The Different Types of Plastic Surgery

Cosmetic and Non-Cosmetic Plastic Surgery

The Different Types of Plastic SurgeryThe terms “cosmetic surgery” and “plastic surgery” often get used interchangeably, typically to refer to medical procedures primarily or exclusively used to enhance physical appearance. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, however, defines these procedures differently, identifying different objectives. Let’s get a clearer picture of the distinctions between the two medical operations.

What Is Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery focuses on the reconstruction of bodily defects, such as scars or disfigurement, often those resulting from traumatic injury but also those associated with birth defects and illnesses. While the goal of plastic surgery is often partially to enhance a person’s aesthetic appearance, plastic surgery begins with the assumption that the patient has suffered some injury or illness that makes their appearance abnormal. The goal of plastic surgery may also be to improve functional skills. For example, the repair of a cleft palate can enhance the patient’s ability to speak and communicate.

Common types of plastic surgery procedures include:

  • Burn repair surgery, including burn debridement, skin grafts, and reconstructive surgery
  • Breast reconstruction, typically after a cancer-related mastectomy
  • Scar revision or removal
  • Hand surgery after trauma
  • Repair of congenital defects, including cleft lip or palate, ear deformation, and tooth or jaw irregularities

What Is Cosmetic Surgery?

Cosmetic surgery procedures focus exclusively on improving a patient’s perceived aesthetic appearance and are generally considered elective. Cosmetic surgery tends to focus on the head and face but may involve just about any part of the body.

Common cosmetic surgical procedures include:

  • Face and neck lifts—In such operations, tissue is lifted, excess skin is removed, and the remaining skin is repositioned to eliminate sags and wrinkles. Other procedures, such as eyelid surgery and nose reshaping, are often done simultaneously with a facelift.
  • Breast augmentation—Such procedures may enlarge or reshape the breasts.
  • Hair transplantation or restoration—This process moves hair from another part of the body to cover baldness.
  • Rhinoplasty—This is the medical term for any procedure that reshapes or reduces your nose. It may be for purely aesthetic purposes, but it can also help alleviate breathing problems or correct a birth defect.
  • Liposuction—This process surgically removes fat deposits under your skin.
  • Tummy tuck—This procedure tightens up your abdomen, removing skin and fat and restoring muscle.

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