Why is it Called “Plastic” Surgery?

What is "Plastic" About Plastic Surgery?


Plastic surgery has been around for a long time– about 5000 years, in fact. Even the name “plastic surgery” has been around for nearly 140 years: long before plastic was invented (the material “Bakelite” was developed in 1909), and certainly well before silicone was around. So why is our specialty called “plastic and reconstructive surgery?”

The answer is that plastic surgery and the material called plastic both come from the Greek word plastikos, which means “to mold or to form.” Out of all of the surgical specialties, only plastic surgery has the same emphasis on changing the shape of the body’s tissues to improve appearance or to reform what has been lost or damaged. This idea is what unites the two areas of our specialty — reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Although each individual’s goals are different, the principles of improving appearance and restoring form and function are the same.

While we’re on the subject, silicone is not actually a form of plastic. Plastics and silicone share in common that they are polymers — that is, repeating chains of a simple molecule. However, plastics are polymers of materials obtained through oil refinement, whereas silicone is a polymer made from silicon, the most abundant element on earth, found in glass, sand, and other materials. Silicone itself is used in many different forms, ranging from a liquid to a solid. Silicone is a very inert substance, meaning that it produces little or no reaction to other chemicals, including tissues within our body. Medical grade silicone is extensively purified to ensure compatibility with your body.

Allow us to help form the future of your appearance by scheduling a free consultation today. Dr. Jarred McDaniel is board certified, and together with his knowledgeable and friendly staff he is ready, willing, and able to shape your look.

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