Cosmetic, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – What’s the Difference?

The terms cosmetic and plastic surgery are often used interchangeably. However, did you know there is a difference between the two?


When you’re looking to make changes to your body, you have three options. You can opt for cosmetic, plastic or reconstructive surgery. Understanding the differences between them is essential if you want to make sure you’re choosing the right treatment.


Here, you’ll discover what cosmetic, plastic and reconstructive surgery are and what the differences are between them.


Cosmetic versus Plastic Surgery


Cosmetic surgery relates to making changes to the appearance purely for aesthetic reasons. That is, the procedure doesn’t necessarily need to be done; it is more of a patient preference.


Plastic surgery on the other hand, aims to rebuild and correct functional issues. It is often carried out on victims of trauma, those with birth defects and on burn patients. While plastic surgery can also enhance the appearance, its main purpose is to repair and reconstruct damage to the face or body. 


A couple of common plastic surgery procedures include skin grafts and birthmark removal. Cosmetic surgery procedures include breast augmentation, rhinoplasty and liposuction.


What about Reconstructive Surgery?


Reconstructive surgery is pretty much the same as plastic surgery. It could be reconstructive breast surgery carried out on recovered cancer patients, or a reconstructive rhinoplasty on patients who have suffered damage to the nose caused by a trauma.


It delivers the same benefits as plastic surgery, helping patients to regain control over their lives.


The Training and Skill of Cosmetic versus Plastic Surgeons


As cosmetic and plastic surgery procedures are very different, so too is the training the surgeons receive. Both cosmetic and plastic surgeons undertake the same type of training to start with. This includes going to medical school, becoming board certified and attending post-residency training in their chosen fields. However, after that, plastic surgeons can choose whether to undertake additional training in cosmetic surgery.


This means that there are plastic surgeons out there who also offer cosmetic procedures. This is partly where some of the confusion comes from. However, most tend to specialize either in cosmetic or plastic surgery, rather than a combination of the two.


The Importance of Choosing the Right Surgeon


When you are thinking of going under the knife, it’s crucial to know which type of surgeon you need to see. Every procedure comes with some level of risk, even the non-surgical options. So, having the right surgeon is important for reducing these risks.


As surgeons can take a number of specialized routes, you’ll want to find one who specializes in the type of surgery you want. Check how many of the procedures they have carried out and their level of experience in the field.


Although cosmetic and plastic surgery are often mistaken for the same thing, there are notable differences. If you want to improve the aesthetics of the face or body, you’ll need a cosmetic surgeon. If you are looking to correct a birth defect or disfigurement, a plastic surgeon can help.   

Categories: Cosmetic Surgery