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Reconstructive surgery can correct functional impairments that are caused by traumatic injuries, such as facial bone fractures and breaks; congenital abnormalities, such as cleft palates or cleft lips; developmental abnormalities; infections and diseases; burns; and cancer or tumors. The surgery is usually done to improve function, but it may also be used to recreate a “normal” appearance. Tumor removal, laceration repair, scar repair, hand surgery, and breast reduction surgery are the most common reconstructive procedures. Other examples are breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, cleft lip and palate surgery, contracture surgery for burn survivors, and creating a new outer ear when one is congenitally absent.

Scars and Contractures

A scar is a result of body’s natural wound healing process and can be caused by acne, burns, surgery, or any kind of accidental injury. Scars are actually tissues that replace the damaged skin or tissues after an injury. Although complete scar removal is not possible, but with the help of different types of surgery, scars can be healed considerably so that they are less visible. A common method is the surgical removal of the scar tissues. After removing the scar tissues, the area is closed with small stitches, some of which are absorbable. Nonabsorbable sutures are removed 7–10 days after the surgery, and the best result can be seen in a few weeks’ time. It is a simple procedure, done under local anesthesia without any major complications or side effects.

Skin grafting and flapping are also commonly used techniques. In these procedures, the scar tissues are removed and then a skin graft or flap is placed on the area. This technique is generally used for contractures or if the scar covers a large area. Keloid and hypertrophic scars are caused by excessive production of collagen. Keloid scars may increase in size over a period of time. On the other hand hypertrophic scars do not spread from the area of the initial wound and look like thick elevated lumps. If keloids are present over the ear lobe or are small in size, they can be treated with surgical cutting.

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