Top Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Procedures

The Blog
Dr. Jude LaBarbera, MD Plastic Surgeon


Top Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Procedures

Not all patients who are planning for plastic surgery undergo the procedure for cosmetic reasons. Reconstructive plastic surgery procedures aim to restore function and correct imperfections caused by physical birth defects, diseases such as cancer, and injury. Unlike cosmetic surgery, which is performed to achieve aesthetic goals, reconstructive plastic surgery is done for medical reasons. Plastic surgeons may perform reconstructive procedures on basically any part of the body. The goal is to rebuild something that has been destroyed or damaged.

Top Reconstructive Procedures

In this post, we’ll look at some of the most popular reconstructive plastic surgeries and answer some common questions.

1. Tumor Removal

Tumor removal continues to be the most common reconstructive surgical procedure year in year out. In 2020, there were nearly 5.2 million of these procedures completed in the US alone. Also referred to as cancer surgery, this type of procedure aims to extract a tumor and often also the nearby tissue. Tumor removal surgery is often performed by your doctor. However, in many cases, your plastic surgeon is involved in order to make sure that the remaining tissue regains function. This reconstructive aspect of the surgery happens at the same time as the tumor removal treatment.

3. Laceration Repair

A laceration is a cut or wound that is caused by a sharp object or blunt trauma. In cases where a laceration damages tissue below the skin such as tendons, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels, reconstructive surgery can help restore both form and function. Plastic surgeons may be better suited to perform laceration repair surgery because they pay attention to the details and work to ensure that the affected area retains function and isn’t unsightly. Anesthesia is typically administered during this surgery and the severed tissues are repaired. Once the desired changes have been made, sutures will be used to close the treatment area and drains may be inserted to clear excess fluid. Laceration repair was the second most popular reconstructive surgery in 2020, with more than 386,000 of these procedures offered in the US.

3. Scar Revision

This is a reconstructive plastic surgery procedure that aims to minimize the appearance of an existing scar so that it blends in with the surrounding skin and tissue. Plastic surgeons rework the scar so that it is less conspicuous and resembles the skin’s natural tone and texture. This type of procedure will typically focus on addressing discoloration and surface irregularities, keloids, hypertrophic scars, and contractures. More than 263,000 Americans received reconstructive scar revision surgery in 2020.

4. Maxillofacial Surgery

Reconstructive oral and maxillofacial surgery refers to the surgical correction of tissue defects in the jaw, face, and other contiguous structures. Surgeons aim to reduce, revise, augment, graft, implant, correct, or replace defective structures in order to restore optimal form and function. A maxillofacial surgeon may take care of the first part of the surgery while a qualified plastic surgeon takes care of the reconstruction. There were more than 256,000 of these procedures in the US last year.

5. Hand Surgery

Hand surgery is a common type of reconstructive plastic surgery that aims to improve strength, flexibility, and function. It can treat ailments that cause pain and impairment in the wrists and fingers (examples include carpal tunnel syndrome, Dupuytren’s contracture, and rheumatoid arthritis). This is a highly specialized procedure that needs to be performed by a uniquely trained plastic surgeon. There were nearly 207,000 reconstructive hand surgeries completed in the US last year.

6. Breast reconstruction

Breast reconstruction uses a variety of techniques to rebuild the breast mound after a mastectomy or lumpectomy. This restorative procedure can help women who have been through breast cancer treatment feel whole again and better cope with the after-effects of their cancer diagnosis. Plastic surgeons typically use artificial implants to perform the reconstruction. In some cases, however, autologous tissue from the patient’s own body may be used to form the new breast mound. More than 137,000 women benefited from this reconstructive procedure in 2020.


Are reconstructive plastic surgeries inpatient or outpatient?

Simpler reconstructive surgeries such as nipple and areola rebuilding are performed on an outpatient basis. However, if you need a more extensive treatment such as breast reconstruction after mastectomy, you should expect to spend a few nights at the hospital. Make sure to discuss the details of your surgery during your initial consultation visit with your Scottsdale plastic surgeon.

What is the difference between reconstructive and cosmetic surgery?

Cosmetic surgery procedures are designed to help you look and feel better again by addressing aesthetic concerns. For instance, women with naturally small (but normal) breasts may choose to have the size and volume increased to achieve a more feminine silhouette. Reconstructive surgery, on the other hand, aims to restore normal function to tissues that have been compromised by cancer surgery, trauma, infection, or congenital defects. A good example is breast reconstruction surgery, which rebuilds the breast mound and helps women who have faced the scourge of cancer restore that feminine sense.

How long does reconstructive surgery take?

The duration of the surgery will vary from one procedure to the other (and based on the patient’s unique needs). Some reconstructive surgeries may be completed in as little as an hour while others can take as much as four hours. Keep in mind also that the recovery duration will vary from one procedure to the other, and can range from a few weeks to a couple of months.