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What is Z-Plasty?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2016
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Z-plasty is a type of plastic surgery used to revise scars and help them to appear less noticeable. The surgery cannot remove scars altogether and doesn’t attempt to. Instead, it works to camouflage them by changing their positioning. When a person undergoes Z-plasty, his surgeon changes the position of his scar to more closely match the normal lines of his skin, making the scarred area stands out less. This type of surgery is considered particularly helpful for dealing with facial scarring, as the normal lines, wrinkles, and creases of the face provide easy camouflage for scar tissue.

Often, scars form and heal outside of the skin’s natural lines, which makes them appear very prominent. When a plastic surgeon performs a Z-plasty, he works to reposition scar tissue and cause it to heal along the skin’s normal lines. To perform this surgery, a surgeon creates incisions around the scar, forming skin flaps. The plastic surgeon then lifts the flaps of skin and positions them over the scar line. This changes the tension between the scar tissue and the patient’s skin.

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The creation of skin flaps isn’t unique to Z-plasty surgical procedures. Surgeons use them in other types of plastic surgeries as well. The different types of skin flaps are typically named in accordance with the types of incisions used and which structures they involve. Z-plasty is so named because the incisions create a sort of Z-shaped pattern which replaces the scar. Instead of having one obvious scar, a person who has this type of surgery typically ends up with a Z pattern that breaks scar tissue up into smaller lines that are harder to see.

If a person is interested in Z-plasty to make a scar less noticeable, he usually arranges a consultation with a plastic surgeon. Many plastic surgeons offer these consultations for free. The consultation may include an explanation of the benefits and risks of this type of surgery as well as an examination of the patient’s skin and scar.

After taking the patient’s medical history, a plastic surgeon can usually determine whether he will be a good candidate for this type of surgery. Among those who may not make good candidates are people with diabetes and those who smoke cigarettes. Likewise, people with a history of keloids or vascular-related conditions may not make the best candidates for this surgery.

Generally, Z-plasty is considered a safe surgical procedure. As with all types of surgeries, however, there are risks. Among them are infection, tissue death, and further scarification.

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