The Difference Between Cosmetic Surgery and Plastic Surgery

If you’ve always thought cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery were one in the same, you’re not alone. Majority of our population also think that way. A c number of plastic surgeons choose to focus their work on cosmetic surgery, and as such, the terms are often used interchangeably. But this is not technically correct. The terms “cosmetic surgery” and “plastic surgery” are closely related specialties, but they are not the same since they different goals.


Cosmetic Surgery & Plastic Surgery Have Different Goals


Even if both surgeries deal with improving a patient’s body, the overarching theories guiding the training, research, as well as goals for patient outcomes are different.


Cosmetic Surgery: Focused on Enhancing Appearance


The procedures, methods, and principles of cosmetic surgery are entirely focused on improving or developing a patient’s appearance. It not just focus on one part for example rhinoplasty Utah, but enhancing aesthetic appeal, symmetry, and proportion are the key goals of this kind of operation. In addition to that, cosmetic surgery can be performed on all areas of the head, neck, and body because the treated areas function properly, cosmetic surgery is elective. This surgery is practiced by surgical doctors from a variety of medical fields, including plastic surgeons.


The scope of cosmetic surgery procedures includes the following:


  • Breast Enhancement: Augmentation, Lift, Reduction
  • Facial Contouring: Rhinoplasty, Chin, or Cheek Enhancement
  • Facial Rejuvenation: Facelift, Eyelid Lift, Neck Lift, Brow Lift
  • Body Contouring: Tummy Tuck, Liposuction, Gynecomastia Treatment
  • Skin Rejuvenation: Laser Resurfacing, Botox, Filler Treatments
  • Plastic Surgery: Focused on Repairing Defects to Reconstruct a Normal Function & Appearance


Plastic Surgery: Focused on Repairing Defects to Reconstruct a Normal Function and Appearance


Again, plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are different in some ways. Plastic surgery is defined as a surgical specialty dedicated to the reconstruction of facial and body defects due to birth disorders, trauma, burns, and diseases. It is intended to correct dysfunctional areas of the body and is reconstructive in a natural way. While many plastic surgeons prefer to complete additional training and do cosmetic surgery as well, the basis of their surgical training continues to be reconstructive plastic surgery. In fact, in 1999, the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons or ASPRS changed its name to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or ASPS to more strongly communicate the message that “plastic and reconstructive surgeons are one in the same.”¹


Examples of plastic surgery procedures:


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