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The Difference between Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery

The Difference between Plastic and Cosmetic SurgerySo many people use the words “plastic surgery” and “cosmetic surgery” interchangeably that they are sometimes thought to be the same. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While it may not seem like a big deal, for people looking to get one of these procedures done, the last thing needed is confusion.


If you are thinking about having plastic or cosmetic surgery done, it helps to know what you’re talking about. By knowing which procedures fall under which categories, you can keep yourself safe from gross mistakes or confusion.


Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is also known as reconstructive surgery. This type of surgery involves fixing a body part or facial feature that is abnormal and reconstructing it to appear normal. Often a person seeks reconstructive surgery due to a malformation that they would like to have corrected. Others need plastic surgery because of health complications due to the abnormal body part of facial feature.


Repairing a cleft lip, broken nose or birth defect falls under the category of plastic surgery. Breast augmentation is usually put under the category of cosmetic surgery, but when it comes to breast cancer, this particular procedure is more accurately placed under the plastic surgery category. Unlike cosmetic surgery, breast augmentation is needed to reconstruct the shape of the breast, nipple or areole after the cancer has been removed, effectively turning an abnormal structure of the body into a normal looking structure.


Rhinoplasty is one of the surgeries than can be labeled either plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery, depending on the reason for the operation.


Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery differs from plastic/reconstructive surgery because the purpose of this procedure is to take a normal body structure and improve it to make it look better and improve the person’s self-esteem. Cosmetic surgery is not needed due to a deformity or health issue - the person simply wants to appear more attractive in most cases. Breast implants and breast reductions are seen as a cosmetic surgery procedure because the surgeon is enhancing the already normal body structure. Anti-aging procedures such as facelifts, tummy tucks, and hair replacement treatments are also common cosmetic procedures.


When choosing a plastic surgeon for either reconstructive or cosmetic surgery, make sure he/she is licensed and qualified. Only work with a surgeon who specializes in the particular type of surgery you’re hoping to get. Always ask plenty of questions and check the surgeon’s references. Ask for before and after pictures of past clients. If you aren’t comfortable with the surgeon for any reason or are not happy with the before and after photos, move on to the next person. Never settle for just anyone when it comes to getting reconstructive or cosmetic surgery. Always put your safety first.


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