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 skin graft

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.
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