How Cosmetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Differ

What do you think of when you hear the words “cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery”?

Chances are, you think that cosmetic is for those who want to get rid of wrinkles or enhance a body part, while reconstructive is more needful.

That’s not entirely incorrect. However, there are plenty of occasions where elective cosmetic surgery can be as life changing as reconstructive.

We’ll break them down here.

Cosmetic Surgery

Yes. As the name implies, the aim of cosmetic surgery is to enhance one’s appearance by reshaping different parts of the anatomy to make them more visually appealing.

Cosmetic plastic surgery is performed on all areas of the body, head, and neck. It treats areas that already function properly. Even so, there are many cosmetic surgeries that also improve function. For example, a rhinoplasty procedure (nose job) can help to improve breathing while also enhancing the appearance of the nose.

A vast array of procedures fall under the cosmetic surgery umbrella. Breast augmentation, reduction, and lift all fall into this category. So do procedures that aim to contour or rejuvenate the face, including rhinoplasty, facelift, eyelid lift, neck lift, and brow lift. A tummy tuck, liposuction, and gynecomastia repair, as well as skin rejuvenation procedures such as laser resurfacing, botox, and filler treatments are all considered cosmetic procedures.

Reconstructive Surgery

Cosmetic and reconstructive surgery differ in that the latter is considered medically necessary.

The objective of reconstructive surgery is to both improve appearance and restore function of the targeted area(s). It aims to correct deformities caused by trauma, disease, or birth defects. Two of the most common types of procedures are breast reconstruction following a lumpectomy or mastectomy, as well as reconstructive surgery after burn injuries.

Other examples include cleft lip and palate repair, extremity defect repair, lower extremity reconstruction, scar revision, and hand surgery.

Is There An Overlap?

Regardless of whether it’s cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, the underlying surgical principles are the same. And ultimately, the goal is to maximize the cosmetic result as much as possible. So there’s really quite a significant overlap between these two surgeries.

The basis of surgical training for plastic surgeons is of the reconstructive variety – though many go on to complete additional training to perform cosmetic surgery. The two are so closely interconnected that in 1999, the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons changed its name to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

The aim was to communicate the message that there’s virtually no difference between plastic and reconstructive surgeons.

The Board-Certified Difference

A plastic surgeon with the “board-certified” designation indicates an advanced level of training and experience.

Board-certified surgeons are required to complete one of two routes of training. They either partake in an integrated residency training that combines three years of general surgery and three years of plastic surgery or

an independent, five-year residency program in general surgery which is then followed by the three-year plastic surgery residency program.

So it’s in a patient’s best interest to insist on a board-certified plastic surgeon.

Cosmetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Changes Lives

Both cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery procedures have the ability to improve one’s health and well-being. So if you feel that you could benefit from either of these, contact us today.

No matter which one might be right for you, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss the anticipated result with your surgeon who will ensure that appropriate expectations are met.