Plastic surgery gets a bad reputation. Whether its nose jobs for Hollywood’s young elite, or cosmetic breast implants for the Real Housewives of Orange County, the media often obscures what plastic surgery can do for patients in need of reconstructive surgeries. From repairing skin with severe burns to fixing birth defects like clef palettes, the procedure can greatly improve the lives of those with physical medical ailments.
Dr. Peter Rubin, UPMC Endowed Professor and Chair of Plastic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, says plastic surgery is sensationalized when patients are portrayed as caricatures in the media.
“Most plastic surgeons who are performing cosmetic surgery in their practice are going to favor a more natural look that helps our patients look more rejuvenated and more rested,” Dr. Rubin says.
He explains the practice of plastic surgery is rooted in ancient times when medical professionals in India used tissue flaps to repair severed noses. During World War I, plastic surgery became increasingly popular with the need to compensate for soldier’s lost limbs and burnt skin.
While some of these historical techniques are still practiced today, Rubin says the field is forever changing and improving as anatomical discoveries and technological advancements are made.
“It is a very dynamic and innovative field,” Rubin says. “I was really attracted to the creativity, the innovation in the field, and the wonderful blend of artistry with science.”
A worldwide leader in the field of plastic surgery, the University of Pittsburgh Medical School encompasses what Rubin describes as a tradition of excellence spanning over 70 years. He says the combination of commitment to clinical care, education, and cutting-edge research is what makes Pitt Medical School a top-tier institution for plastic surgery.
“We attract the best and the brightest to come and train in our programs and be part of our faculty,” Dr. Rubin says.
For a plastic surgeon, Dr. Rubin says an integral part of the job is to advise patients when surgery is favorable, and what surgery best fits their needs.
“The real key is the discussions that plastic surgeons have with their patients prior to the procedure to set expectations,” Dr. Rubin says.
When choosing a plastic surgeon, Dr. Rubin advises that potential patients pay close attention to a surgeon’s qualifications and certifications, making sure to first consult a primary care physician for recommendations.
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