Reconstructive surgery is performed to correct facial and body abnormalities caused by birth defects, trauma, disease, or aging.

More than one million reconstructive surgeries are performed each year in the US. Usually, the goal of reconstructive surgery is to improve body function. However, reconstructive surgery may also be performed to create a more normal appearance and improve self-esteem (this may also be called cosmetic surgery). Abnormal structures of the body may be caused by:

  • Trauma
  • Infection
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Congenital defects
  • Disease
  • Tumors

Reconstructive Surgery Candidates

Generally, two types of patients have reconstructive surgery:

  • Patients with birth defects (such as cleft lip, craniofacial anomalies, hand deformities, or other)
  • Patients with developmental deformities (due to an accident, infection, disease, aging, or other)

Possible Complications Associated with Reconstructive Surgery

Any type of surgery carries some risk. Patients differ in their anatomy and their ability to heal. Some complications from surgery may include:

  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Difficulty in wound healing
  • Anesthesia problems
  • Surgery problems

Risk of complications may increase if a patient:

  • Smokes
  • Has connective-tissue damage
  • Has skin damage from radiation therapy
  • Has decreased circulation at the surgery site
  • Has HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
  • Has an impaired immune system
  • Has poor nutritional habits

Preparing for Reconstructive Surgery

The type of surgery will be determined by your physician(s) based on the following:

  • Age, overall health and medical history of the patient
  • Extent of deformity
  • Tolerance of specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disorder or deformity
  • Opinion or preference

Reconstructive surgery may require multiple procedures done in several stages.

There are a number of areas in plastic surgery that may be either or both reconstructive or cosmetic, depending on a patient's situation. For example, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) may be a procedure performed for cosmetic improvement, as well as to correct eyelids that are drooping severely and obscuring vision.

Contact Us

For more information about UM Division of Plastic Surgery or to make an appointment, please call 1-800-492-5538 or 410-328-2360 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 (physicians).