The popular image of plastic surgery, as shown on the overload of extreme makeover shows on TV at the moment, is of a wealthy Cosmetic Surgeon who mainly spends their days performing Facelifts and Breast Augmentations. This is not, however, the real picture of many working Surgeons in the UK and definitely not what attracted me to the speciality in the first place. Plastic Surgery is a very difficult specialty to gain entry to and requires a long period of training.
I first became inspired to pursue this career after a talk from a group of Plastic Surgeons while I was in medical school. They showed us the breadth and variety of surgery they did and what I considered to be miracles such as reattaching fingers and saving people from life threatening burns.
There simply is no other branch of surgery that tackles the vast array of problems and body regions that plastic surgeons do. I have been privileged to operate on all ages from a new-born to a 96 year old. I have been able to perform surgery in all areas of the body; hands, faces, breasts, chest walls, feet and everything in between.
Plastic Surgeons are often called upon to deal with the most challenging problems that other surgeons cannot solve. This can make for both very interesting and very stressful days. However, it is rarely boring and always calls upon using your brains to think of creative solutions and not just perform the same operation day after day. It is because of this training and constant self-criticism and desire to improve patient’s lives that Plastic Surgeons make the best Cosmetic Surgeons in my mind.
I am proud to be part of a specialty that has led the way in frontiers such as face transplants and hand transplants and continues to look at ways that surgery can develop and innovate in order to solve the most difficult surgical problems and benefitting patients’ bodies and minds and ultimately vastly improve their quality of life.
Plastic Surgery is about restoring the form and function of the body and not just allowing patients to survive but providing and restoring a real quality of life and self-confidence to patients who have been injured through a trauma such as a fire or who are born with a deformity or through radical cancer surgery require a reconstruction eg a breast mastopexy. It is a real honour to be part of it and a challenge every day to live up to the high standards set by the pioneers of the discipline. I have been fortunate enough to travel the world and train with truly inspiring figures who have pushed me to my limits and beyond. The title of Plastic Surgeon is hard to earn but it is worth it if you love surgery.
Cosmetic surgery is just one facet to our work but it is a very demanding one in which we are required to call upon all of our training and skills to achieve rejuvenation and harmonious changes in a patient to look naturally beautiful and to achieve their aesthetic goals.
If you are considering a cosmetic procedure, make ensure that your research the operation, the hospital and your surgeon thoroughly before booking an appointment and to come with some questions and pictures of the look you are trying to achieve so that you and your surgeon can achieve the best results for YOU. Ensure they are registered with BAAPS or BAPRAS who are the professional bodies in the UK that ensure surgeons keep to the highest standards.
Do not be pressured into any procedure.
And enjoy your cosmetic surgery journey!
Mr Gerard Lambe MD, FRCS (Plast)
Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Breast Surgeon