Reconstructive Surgery

Why did you decide on this specialty?

Since I was a little girl I have been clear that I wanted to dedicate myself to Medicine, in fact I don’t remember ever wanting to be something else. On the other hand, the choice of specialty is something I probably didn’t decide until the last year of my degree.

While I was studying, and fundamentally in the last years, I opted for surgical specialties, especially those related to traumatology.

In the end, and the number of places in the MIR exam allowed me to do so, I opted for Plastic Surgery, which is a very wide and varied speciality, and which above all allows me to improve the quality of life of the patients on many occasions, and it is a decision I am very happy about, as the more experience I have in the speciality the more I like it.

What do you think the population understands by plastic surgery?

Many people equate the whole specialty of Plastic Surgery to Aesthetic Surgery, and although Aesthetic Surgery is an important part of it, it covers many more aspects (it must be remembered that the official title is Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery).

The most important part of the specialty is Reconstructive Surgery, which is responsible for restoring function, structure or appearance to different parts of the body after trauma, treatment of tumors, or other diseases that may occur. In addition, it is the specialty that is responsible for the treatment of burns and problems and diseases of scarring.

In many cases, it also deals with injuries and diseases of the hand and wrist and injuries to peripheral nerves, an area that is shared with Traumatology. Aesthetic Surgery, which shares many techniques with other parts of the specialty, is responsible for improving the appearance of the body and face.

Who agrees to perform reconstructive surgery?

Any person who has altered function or appearance in any part of the body can perform reconstructive surgery. The reconstruction of function often involves restoring anatomical structures that have been injured (in a trauma or when removing a tumor),

as for example in cases of nerve injuries that prevent the movement of extremities or the face and can be repaired directly or by grafting other nerves, and in other cases where this is no longer possible, the techniques are aimed at reconstructing that function using other muscles that replace those that no longer work.

It also allows in cases of malformations to reconstruct the affected part of the body. There are other cases in which it is not possible to reconstruct the function, such as for example in breast reconstructions after mastectomy for cancer, as these tissues are unique to the body, but we can restore the appearance of the body by making patients not have to wear external prostheses, which in many cases greatly worsen the quality of life of patients.

Is Pure Cosmetic Surgery a Rising Specialty Today?

It is evident that the image has great importance today and the desire to improve the physical make many people choose to undergo surgery, although for many years there has been this trend. What I do believe has changed is what patients look for in cosmetic surgery and therefore also the techniques used today.

In the 80’s or 90’s the changes that the surgery made were more evident (big mammary increases or very evident rhinoplasties, as for example), while at the present time it is looked for more that the defects do not call the attention and simply pass more unnoticed, and also I believe that the patients look for smaller surgeries with which to improve.

What are the limits in cosmetic surgery?

It is evident that when we undergo aesthetic surgery certain health risks are run, and this must be taken into account when the basal state of the patient is not good (either by a very advanced age or by having diseases that make our chances of suffering complications from anesthesia and surgery increase), since these surgeries are what we call elective, ie they are not necessary to maintain the function or life of a patient.

Apart from the medical aspects, probably for me as a professional the most limiting thing about submitting a patient to cosmetic surgery is that the patient’s expectations do not correspond to the results that can be obtained. It is important for the patient to be aware of the physical problem he or she wants to solve and to understand what the solution to it is and how far it can go so as not to suffer disappointment.

It must also be clear that cosmetic surgery is not the solution for psychological or psychiatric problems, since improving a physical defect does not have to solve depressive problems or lack of self-esteem, and sometimes, moreover, new “defects” are sought to continue correcting and end up creating a dependence on surgery that will not increase our happiness.

Another question that needs to be asked is whether the patient is looking for a very exaggerated result, since on many occasions this can mean more important harm to the body than the benefit sought.

What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about going into surgery for surgery?

First of all, you have to be convinced and sure that it is a change that you want to make in your body and what that change is going to mean (which in most cases is only going to be an aesthetic change in the body, not in your life).

Secondly (and this can be applied to any type of surgery not only aesthetic), it is advisable to be informed of the possibilities for performing this surgery and what techniques can be applied in your case and the advantages and disadvantages of each of them and what is the optimal treatment for the patient and the possible complications that may arise and the risks that are assumed.

For this it is important to look for a doctor who is legally qualified to perform the intervention we need, and to assume and solve possible complications that may arise.

It is possible to turn to the medical associations or the scientific societies of the specialties so that they recommend us some of the professionals who are prepared and qualified (all the professionals of a specialty must be collegiate as such in the corresponding College of Doctors, on the other hand the fact that they belong to a scientific society is not obligatory although they usually accredit that they have the title of the corresponding specialty).

It is also necessary to make sure that the place where the intervention is to be carried out is adequate and complies with all the requirements demanded by Health and that the rest of the professionals who are going to intervene are qualified to do so.

Finally, I believe it is necessary that the professional who is going to perform the intervention is a professional in whom they trust, so that the doubts and fears that may arise in the process are resolved with satisfaction.