By Dr Matthew Peters
Many of us have an appreciation for art and design. Whether it be the visual impact or the cognitive challenge, there is something about the creativity involved that we enjoy, and I see this in my patients.
Pre-operatively I discuss with them in detail how I am going to perform their operation and yet the outcome – when visualised – creates a similar internal response.
Plastic surgery, although based in science, is a very creative vocation. A recently retired mentor told me that it is a specialty involving a large toolbox full of acquired techniques – the trick being how and when to use them, and the examples are numerous. From excess skin around the tummy, to the thighs, arms and breasts after massive weight loss, it requires a combination of skin and fat excision, liposuction and muscle tightening to achieve a desirable functional and aesthetic outcome. Breast rejuvenation can also address concerns secondary to gravity, asymmetries, breast-feeding, or hormonal changes can involve the use of implants or fat transfer, alone or in combination with lift or reduction techniques to reposition existing tissues to achieve the required result.
Breast reconstruction after cancer can be achieved with a patient’s own abdominal skin and fat if available, but when it isn’t, we need to rely on other options, including silicone implants. Management of a skin defect following a small cancer excision may require a skin graft or a flap, with science determining which would be the better match without causing a functional concern and creativity determining how to hide it.
I am very fortunate to work in a field of medicine that allows me to mix science with art and design. Other disciplines have diagnostic and therapeutic machinery and medications while I have a pen, a ruler, and a toolbox full of tips and techniques handed down from generations of plastic surgeons before me. It’s how I use them that is the trick.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health professional.