Why plastic surgery is used 

Plastic surgery can be used to correct defects present from birth or to repair skin and tissue damage caused by disease, illness or injury later in life.

It can also improve a person’s confidence, self-esteem and overall quality of life.

There are many different situations where plastic surgery may be needed, and a variety of surgical procedures can be used. Some of the most common reasons why it's carried out are outlined below.

Conditions present from birth

Plastic surgery can be used to correct defects present at birth (congenital defects), including:

  • cleft lip and palate – a birth defect affecting the top lip and the roof of the mouth (palate)
  • birthmarks, including port wine stains and haemangiomas – these are caused by problems with blood vessels
  • craniosynostosis – a rare problem with the skull that causes a baby to be born with an abnormally shaped head
  • hypospadias – the opening of the urethra in boys (the tube that carries urine out of the body) is on the underside of the penis
  • ear problems – such as very small or absent ears (microtia)
  • hand problems – such as having webbed fingers or too many or too few fingers

Conditions that develop later in life

Plastic surgery can also be used to repair and reconstruct damaged tissue caused by problems that develop later in life (acquired problems), such as:

Page last reviewed: 08/04/2015

Next review due: 08/04/2017