Cosmetic Surgery vs Plastic Surgery - How Are They Different?


People often tend to assume that the terms plastic and cosmetic surgeries refer to the same type of procedure. However, there are fine distinctions, between the two.



Plastic surgery

Plastic surgery is used to repair and reconstruct missing or damaged body parts or skin tissues. The main goal of plastic surgery is to restore the functionality of damaged body parts  to as close to normal as possible. Improving the appearance of the repaired site is only secondary.

Plastic surgery is used to repair:

  • Birth defects, such as a cleft lip and palate, webbed fingers, scars and birthmarks.
  • Areas of the body damaged by prior surgeries like the removal of cancerous tissue.
  • Serious cases of burns or other serious injuries.
Plastic surgery can often help improve a person's self confidence, body functionality and the overall quality of life.

Examples of plastic surgery procedures:

  • Breast reconstruction - The goal is to restore one or both breasts to near normal shape, size and symmetry following mastectomy, lumpectomy or congenital deformities.
  • Burn Repair Surgery - Acid attack victims or victims of fire accidents undergo plastic surgery for burn treatment. The aim of the surgery is to repair burnt and damaged skin and restore its normal functionality.
  • Congenital defect repair -  Cleft palate and cleft lip malformations, webbed fingers, malformations of the ears etc are repaired through plastic surgery.
  • Repair of arms or leg defects
  • Hand surgery - When your hand has undergone severe trauma, plastic surgeons may perform hand surgery for restoring hand and finger function. They also try to make the hand look as normal as possible.
  • Scar revision surgery - It aims at minimizing a scar so that it is less obvious and improving skin condition.

Cosmetic surgery

Cosmetic surgery comes under the umbrella of plastic surgery. However the main difference is that the goal of cosmetic surgery is enhancing appearance through surgical and medical techniques. While plastic surgery may be an essential treatment procedure, cosmetic surgery is purely elective as it focuses on improving appearance rather than restoring functionality.

Here are a few categories of cosmetic surgery and their examples:

  • Facial Contouring - These are procedures which help in attaining sharp facial features. Contouring can be performed for the forehead, eyebrows, nose, cheeks, lips, chin and jawline.
  • Facial Rejuvenation or face surgery- These are surgical options for restoring a youthful appearance to the face. Face lifts, eye lifts and neck lifts are common rejuvenation procedures falling under face surgery.
  • Body Contouring - Tummy tucks or liposuction are some of the common body contouring procedures in which excess fat is removed thereby improving body image.
  • Skin Rejuvenation - In these procedures various fillers are injected into the skin to smoothen wrinkles and mask natural effects of aging. BOTOX and certain laser treatments are examples.
  • Breast enhancement or augmentation - This is the most popular cosmetic procedure. Implants are used to enhance the size and shape of breasts.

If you decide to go for a cosmetic procedure, make sure to approach an experienced surgeon. Google for ‘plastic surgeon near me’ to find the best surgeons in your area or log on to Medtravels to identify the best in the field.

Summary
When choosing to go for a plastic surgery procedure, a clear understanding of indications, techniques, and complications is important to ensure safe and successful outcomes.

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