Surgery around your face warrants fine skills, when the result has such an effect on life.
The media can make people feel that facial plastic surgery is a recent, cosmetic discipline. There are cases where this is true and aesthetic considerations always matter but the field is essentially medical.
Dedicated techniques began around 100 years ago, with otolaryngologists (ENT doctors). Seminal publications were available 20 years later and specialist professional bodies appeared over 50 years ago.
Certain techniques are highly specialised, the reason we have a respected plastic surgeon on our team. Other leading specialists may focus on cosmetic surgery but plastic surgery is part of a maxillofacial consultant’s work.
When treating medical conditions, or injuries related to the head, or face, surgeons should focus on function and aesthetics. Their patient’s psychological, or social wellbeing are key medical outcomes.
Medical Plastic Surgery
Facial fractures are often treated by maxillofacial surgeons. They tend to fall into three categories, mandibular, or jaw fractures, zygomaticomaxillary (generally cheekbone) fractures and midface (including nasal) fractures.
Whilst there are many classifications of fractures and some overlap, they share common factors. Correcting anatomical defects and regaining structural integrity are core needs but so is movement and minimising deformity, or scarring.
Cranial fractures also fall under the maxillofacial remit, as can reconstruction following oral cancer, or skin cancer treatment. Otoplasty, to correct ear malformation, is considered a medical, rather than cosmetic procedure.
Facial reanimation is a maxillofacial field. Paralysis is associated with strokes but may be a consequence of injury, cancer surgery, skull surgery, or infection. In each case, improving symmetry, function and appearance are the objectives.
Looking at the techniques used by maxillofacial surgeons points the way. Free flap surgery, microvascular reconstruction, laceration repair, or at times orthognathic surgery have aesthetic and medical elements.
Dealing with trauma, or disease on the facial area is a complex mix of cure, form and function. Facial plastic surgery is an integral aspect rather than an addition and one which is constantly moving forward.
Looking To The Future
Advances in surgical instruments have helped and progress continues. The ability to use smaller titanium, or silicone plates when required is welcome, as is the knowledge to make them patient specific.
This partly comes from improvement in 3D imaging technology, along with 3D printing in certain cases. Neither are we far away from tissue engineering being an accepted standard, with replacement tissue grown on a bio-scaffold.
Regenerative medicine, primarily stem cell based is beginning to play a part in maxillofacial reconstruction. Wound healing is taking strides forward, through regenerative and bio-engineering initiatives.
The latest technology helps surgeons to plan an operation and has become a normal part of our workflow. Many of the proven, recent advances also take us towards less invasive procedures.
As leaders in our field, our London clinic ensures the best techniques for facial plastic surgery are available. Creating robots to replace the skills of a maxillofacial surgeon is however some decades away.
They are the key for effective facial surgery and always think of their care as holding a duality. Your medical health is critical, yet the aesthetic elements they focus on can be life changing and deserve our team’s attention.