of the body. They didn’t know how to keep skin alive without leaving it attached to the body, so the recipient would spend days in an uncomfortable position while their skin fused to another body part. After a couple of weeks, the skin would be severed from its original area, and it would take several more weeks to heal properly.
This version of plastic surgery never had a pretty result, and it was almost always for medical purposes. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that breast augmentation, nose jobs, and other plastic surgery procedures became popular.
During this time, the procedures were rudimentary, at best. The enhancements could be done with a favorable result, but there was almost always unsightly scarring and complications that resulted.
Technology continues to advance – today, we have machines and automation that make it possible to deliver incredible results with very few negative side effects.
Micro-Surgery Procedures Are Now the Norm
Physicians have been working for centuries to perfect plastic surgery methods that wouldn’t leave terrible scars for the recipient, and micro-surgical techniques are the solution. The micro-surgical procedure is done with tiny incisions and devices that leave minimal to no visible scarring.
An endoscope, for example, is a long, thin tool with a camera on the end that can be inserted into a tiny cut. It will show video of the underlying tissues, and surgeons can use the video to perform any changes. Brow and jowl lifts are often completed this way, as are any other procedures dealing with excess skin removal.
There are other applications for micro-surgery as well. World-renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Schusterman of Houston is known for his ground-breaking research and application of micro-surgical reconstruction techniques in breast augmentation surgeries. He uses his knowledge primarily for medically reconstructive techniques, which have become more common.
Tissue Engineering Makes Procedures More Realistic and Effective
Recent advancements in tissue engineering have also revolutionized the industry. Before, a successful procedure wasn’t always possible. Sometimes, the new tissues wouldn’t “take” to a person’s skin, and they would have to start all over again.
Things are much different now. Grafting skin from one area of the body to another isn’t always necessary. Instead, implants and tissue can be generated using silicone materials. Surgeons better understand the cellular response to external stimuli, which makes engineering tissue and having it “take” possible.
For example, biomaterial technology has advanced to the point where it can use an alloplastic biodegradable scaffold for human cell growth. The addition of polyglycolic acid and poly-L-lactic acid makes cartilage and bone engineering possible as well.
Besides the scientific mixture of biomaterial, we also have 3D printing, which has begun printing tissue for plastic surgery procedures. Because of the expense, 3D printing is not used often for tissue engineering, but as time goes on and processes are made more efficient, it will likely become a more common part of the process.
Computer-Assisted Imaging Brings Better Results
In both cosmetic and reconstructive plastic procedures, the use of imaging gives surgeons exact specifications so that the result perfectly matches the candidate. It’s great for both high-end results in surgeries as well as reconstructive surgeries that need to grow with the patient.
For example, computer-assisted imaging is often used in craniofacial surgery, which is performed to correct skeletal deformities in the cranium and facial bones. If not corrected in infancy, this procedure can lead to severe deformities as the child grows. With imaging, surgeons can not only reconstruct the affected areas in infants, but they can also help the tissues grow with the child.
Computer power makes plastic surgery better in so many areas, including accuracy and efficiency. The medical field is one of the most grateful beneficiaries of the technology age.