Plastic surgery is a specialized practice of medicine that involves restoration, reconstruction or alteration of the body. The word plastic might evoke images of the common engineering material derived from petroleum, but it actually comes from a Greek word that means “modeling” or “reshaping”, as in the reshaping of matter. Sometimes plastic surgery is used interchangeably with reconstructive and cosmetic surgical procedures. In reality, those are two branches of plastic surgery with different objectives.
Reconstructive surgery includes procedures that rebuild a body part to improve the way it functions. It includes craniofacial operations, hand surgery, burn treatments and microsurgery. This practice area is mostly concerned with improving deformities that originate from congenital defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma, tumors and/or disease. Reconstructive operations may be also undergone to approximate normal appearance. These medical procedures are often covered by health insurance policies to varying extents. Consult a plastic surgeon to discuss available options.
Cosmetic or aesthetic surgery on the other hand is concerned with the appearance of body parts that appear and function normally. It also refers to operations to reduce signs of aging. Cosmetic procedures are usually voluntary or elective and may not be covered by health insurance. Breast augmentation, rhinoplasty, liposuction and face lifts are popular types of aesthetic surgery. This area of practice may also include non-surgical treatments such as Botox injections and laser hair removal. The number of cosmetic operations has grown significantly over the years, with Americans spending over $16 billion on these procedures in 2018 alone.
Surgical procedures can be very risky and should only be completed by board-certified doctors, licensed to perform the type of operation you desire or need. You should consult with reputable plastic surgery specialists for either type. Reconstructive surgery involves operations that restore the appearance and function of body parts. These are often covered by health insurance. Cosmetic practice involves the altering of the aesthetics of normally functioning body parts. These operations are usually elective and are often funded without the aid of insurance.