PLASTIC OR RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY : surgery concerned with the restoration, reconstruction, correction, or improvement in the shape and appearance of body structures that are defective, damaged, or misshapen by injury, disease, or growth and development. The ability to create new, living jawbone; to rebuild breasts without destroying abdominal muscles; and to restore function to limbs or fingers damaged by accident hinges on the relatively newfound ability of doctors to stitch together veins and arteries whose diameters are about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen with microsurgery. Most people have heard the term microsurgery when a person loses a finger in an accident and the severed digit is placed in an ice-filled bag and rushed to the hospital along with the patient. A surgeon in Boston started experimenting with replacing and restoring function to severed fingers in the 1950s. But it wasn't until the 1980s that researchers began to perfect the optics and the tools that allow doctors to see and stitch together thread-thin vessels. Doctors also increased their understanding of how tissue lives and receives blood. Material developed to suture the vessels is now one-half the diameter of a strand of human hair Web resources :
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