Plastic surgery! What is it?!

Plastic surgery is a popular specialty in surgery. If surgery is the combination of art and science to treat patients, then plastic surgery is the fine art of surgery. It combines precision art and meticulous science to treat and manage patients.
It is one of the oldest specialties in surgery, dated back to 800B.C., when reconstructive nose surgeries occurred in India.
The word “Plastic” is derived from the Greek work “plastikos” which means “to mould” and this explains how plastic surgeons mould the skin and soft tissue to treat a patient. (The word “plastic” was used in reference to plastic surgery before the invention of plastics which, was made in 1862 by Alexander Parkes).
Plastic surgery has branches or sub-specialities that one may be interested in concentrating on, as a plastic surgeon. These branches include
  • Reconstructive Surgery
  • Burn Surgery
  • Hand Surgery
  • Cosmetic Surgery
Reconstructive surgery is a major part of plastic surgery that deals with correcting deformities. These deformities can be congenital (the person is born with it, for example fused fingers and toes or cleft lips) or they can be acquired (following trauma, infections, tumors, cancers, blood disorders, etc). A reconstructive surgeon works on the patient from head to toes and sometimes will be required to work with other specialists to achieve appropriate care. They use flaps (a piece of skin with or without underlying structures like fat, muscles or bone with their blood supply) and grafts (skin and other structures without their blood supply) to reconstruct or correct defects or deformities. Most plastic surgery, practiced in teaching hospitals, focuses more on reconstruction.
Burn surgery involves the care of burn victims and preventing or treating the complications of burns. Plastic surgeons use advanced wound care modalities and even surgery to aid prompt wound healing in burn victims. This aspect of plastic surgery also focuses on educating about burn prevention. Plastic surgeons work with other health workers to ensure burn victims survive their injuries and don’t develop complications afterwards.
The hands are essential to interact and manipulate our environment. Though very few people are born without hands, the vast majority that are can develop different conditions that affect the health and function of the hands. Plastic surgeons are specially trained to treat hand problems that results from infection, injury, tumors or degenerative diseases that affects the nerves, tendons, fingers and bones of the hand. Hand surgery is a very delicate procedure and requires fine instruments and good surgical skills.
Cosmetic (Aesthetic) surgery, the most popular aspect of plastic surgery thanks to social media and TV series, is a branch that focuses on augmentation, reduction or reshaping of the parts of the body to achieve a client’s desired goal. It uses surgical and non-surgical techniques to achieve the client’s goals. The surgical techniques can involve using the patient’s tissues to augment a body part e.g., fat from the tummy to lift the butt or implants e.g., silicone implants to augment the breasts. Some specialists also add skin care (Medical Spa) and LASER to their practice to give an holistic care to their clientele.
Plastic surgery training takes time and focuses on both the science and the art of the speciality. After medical school, internship and NYSC (depends on the country), a medical doctor is admitted to train to become a plastic surgeon after passing 3 rigorous examinations; an entry exam to become a surgical resident, an intermediary examination done after 3-4years to become a specialist; and an exit exam 3-4years later to become a consultant plastic surgeon. You can find a list of registered plastic surgeons in Nigeria on the website of the National Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (NAPRAS). Dr Kamal’s profile can be viewed on
For conditions that may require plastic surgery, you can reach out to us on our contact page to book a consultation.