Like many similar terms, cosmetic and plastic surgery are often used interchangeably. This has led to the mistaken assumption over the years that they’re the same thing. Although they are closely related, these two specialties require different training and have different goals.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery clearly defines cosmetic surgery as “entirely focused on enhancing a patient’s appearance. Improving symmetry, proportion and aesthetic appeal are the primary goals.”
So, the goal of cosmetic surgery is to improve the appearance of the patient in a variety of ways depending on the situation. This could mean improving symmetry, proportion, and the size or shape of different body parts and facial features. Sometimes, the surgery can also help with function or health, but the primary purpose is generally aesthetic. Cosmetic surgery is almost always elective and rarely covered by insurance for this reason. Some examples of cosmetic surgery include:
- Breast augmentation
- Breast reduction
- Rhinoplasty (nose job)
- Chin or cheek enhancements
- Blepharoplasty (eyelid-lift)
- Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
Whereas the goal of cosmetic surgery is purely aesthetic, plastic surgery corrects dysfunction and defects due to birth disorders, accidents and injuries.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons defines the goals of reconstructive, or plastic, surgery as “to treat structures of the body affected aesthetically or functionally by congenital defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma, infection, tumors or disease. It is generally done to improve function and ability, but may also be performed to achieve a more typical appearance of the affected structure.”
- Some examples of plastic or reconstructive surgery include:
- Cleft lip and palate repairs
- Congenital facial deformity repair
- Burn and scar treatment using skin grafts
- Breast reconstruction
To summarize, the main difference between plastic and cosmetic surgery is the goal of the procedure. If you’re interested in learning more about cosmetic surgery and the different options you have for improving your appearance, call us today at the Cosmetic Surgical Arts Center at 425-276-7103.