Two Surgeons in One

Posted by Dr. Safa on May 17th, 2012 in Choosing a Surgeon

Traumatic injuries resulting in disfigurement of or the loss of a limb demand the skill of a professional surgeon.  Choosing the best surgeon for your needs becomes the challenge, and the skills of an orthopedic surgeon and that of a plastic surgeon are often weighed.  However, the best of both worlds does exist.

Your injury may be one that involves the hand. When people think hand surgery, oftentimes they think orthopedic surgery.  One reason for this thinking is that there are simply more orthopedic surgeons than plastic surgeons. The fact remains, though, that you can do hand surgery from either route. Most orthopedists focus primarily on the bony or skeletal system of the body; this is where they are most comfortable. Orthopedic surgeons may not enjoy the difficult reconstructive challenge of re-plantations and soft tissue reconstruction.

It is in this challenging area where I believe the plastic surgeon has an advantage. Our skill set goes from the purely orthopedic “getting-the-bones-together” processes to revisionary cosmetic procedures such as micro-vascular transplants and toe transplants from the foot to the thumb. It’s not uncommon for us to reattach a forearm severed nearest to the wrist. After the forearm has been reattached, the injury requires skin grafts, tendon transfers, and perhaps nerve transfers. These procedures require the specialized services a plastic surgeon.  We have cared for a number of patients within the last year in which we have had to do all of these things for one person, perhaps not all at once, but over the few months following their original injury.

Because we deal with the most complex plastic surgical cases on a daily basis, we are able to fine tune the skill sets required for  real complex reconstructions makes us even more adept at the cosmetic cases, because a lot of the skill sets are applicable to that. We are not just orthopedic hand surgeons; that’s just one of our specialties within the field of plastic surgery, which is very broad. We are proud of the fact that, as plastic surgeons, we truly operate from head to toe. We operate on all tissue types, from bone all the way to soft tissue.  In that sense, we are not just plastic or cosmetic surgeons.

The reason we refer to these procedures as plastic surgery is because basically we’re asked to either change or mold a body part or an area, either for reconstructive purposes or for cosmetic purposes. When you see the term plastic surgery, it includes everything from cleft lips to burns to hand surgery to complex cancer reconstruction; it’s a very broad field that literally extends from head to toe, including areas of cosmetic surgery, which can include facial surgery, breast surgery (augmentation, reduction, etc.) and body contouring (liposuction, tummy tuck, etc.) Providing the best of both worlds for our patients, we combine our skill sets to provide a comprehensive remedy in response to injuries that affect the bone and the tissue.

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