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What’s the Difference Between Cosmetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery?

When someone thinks of plastic surgery, they likely think of elective cosmetic surgery. That’s because plastic surgery in general has become one of the most popular medical procedures performed in the U.S. As new technologies and techniques are introduced, plastic surgery has been used to repair, rebuild, or improve areas that have been altered or damaged by injury, birth defects, disease, or aging.

Let’s take a closer look at the two types of plastic surgery.

Cosmetic Plastic Surgery

Also known as elective surgery, cosmetic surgery is intended to enhance your body’s overall aesthetic and cosmetic appearance. It usually involves reshaping tissues or making adjustments to your anatomy to achieve a particular visual appeal and aesthetic. Cosmetic surgeries can be performed on various body parts to enhance their appearances, such as the stomach, breasts, nose, lips, and chin.

Reconstructive surgery restores confidence.

Since elective surgery isn’t medically necessary, it may not be covered by your health insurance plan. However, cosmetic surgery is often used to treat conditions that may have resulted from a previous medical condition. For instance, it may be used for visual enhancement if you’ve experienced a significant weight loss or had abdominal surgery.

Cosmetic surgery has helped many people with their self-esteem and body image. It can be used to help people who feel extremely self-conscious about their bodies to modify their appearance.

Reconstructive Plastic Surgery

Reconstructive plastic surgery is intended to treat deformities and help restore your body’s “normal” appearance. It may be used to address changes to or abnormalities your body has incurred as a result of a medical condition, trauma, or birth defect. In doing so, it also helps restore the functionality of that body part.

For example, reconstructive surgery can be used to address cleft lips and burn injuries. It may also be used to address certain body changes that are needed for proper treatment of a medical condition, such as breast reduction surgery for treating chronic back pain. This form of plastic surgery is typically considered to be medically necessary and is usually covered in full or in part by health insurance policies.

Woman after plastic surgery.

Are the Two Similar?

While the surgeries serve different purposes on the surface, there is an overlap. Both surgeries include an element of enhancing the appearance and restoring functionality. For instance, reconstructive surgery for a burn injury also allows the patient to get the most visually appealing results possible. Similarly, a tummy tuck or liposuction procedure is aimed at maintaining optimal functionality in addition to enhancing overall aesthetics.

At Houston Physicians’ Hospital, we provide reconstructive plastic surgeries to treat a range of issues caused by injury, defect, or disease. If you’ve undergone surgery or have been injured in an accident, you can find a plastic surgeon specialist who’s right for you on our website. Simply schedule your appointment directly with his or her office.

We also provide general surgery, physical therapy, and spine solutions.