What Are the Different Types of Reconstructive Surgery?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 17 May 2020
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A reconstructive surgery is a procedure that attempts to restore a body part to its original appearance or standard functionality. For example, breast cancer survivors who underwent a mastectomy or lumpectomy sometimes opt to reconstruct their breasts. People with scars can reduce or virtually eliminate them with another type of reconstructive surgery. In addition to sometimes being partially cosmetic in nature, reconstructive cleft lip and hand surgeries often aim to improve the functionality of the mouth and hand, respectively.

Breast reconstruction is a plastic surgery performed due to trauma to the chest or partial removal because of breast cancer. This type of reconstructive surgery normally leaves a scar, but the surgeon usually tries to make the incision in a discreet place. A reconstructed breast may not feel or look exactly the same as a natural breast, but they are generally close. This surgery is not the same as a breast augmentation, breast lift, or breast reduction.

Scar surgery is a type of reconstructive surgery that can reduce or nearly eliminate the appearance of a scar. This involves removing the scarred skin and stitching the remaining skin together. Although the surgery does not completely remove scarring, the goal is to minimize its appearance as much as possible. It is generally recommended that scar revision surgery not be undertaken until the scar is at least one year old because the body might still be healing. The outcome of the surgery can be negatively affected in the long term if the wound is still healing.

Reconstructive surgery is being used increasingly often to correct birth defects like cleft lips. This particular birth defect, also known as cheiloschisis, is very common and believed to be genetic. It happens when the upper lip does not completely form in the womb, leaving the infant with an abnormal facial gap. A large gap can hinder a person’s ability to eat, drink, and talk. Depending on the severity of a cleft lip, surgery can fix the birth defect with minimal to no visible scarring later in life.

Surgery is sometimes an option for repairing hands damaged by certain conditions. For example, carpel tunnel surgery can remove pressure on a nerve that cause numbness and pain. Rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that can result in severe inflammation and deformation of joints in the hands, can sometimes be addressed via surgery. Furthermore, Dupuytren's contracture, a condition that involves the shortening of the tendons in the hand and the development of scar tissue, can be treated via surgery by removing the scar tissue and lengthening the tendons.

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