What is the Difference Between Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgery?

What is the Difference Between Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the terms “plastic surgery”, “cosmetic surgery”, and “reconstructive surgery.” Many people use these terms interchangeably, but there is a big distinction between them. In this blog post, we will define each type of surgery and list some procedures that fall into each category. We will also discuss certain factors that set reconstructive surgery apart from cosmetic surgery. Keep reading to learn more!

What is Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery is defined as a surgical specialty dedicated to reconstruction of facial and body defects due to birth disorders, trauma, burns, and disease. Plastic surgery is intended to correct functional impairments and improve appearance. As such, it can fall into two main categories: cosmetic and reconstructive.

Cosmetic Surgery

before and after cosmetic nose surgery

Cosmetic surgery is performed to reshape normal structures of the body in order to improve appearance and self-esteem. It is important to note that cosmetic surgery is elective and focuses on aesthetics, which means that it is not medically necessary. As such, cosmetic surgery is not usually covered by insurance.

Some common examples of cosmetic surgery procedures include:

  • Breast augmentation
  • Liposuction
  • Rhinoplasty (nose job)
  • Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery)
  • Otoplasty or Ear Pinning
  • Face and neck lifts

Reconstructive Surgery

before and after reconstructive nose surgery

Reconstructive surgery is performed on abnormal structures of the body, caused by birth defects, trauma, burns, and/or disease. Reconstructive surgery seeks to improve and/or restore the normal function and appearance of a particular body part. Unlike cosmetic surgery, reconstructive surgery is often covered by health insurance because it is medically necessary.

Some common examples of reconstructive surgery procedures include:

  • Breast reconstruction after mastectomy
  • Hand reconstructions
  • Scar revision surgery
  • Cleft lip and palate repair
  • Craniofacial surgery
  • Facial reconstructive surgery after Moh’s surgery

Factors that Set Reconstructive Surgery Apart from Cosmetic Surgery

While plastic surgeons are trained to perform reconstructive and cosmetic surgical procedures, there are some important factors that set reconstructive surgery apart from cosmetic surgery.

First and foremost, reconstructive surgery is performed to correct functional impairments and improve appearance, while cosmetic surgery is solely performed for aesthetic purposes. Secondly, reconstructive surgery is usually covered by health insurance, while cosmetic surgery is not.

Finally, plastic surgeons typically complete a residency in plastic surgery after completing medical school, while cosmetic surgeons do not necessarily complete a residency in plastic surgery. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, “In the U.S., a physician advertising as a “cosmetic surgeon” is not required to complete formal plastic surgery training in an accredited program”. This is why it is important to ensure that your plastic surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

In Conclusion

In this blog, we have discussed the difference between plastic surgery, cosmetic surgery, and reconstructive surgery. We defined each type of surgery and listed some procedures that fall into each category. We also discussed certain factors that set reconstructive surgery apart from cosmetic surgery.

We hope that this blog post has helped to clear up some of the confusion surrounding these terms. If you have any further questions, or if you are interested in learning more about reconstructive or cosmetic surgery, please contact us today! We would be more than happy to answer any of your questions.

Lee A. Kleiman

Dr. Lee A. Kleiman is a double board certified ENT & plastic surgeon at Anne Arundel ENT in Annapolis, Maryland known for his superior clinical outcomes in all Surgical and Non-Surgical ENT, specializing in Sinus Care, Voice and Swallowing, Rhinoplasty and Revision Rhinoplasty, and Facelifts and Non-surgical Aesthetic. He also continues to attend conferences internationally and nationally to keep abreast of the latest treatments and technology.