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Reconstructive surgery restores the form and function of a body part. Although it may also improve the aesthetics of a body part, this is not necessarily its primary usage. Reconstruction is typically used to repair and restore structural abnormalities that may be congenital or the result of disease, trauma, infection or burns.


What are some of the procedures for reconstructive plastic surgery?

Specific procedures vary, depending on the reconstruction that is being undertaken.

For example, breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is quite different from reconstructing areas of the face that have suffered from skin cancer, repairing a torn earlobe or cleft palate, rebuilding a cheekbone after the trauma of an auto accident, or minimizing a scar so that it blends in better with the surrounding tissue and is less conspicuous. Some of the areas that can be surgically corrected include:


  • Skin cancer reconstruction
  • Facial trauma reconstruction
  • Nose, ear, cheek, reconstruction
  • Earlobe repair
  • Scar revision

Is there a common technique for reconstructive surgery?

While the specifics may vary greatly, reconstruction typically involves rebuilding the area to be repaired, then molding or shaping it. One of various “flap techniques” may be used to replace tissue loss over virtually any part of the body.

A flap is a piece of “live” tissue that is still attached to the body by a major blood vessel. It is comprised of skin, fatty tissue and sometimes muscle. This flap is grafted onto or set into the target site.

Facial Reconstruction San Jose

What are the different types of flaps?

The two main categories are local flaps and free flaps:

Local flap: A local flap comes from a part of the body adjacent to the area needing the tissue and remains connected to the body during the first part of the surgery. There are four types of local flaps, named to describe the type of motion or rotation used to position them so they can be positioned for use in the recipient site, usually without interrupting the blood supply.

Free flap: A free flap is tissue that comes from another part of the body, is detached, then transplanted at the recipient site.

What is an example of the difference between plastic and reconstructive surgery?

A rhinoplasty (rhino- combining form, meaning nose, from the Greek; -plasty combining form, meaning molding, from the Greek)) can straighten the bridge of the nose or recontour it for a more pleasing profile. This would not be considered a medical necessity.

If a patient was having difficulty breathing because of a deviated septum (a condition in which the cartilage that separates the nostrils is obstructing the nasal passages). In such a case, a septoplasty (septo-, from the Latin for fence) would be called for and considered a medical necessity.

Why choose Cheng Plastic Surgery?

Did you know that any MD with an extra year of training can call himself or herself a cosmetic surgeon? A board-certified facial plastic surgeon, on the other hand, committed to an additional six years of advanced and rigorous education and training to ultimately become a member of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Both Dr. Elbert and Dr. Jacqueline Cheng are double board-certified, meaning they have an additional specialty in head and neck surgery. You can rely on them to provide the highest standards of care.

Facial Reconstruction San Jose

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