What is Reconstructive Surgery?
As a subspecialty of general surgery, reconstructive surgery is concerned with the reconstruction of tissue forms and their functions through surgery; usually after tumor operations, severe accidents, or even to compensate for congenital malformations.
The generally most frequent interventions here include nerve transplants and tendon rearrangements.
In order to reconstruct defects, a whole range of flap plastics are available.
Here, flaps of skin or tissue are transplanted, and in more difficult and severe cases, even muscle or bone!
Microsurgery is always listed as the foundation of reconstructive surgery, as it involves connecting the finest vessels and nerves with the use of a surgical microscope.
Other notable options that Reconstructive Surgery uses to cover defects include 3D printing with biocompatible materials and bioprinting of tissue elements!
When is the medical service of reconstructive surgery necessary?
Generally, it can be said that Reconstructive Surgery becomes necessary when the form and function of the body needs to be re-articulated, therefore restored to some degree, to regain its former "normal" level or status.
This may be the case and desired due to an accident, cancer surgery, or congenital malformations.
When we speak of reconstructive surgeons, we are talking about specialists who work on the correction of skin and soft tissues, muscles, tendons and peripheral nerves, as well as bone and cartilage.
The focus here is mainly on restoring the functions of limbs and facial expressions.
However, the scope of work of reconstructive surgery goes even further:
Even severed limbs can be successfully reattached: For example, after accidents or cancer.
Even individual nerve fibers can be repaired by the surgeon, if necessary.
Even some time after an accident, for example, torn nerve cords can be sutured back together; thus enabling reconstruction.
For example, one of the standardized and most frequently performed procedures is breast reconstruction using the patient's own tissue after breast cancer surgery.
Common situations in which reconstructive surgery is indicated are:
- Trauma with tissue loss
- Congenital malformations
- Tissue loss resulting from tumor surgery
- Scar contractures
What is often forgotten is the proximity to aesthetic surgery, as the objective often includes and is fixated on creating visually pleasing results in addition to functional ones.
Tasks of a reconstructive surgeon
Since the medical specialty of reconstructive surgery, as already discussed, aims at the restoration of tissues and organs as a result of accidents, diseases, defects and injuries, the scope and expertise of specialized surgeons can be found here.
As a result of those accidents, bodily functions may be limited and/or the appearance of the affected person may be disfigured.
This can significantly affect the life and quality of life of the affected person.
The surgeon's task is to restore bodily functions and appearance to normal, thus reducing possible impairments to the affected person's quality of life.
In intensive detailed work, ligaments, muscles, tendons, bones and soft tissues are reconstructed in such a way that patients regain their functional ability.
The list of fields of application of a reconstructive surgeon is accordingly very long:
- Tissue reconstruction after tumor removal
- scar correction
- Treatment of fat distribution disorders and lymphedema
- Treatment of consequences of accidents
- Aesthetic and functional reconstructions of the face
- Reimplantation of severed limbs
- Relief of burns by skin grafts
- Breast reconstruction after cancer surgery
- Correction of male breast augmentation in adulthood
And many other areas!
Reconstructions are often microsurgical procedures, such as connecting blood vessels.
At the same time, as in many medical specialties, interdisciplinarity is crucial , close cooperation with dermatologists, oncologists, orthopedists , radiologists and specialists in other fields is a basic requirement for success.
Reconstructions in the area of extremities are connected with closures of soft tissue defects as by soft tissue coverings. At the same time, muscle units can be transplanted to restore function, or muscle functions can be redirected.
When talking about reconstruction in the area of more complicated bone injuries, complex bone and soft tissue reconstruction is required.
In addition to these areas, reconstructive surgery includes nerve restoration as well as reattachment of severed limbs.
Reconstructive Surgery at the Wiener Privatklinik