The Distinctions Between Cosmetic And Reconstructive Surgery

Submitted by: Adriana J Noton

The distinctions between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery are more so about semantics as the differences are very minor. Cosmetic surgery is considered a choice patients elect to have to improve their appearance. Reconstructive surgery is considered more of a mandatory procedure that will help to improve the quality of life of the patient.

Plastic surgery is performed on individual that are looking to make a change in their appearance which may have been affecting their level of self esteem. Or it may simply be an issue of the patient wanting to look better. Plastic surgery has risen in popularity and there are many different kinds of procedures that are performed. Reconstructive surgery is performed as the result of a serious injury or the by products of a disease. This is a necessary surgery that will help the patient live a more comfortable life.

Both plastic surgery and reconstructive surgery are perform specialized procedures. Popular plastic surgery procedure include nose jobs, breast augmentation and liposuction. Reconstructive surgery treats a number of situations such as extensive burns, congenital defects and various other deformities that need correction.


The main difference between reconstructive and cosmetic surgery is the cause for the procedure. If it is purely a choice and does not necessarily improve the quality of life it is cosmetic surgery. If it is needed to restore the normal function of a body part that is necessary to improve a patient’s life, it is reconstructive surgery.

A more basic difference between the two is that one is covered by health insurance while the other is not. Cosmetic surgery, because it is elective, is normally not covered and the patient will have to pay for the procedure. But reconstructive surgery is needed and therefore covered by insurance. However, there are exceptions. If the cosmetic surgery is deemed necessary, most insurance carriers will cover the costs.

Another difference between the two is that reconstructive surgery is more intense and depending on the procedure, will take more time. Whereas plastic surgery came be performed rather quickly. And plastic surgery is usually done under a general or local anesthetic. Usually reconstructive surgery will be more painful and the time to recover from the surgery will take more time. There are also more follow up check in and sometimes, depending on the extent of the damage, additional surgeries may be required.

Patients that have had reconstructive surgery will often times need more time to recover. Plastic surgery normally has a shorter recovery period but this depends on the patient and the procedure. Everyone is different when it comes to recovery from a major surgery.

Distinctions between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery are really not that big. It really comes down to whether or not the procedure is necessary to the well being of the patient. Both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery have offered a new lease on life for their patients. But before getting any type of surgery, it is important to get a second opinion. No surgery should be taken lightly.

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