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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!


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May 1, 2020 Update:

Our office has reopened as of Monday, April 27th and we are following the recommended guidelines for maximum safety.

  • To make this transition as safe as possible, and to comply with physical distancing, we will be limiting the number of people in the waiting room to only one person.
  • To prevent having multiple people in the waiting room, we will space out appointments.
  • To minimize personal contact please be punctual for your appointment.
  • Please be on time for your appointment. If you are early, please wait in your car. If you are running late please call the office at 832-900-4818, so we can make proper arrangements.
  • For new patients, please fill out all your new intake forms at home. We will send you a link for registration when you make an appointment.
  • Patients must wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth when in the waiting room or walking back to the exam room.
  • If you are wearing gloves, please remove them when you arrive, we will provide you with hand sanitizer.

Please contact our office with any questions you have!

-Dr. Siegel & Staff

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