A plastic surgeon deals with the repair, reconstruction, or replacement of physical defects of form or function involving the skin, musculoskeletal system, craniomaxillofacial structures, hand, extremities, breast and trunk, and external genitalia or cosmetic enhancement of these areas of the body. Cosmetic surgery is an essential component of plastic surgery. The plastic surgeon uses cosmetic surgical principles to both improve overall appearances and to optimize the outcome of reconstructive procedures as well.
Special knowledge and skill in the design and surgery of grafts, flaps, and free tissue transfer and replantation is necessary. Competence in the management of complex wounds, the use of implantable materials, and in tumor surgery is required. Plastic surgeons have been prominent in the development of innovative techniques such as microvascular and craniomaxillofacial surgery, liposuction, and tissue transfer. Anatomy, physiology, pathology, and other basic sciences are fundamental to the specialty.
Competency in plastic surgery implies an amalgam of basic medical and surgical knowledge, operative judgment, technical expertise, ethical behavior, and interpersonal skills to achieve problem resolution and patient satisfaction. Plastic surgeons also need to hone their ability to think in three dimensions, as well as have good aesthetic sense, creativity, and appreciation for detail. Subspecialty certifications include craniofacial surgery and surgery of the hand.