Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery: What is the Difference?

Updated on July 30, 2018

These two forms of surgery have for the longest time been confused:  cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. While to some they are self-explanatory and they couldn’t be more different, others just can’t seem to tell them apart. Matter of fact, a few procedures have been classified as cosmetic while it is clear that they fall under the former category, unfortunately leaving them out of the scope of the ordinary medical cover.

What is Cosmetic Surgery?

As a Cosmetic Consultant in Canada will tell you, cosmetic surgery is concerned with enhancing a patient’s appearance. It concerns itself with improving esthetics and symmetry, and so no cosmetic surgery is meant to alter how a part of your body works. It only makes it more appealing. Cosmetic surgery is not usually necessary – in that it is not a matter of life and death but it does improve one’s self esteem. Procedures include breast augmentation, facial contouring, body contouring, and facial rejuvenation.

Surgeries that are not necessarily vital for a patient to stay in good health are called elective, and they are not usually an emergency. They can be scheduled to be performed at the patient’s convenience unlike non-elective surgeries that are usually an emergency.

Reconstructive Surgery

Reconstructive surgery does what cosmetic surgery won’t do. It improves the function of a defective part of the body and reconstructs it after trauma. Some reconstructive procedures are considered cosmetic, but they are not as they improve one’s heath.

Overly large breasts, for example, may result in lower back pain and the only solution would be reduction which some may classify as plastic surgery. Some popular forms of reconstructive surgery include breast reduction, scar revision, cleft lip and palate, ear reconstruction, and ear deformities among others.

Plastic Surgery

This category is closely related to cosmetic surgery. It specializes on improving defects and trauma from birth or accidents. The only minor detail here is that this form of surgery, while necessary, is not necessarily a matter of life and death. It improves a person’s appearance but they could live with those defects if they didn’t have the means for the procedure.

Practices are Different

These two disciplines of medicine are different and so they will require a different set of specialists. A cosmetic surgeon requires their unique practicing certificate and follows the guides set by their profession while reconstructive surgery experts have their unique guide. Of course, most cosmetic surgeon earn much more than their counterparts in other disciplines as the trend has gained momentum over the years.

Preparing for Either of these Procedures

Preoperative care is as vital as the procedure and beyond. The patient is prepared for the surgery weeks in advance where they are required to quit smoking in some cases and lose weight in others – depending on the procedure.

After the procedure, the patient is taken into 24-hour care to ensure that they heal as required. The care at this point is also as critical as the patient is vulnerable to other infections.

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