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Plastic surgery is a medical specialty dealing with the surgical repair and alteration of form and function of the parts of the human body. It almost always makes use of a skin graft, either from the patient or from a donor. It is a specialty that is used for both aesthetic and functional purposes as in reconstructive surgery to correct impairments caused by burns, traumatic injuries, congenital or developmental abnormalities, infection and cancer. A specialist in this field is a plastic surgeon. Chris Taub was a board certified plastic surgeon when he joined House's team.

The speciality is rather new, dating to the early 20th century. It was developed during World War I to treat facial injuries. However, reconstructive work was attempted as early as 800 B.C.E. in India, and preliminary techniques were developed in the late 19th century.

Walter Yeo, before and after a skin graft in 1917. Yeo is thought to be the first person to benefit from plastic surgery. (Courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

Plastic surgery is broken down into a number of sub-specialties:

  • Burn surgery, both for immediate treatment of injury and reconstructive purposes
  • Cosmetic surgery, for improvement of the features of non-pathological patients
  • Craniofacial surgery, for reconstruction of the features of the face and head
  • Hand surgery, for treatment of injuries and diseases of the hand and wrist
  • Microsurgery, for restoring severed or damaged tissues, including reconnecting blood vessels
  • Pediatric, for treating congenital defects.