Why is Plastic Surgery Called “Plastic”?
The term “plastic surgery” often makes people think of “artificial” or “too tight” looks that were commonplace in the past. Celebrities would get a “pulled” look with facelifts, and often overdone procedures led people to believe that plastic surgery means your outcome will be anything but natural. The name, perhaps, doesn’t help: when we think of “plastic,” we think of hard, unnatural substances.
But plastic surgery isn’t about looking artificial at all. In fact, the term doesn’t mean what many people think it means.
Plastic = To Mold or Shape
Plastic surgery has a long history dating back thousands of years (see my future blog on this topic!). As such, it was eventually named after the Greek word “plastikos,” which means “to mold or shape.” So plastic surgery was around before modern day plastic products were even invented. Plastic material was named after this term as well because it too can be molded or shaped. We associate the term “plastic” with plastic material, but that’s not where “plastic surgery” came from!
There’s No Plastic in Plastic Surgery
Some people think plastic surgery means you get plastic materials put in your body: this is not true! Plastic is not a hypoallergenic material and therefore is not used in plastic surgery procedures. Body-safe materials such as silicone are commonly used to add volume to a particular area, such as with chin implants. Silicone is safe to use in the body and has a soft, malleable, natural feel. Other ingredients such as hyaluronic acid are used in dermal fillers. This is a natural substance that’s safe, long-lasting, and definitely not plastic.
Plastic Surgery or Cosmetic Surgery?
There’s a difference between plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons, though the terms can be confusing. Plastic surgeons undergo rigorous training in surgery, followed by specific training in plastic surgery. This takes up to 8 years of total hands-on training before one can be board certified in plastic surgery.
Cosmetic surgeons, on the other hand, may be any medical specialist – not necessarily a surgeon – and aren’t required to undergo the years of training required for plastic surgeons. Some only take a few classes before they start performing cosmetic procedures, though others are trained well. If you’re not sure, ask your surgeon about their specific credentials and experience in the procedure you want. They should be happy to share this with you!
To learn more about facial plastic surgery and what Dr. Siegel can do for you, contact his Houston office today!