1st February 2013

What is the difference between plastic surgery, cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery?

Plastikos in Greek and Plasticus in Latin mean to mould or shape.  Plastic surgery therefore is surgery that moves the tissues to reshape them.  Reconstructive surgery is plastic surgery that rebuilds  repairs or reshapes tissue damaged by injury, cancer or that is congenitally deformed like a hair lip.  This type of reconstructive surgery not only moves and reshapes tissue but may have to rebuild tissue with grafts taken from elsewhere in the body.  Reconstructive plastic surgery is often associated with improving or restoring function as well as shape.  ENT surgeons for example perform plastic surgery of the septum called septoplasty or of the septum and nose called septorhinoplasty.  This surgery is performed after injury and will straighten a nose on the outside to restore appearance and on the inside to restore the breathing function.

Cosmetic surgery seeks to alter shape to enhance a patient’s physical appearance and to preserve function.  Generally cosmetic or aesthetic surgery is concerned with enhancing the shape of a part of the body that the majority of the population might consider was within the normal range even if not at the attractive end of the normal range.