Cosmetic Surgery and Reconstructive Surgery: What Makes Them Similar?

Posted on June 12, 2018 by Cynthia M. Poulos, M.D.

You must have heard of the term ‘Plastic Surgery’. It originated from the Greek word – plastikos – meaning to shape or mold.

The plastic surgery field is broken down into two major categories – cosmetic procedures and reconstructive procedures.

Let’s discuss each of them separately.

Cosmetic Plastic Surgery

This category of plastic surgery is done to enhance the overall cosmetic appearance simply by adjusting and reshaping normal anatomy, making it more appealing visually.

Some of the popular examples of cosmetic surgery include breast lift, breast augmentation, and facelift.

Reconstructive Surgery

This category of plastic surgery is performed to fully restore the normal appearance as well as function. It is used to correct various deformities formed by birth defects, medical conditions or trauma including cancer.

Some of the famous examples of reconstructive surgery include palate repair and cleft lip, breast reconstruction following mastectomy or lumpectomy for breast cancer and surgeries after burn injuries.

How are both of these surgical procedures same?

Well, in reality, there is significant overlap between cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery as they share several similar underlying principles.

Regardless which surgery is being performed, the end result must always have maximizing cosmetic results – as much as possible. That is why it is important for patients to properly discuss the expected cosmetic results and to work with only the most reputed and experienced professionals.

The lines between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery get more blurred when it comes down to insurance coverage. Some conditions can be considered either cosmetic or reconstructive depending on the specific situation of the patient.

For instance, rhinoplasty is often performed to improve the nose appearance but it may also be performed to restore the natural or normal nasal breathing as well as nasal appearance after facing a bad nasal fracture.