People have many misconceptions and oversimplified ideas about plastic surgery. While many associate the field with the material plastic, the word actually comes from the Greek word meaning "to mold". Almost all plastic surgeries have some cosmetic element, but many procedures focus on reconstruction. In 2011, the most common reconstructive surgeries were tumor removal and laceration repair, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
"Reconstructive surgery restores the normal and cosmetic surgery improves on the normal," said Dr. Rod Rohrich, professor and chairman of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
But plastic surgery is only part of the equation. Following reconstructive surgery, a patient typically requires rehabilitation. Exercise needs to be done after liposuction. And while cosmetic surgery can tighten skin, a patient may have to apply post-cosmetic surgery creams to minimize lines. Surgical and nonsurgical procedures "can complement and enhance each other, but they don't replace each other," said Dr. Alan Matarasso, a plastic surgeon practicing in Manhattan, and a spokesman for ASPS.
Regardless of the type of surgery someone ultimately has, prospective patients need to understand the risks and benefits of each and have realistic expectations about what it can do. Here, seven common misconceptions are laid to rest: