Cosmetic vs Plastic Surgery – What is the Difference?

plastic surgery vs cosmetic surgery
Caroline Hedges

Caroline Hedges

Caroline Hedges is a critically acclaimed researcher, writer and serial entrepreneur.
With a knack for making the obscure plain, she is able to distill her research
in writing both fun and engaging posts.

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We’ve all heard the terms ‘cosmetic surgery’ and ‘plastic surgery.’ Maybe you’ve even heard them used interchangeably. Someone you know was going in for a tummy tuck and told you they were having plastic surgery, a friend is considering a nose job and will be undergoing cosmetic surgery, and the list goes on. The truth is, cosmetic and plastic surgery are actually different. The confusion is likely due to many plastic surgeons offering cosmetic procedures and surgeries out of their offices. If they are not interchangeable, what makes them different?

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What is Cosmetic Surgery?

Cosmetic surgery is a medical discipline that focuses on enhancing the appearance through medical and surgical techniques. Cosmetic surgery can be performed anywhere on the head, neck or body.

Cosmetic procedures are focused on areas of the body that already function properly. Doctors use specific techniques designed to enhance a patient’s appearance. Since the areas being treated already function properly, the procedures are designated as elective and not medically necessary.

Examples of Cosmetic Surgery

There are many types of cosmetic surgery. Essentially, anything that is done on the body to make it more aesthetically pleasing can be considered cosmetic surgery, which means the sky’s the limit. Here are some examples, but remember that this list is not all inclusive:

young woman with makeup in luxury jewelry

What is Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery is the medical specialty dedicated to the reconstruction of facial and body defects due to birth disorders, trauma, burns and disease. In short, plastic surgery is used to correct dysfunctional areas of the body and is reconstructive in nature.

Many doctors who go into the plastic surgery discipline elect to go through extra training to also perform cosmetic procedures, but the basis of their training remains in reconstructive plastic surgery.

Examples of Plastic Surgery

As with cosmetic surgery, there are a wide variety of plastic surgeries as well. Due to the reconstructive nature of plastic surgery, it can be used in any situation where an area of the body is damaged. Some examples are: 

  • Breast reconstruction after breast cancer
  • Burn Repair Surgery
  • Congenital Defect Repair: Cleft Palate, Extremity Defect Repair
  • Lower Extremity Reconstruction
  • Hand Surgery
  • Scar Revision Surgery
Sexy woman body

Considering Cosmetic or Plastic Surgery?

If you’ve been considering any form of cosmetic or plastic surgery and want to know more, we invite you to simply come in for a complimentary consultation with Dr. Chang or one of the cosmetic laser and injection nurses to explore whether you would make a good candidate. To find out more whether Aesthetica can help you, contact us online or at 703-729-5553 to arrange an appointment. Dr. Phillip Chang is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Northern Virginia near Leesburg, Virginia and an expert in a wide variety of cosmetic treatments.

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Our office can provide you with helpful information, schedule a free consultation, and walk you through the many services and procedures we provide.

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