Why are breast augmentation and other types of cosmetic surgery often referred to as 'plastic surgery?' Though some think that this name originates from the use of synthetic breast implants – typically made either of silicone or of saline – in fact the real origins of the name have nothing to do with plastic at all. Although some cosmetic surgeries today do involve the insertion of synthetic materials such as plastic, in fact the term 'plastic surgery' predates plastic.
Plastikos - to mold or shape
The name for this type of surgery originates from 'plastikos,' a Greek word meaning 'to mold' or 'to shape.' When you consider the origin of the word 'plastic,' in fact this term describes the world of cosmetic surgery perfectly. Plastic surgery simply means surgery to mold or reshape the body, and that is the goal of cosmetic surgeons.
The use of the term 'plastic surgery' to describe surgery performed for aesthetic reasons dates back several centuries. During the 1800s, the first 'plastic surgery' techniques were perfected on soldiers who had been injured in battle. As doctors began to realize the full potential of this new type of surgery, they began performing cosmetic surgeries on those who wanted the procedure for fully aesthetic reasons, rather than to reconstruct or repair an appearance damaged by injuries.
Natural results despite the moniker
Today, the term 'plastic surgery' has taken on yet another meaning. With some patients undergoing multiple rounds of cosmetic surgery, some of which leaves them unable to form natural facial expressions, one might say that too much plastic surgery leaves patients "looking like plastic." Still, even with the most natural results possible, cosmetic surgery is still known as 'plastic surgery' because of its amazing ability to sculpt the body.
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