Consider plastic surgery. What comes to mind? Probably images of women with breast implants, or maybe Michael Jackson's ever-changing looks.
Many people use the terms "plastic surgery" and "cosmetic surgery" interchangeably -- when we do that, however, we're forgetting about another type of plastic surgery: reconstructive surgery. There's a difference here because it's not all about bigger breasts and tummy tucks. Common cosmetic surgeries include procedures such as breast enlargement, liposuction, face-lifts and rhinoplasty (nose jobs), and there were about 12.5 million performed in 2009 [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons]. Reconstructive surgeries are performed to correct abnormalities caused by congenital defects and damage caused by major trauma as well as disease, infection and tumors. Reconstructive surgery is plastic surgery that can improve how the body functions, not solely how it looks.
In 2009, 5.2 million reconstructive procedures were performed in the U.S., with tumor removal, laceration repair, scar revision, hand surgery and maxillofacial surgery rounding out the top five [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons]. Let's look at these and other common post-trauma reconstructive surgeries, beginning with breast reduction.