What does a Pediatric Plastic Surgeon do?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2018
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The pediatric plastic surgeon is a highly trained doctor who has spent time after medical school learning surgery and then plastic surgery with a focus on pediatrics. These specialists principally perform reconstructive and/or cosmetic surgical techniques on children. Reconstructive surgery or surgical techniques to repair defects are required on many different areas of the body, and significant learning is needed to be a master in this medical specialty.

There are many birth defects that might be repaired by a pediatric plastic surgeon. These could include defects of the palate like cleft palate, that require repair so a child can have normal oral and speech development. Sometimes children are born with deformities in the limbs, the chest or breast, the feet or hands, or the ears. Many of these conditions, when reparable, would be repaired by a pediatric plastic surgeon. Other conditions for which a plastic surgeon might be required include those that result in defects of the genitals. Alternately these surgeons might work on teams and thereafter to help repair conditions associated with conjoined twins.

There are other conditions that may arise in childhood. Sometimes large growths or skin lesions occur that require removal. Occasionally abnormal growth due to genetic conditions may result in dramatic changes in appearance or in function and surgeons could correct these changes.


Probably the one job a pediatric plastic surgeon doesn’t want is repairing the damage that may be caused by a child’s severe injury. On the other hand, it is often these surgeons who can help the most in restoring normal looks, appearance or function to parts of the body that have been injured or burned. Though surgeons may not be able to erase trauma resulting from an injury, they may certainly be able to minimize the effects of trauma on a child’s life that would be caused by dramatic changes in appearance.

In pediatric plastic surgery, emphasis may be most on normalizing appearance or fixing dramatic defects that affect function. There is less emphasis on cosmetically improving appearance when no strong medical reason exists to change things. However, some surgeons may perform cosmetic surgery for children when they feel that such a surgery would improve the self-esteem or sense of worth of a child. Some surgeries performed in this area could include changes to the nose or face, or some other area of the body that is perceived as inadequate.

Pediatric plastic surgeons may maintain a practice in the community and hold privileges to perform surgery at a local hospital, or they may work in hospitals as part of the staff, and have a clinic in which they meet patients and assess needs. Many children’s hospitals now have extensive pediatric plastic surgery departments, where some of the best surgeons work.



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