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Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery Overview

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The terms plastic surgery, cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery are often used interchangeably in the medical community. Despite the fact that they are all in the field of medical science attempting to improve the health of a person’s body, they vary from one another in a number of ways. Cosmetic, reconstructive, and plastic surgeons may require different qualifications and expertise. The differences are as follows:

Reconstructive Surgery

Reconstructive surgeries, as the name implies, aim to rebuild parts of the body that have been damaged by trauma, injury, infection, tumors, or illness. The objective is usually to restore the bodily part’s functionality and appearance to what it was before the damage. As a result, reconstructive surgeries often have an aesthetic component, and patients should talk with their physicians about the visual results they anticipate.

Examples of common reconstructive surgery include:

  • Birthmark treatment or removal.
  • Breast reduction.
  • Breast restoration (mastectomy).
  • Cleft lip and palate repair.
  • Defect or deformity repairs for head and neck cancer, skin cancer, burns etc.
  • Hand treatment for bone, nerve, blood vessel, joint, soft tissue, or tendon problems.
  • Reattachment of a body part (microsurgical replantation) and tissue transfers.
  • Craniofacial deformities: Repair of abnormalities of the face or skull
  • Treatment for traumatic facial and extremity deformities

Birth deformities may also be corrected via reconstructive surgery. In this scenario, the objective is to restore normal function and appearance to damaged bodily components. Cleft lip and palate repair and craniofacial surgery are examples of this kind of treatment.

Reconstructive surgery may also be performed after a patient has recovered from a disease or condition. Patients who have lost a large amount of weight may undergo reconstructive treatment to remove extra skin or tissue. For example, one portion of the body may be treated to enhance the health of another. For instance, some women get breast reductions in order to alleviate lower back pain.

Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is performed to enhance the look of one or more of the patient’s physical features for aesthetic purposes. While the primary aims of cosmetic surgery are primarily aesthetic, the advantages of the procedure may also improve the patient’s well-being by increasing self-esteem and confidence. Many people undergo cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance and overall well-being. Some common cosmetic procedures include:

  • Body contouring surgery
  • Breast augmentation
  • Breast lift (Mastopexy)
  • Buttock augmentation
  • Ear setback surgery (Otoplasty)
  • Eyelid lift (blepharoplasty)
  • Facelift (Rhytidectomy)
  • Fat removal (Liposuction)
  • Laser procedures, for example, the removal of age spots, skin rejuvenation, spider veins, unwanted hair and tattoos.
  • Nose services (Rhinoplasty)
  • Skin pigmentation treatment
  • Treatment of Spider Veins
  • Tummy tuck (Abdominoplasty)

Non-surgical cosmetic procedures

Some common non-surgical cosmetic procedures include:

  • Botulinum toxin “Botox” injections.
  • Injectable fillers.
  • Noninvasive treatments, peels and skin care products.

Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is a medical specialty that specializes in the repair of facial and bodily deformities caused by birth defects, trauma, burns, and illness. Plastic surgery is meant to address aspects of the body that are malfunctioning and is, by definition, reconstructive in nature. While many plastic surgeons opt to pursue extra training to conduct cosmetic surgery in addition to reconstructive plastic surgery, their surgical training is based on reconstructive plastic surgery. Plastic surgery procedures include:

  • Breast Reconstruction
  • Burn Repair Surgery
  • Congenital Defect Repair: Cleft Palate, Extremity Defect Repair.
  • Hand Surgery
  • Lower Extremity Reconstruction.
  • Scar Revision Surgery

Techniques in Plastic Surgery

The following are some of the techniques used in plastic surgery:

Skin flap surgery: Is a procedure in which a portion of healthy tissue is transplanted from one region of the body to another, along with the blood vessels that keep it alive. It is termed “flap surgery” because the healthy tissue is normally left partly connected to the body while it is transferred.

Skin grafts: Is a procedure in which healthy skin from an undamaged part of the body is taken and used to replace missing or damaged skin.

Tissue expansion: Stretching the surrounding tissue allows the body to “generate” more skin that may be used to assist in the repair of the given region.

Fat transfer or grafting: Is a technique in which fat is taken from one region and re-implanted in another, often to address unevenness.

Vacuum closure: Is an approach in which suction is used to remove fluid from an open wound in order to enhance healing process.

Positive Effects of the Procedures

  • Improvement in self-confidence.
  • Enhanced physical wellbeing.
  • Improved mental wellbeing.

Risks and Complications of the Procedures

Some of the common cosmetic and reconstructive surgery-related risks include:

  • Blood clots.
  • Fatigue (tiredness).
  • Healing problems.
  • Problems with anesthesia.
  • Infection
  • Scarring

Does Health Insurance Cover the Procedures?

When reconstructive surgery is deemed medically necessary, it is typically covered by private health insurance plans as long as there is a need for the procedure. Reconstructive and cosmetic surgery are often performed together in certain treatments such as abdominoplasty (abdominal surgery), blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), breast reductions, and post-weight-loss surgery. You may also be able to use Public or private health insurance in these situations, depending on your policy. Cosmetic surgery is often not covered by public or private health insurance since it is performed only for the purpose of improving one’s appearance without regard to medical need.


As plastic and cosmetic surgery have grown in popularity, so has the number of providers who cover it. This way, you can compare, evaluate, and shortlist different providers and plans to find the best deal. Choose a plastic surgeon who is certified by the Board of Plastic Surgery like Dr. Moser who is also the Medical Director of AesthetiCare’s Med Spa. A board-certified plastic surgeon has graduated from a recognized medical school and has successfully completed 5 years of post-graduate training in surgery. To become board-certified, Cosmetic and reconstructive surgeons must practice for two years and pass thorough written and oral tests. Board certification is valid for ten years.

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