Cases That Warrant a Plastic Surgeon's Care

Although much depends upon the patient's unique circumstances, there are certain situations that almost always warrant the specialized care that a plastic surgeon can provide. (See Table I) Typically, a plastic surgeon is consulted when a child is born with a defect that affects function and/or normal appearance or when accident, injury, disease, or aging causes a physical abnormality. Plastic surgeons also are consulted in hand surgery, microsurgery, and craniofacial and maxillofacial surgery.

Emergency cases, such as facial lacerations, burns, trauma, and bite wounds, are also commonly treated by plastic surgeons. A patient who requests a plastic surgeon in the emergency room -- rather than allowing the "on-duty" doctor to close a significant wound -- is more likely to be satisfied with the end result.

Problems Commonly Treated by Plastic Surgeons*

Birth defects and developmental abnormalities
• Birthmarks, including port-wine stains and hemangiomas, congenital nevi
• Abnormal breast development
• Cleft-lip and palate deformities
• Hand deformities
• Skull and facial bone deformities
• Prominent and deformed ears

Acquired deformities including those resulting from trauma or disease
• Scars
• Wounds, soft tissue deformity from trauma or disease
• Burn scars
• Growths and tissue defects including cancer treatment and mastectomy
• Poorly-healed wounds, scars that limit movement
• Lacerations
• Severed limbs, fingers or toes
• Skull and jaw injuries
• Drooping brow and upper eyelids, which impair vision
• Hand injuries and acquired problems
• Congenital and developmental breast deformity

Cosmetic concerns
• Excess body fat
• Disproportionate or sagging breasts
• Skin problems: wrinkling, uneven pigmentation, sun-damage, unwanted tattoos
• Sagging facial skin and muscles, loose neck skin
• Hair loss
• Facial features to improve the appearance of the nose, cheekbones, chin shapes


* This table represents a partial list.