Plastic Surgery vs. Cosmetic Surgery: What’s the Difference?

Plastic Surgery vs. Cosmetic Surgery: What’s the Difference?

Plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are two terms that people often use interchangeably. But they’re actually not the same. Whether you’re considering  a procedure  or just want to be technically correct when defining plastic surgery vs. cosmetic surgery, here’s what you need to know about the differences between the two choices.

It is important to know that a plastic surgeon who is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery has gone through rigorous training in both plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery.  Do not assume a doctor calling him/herself a cosmetic surgeon has the same intense training as a board-certified plastic surgeon.


Plastic surgery exists to improve or eliminate problems of the face and body, whether they’re the result of disease, traumatic injury, or have been present since birth. The reason patients with these problems want them fixed is typically to improve their quality of life. After all, some problems that plastic surgery can fix have been holding patients back for years, whether because they inhibit important functions of the body, make patients self-conscious, or both.

Some people who are born with facial deformities (such as cleft palate or cleft lip),  count on plastic surgery to resolve them so they may look as though they never had these birth defects. There are also patients who need rhinoplasty, not just because they don’t like the look of their nose, but because their nose is so crooked they can’t breathe correctly until it’s surgically fixed. Finally, breast reconstruction and ear reconstruction are both good examples of plastic surgery that help patients regain confidence and possibly improve function.


On the other hand, the primary goal of cosmetic surgery is to improve one’s appearance.  Depending on the procedure, cosmetic surgery focuses on enhancing the face or improving the appearance of parts of the body.

Breast enhancement is among the most well-known examples of cosmetic surgery, as women might get breast implants or a lift to improve the appearance of their breasts. Body contouring procedures — such as liposuction and abdominoplasty (“tummy tuck”) — are also examples of cosmetic surgery treatments that focus on enhancing the look of the body.

There are many types of  cosmetic surgery procedures that can improve your facial appearance. Everything from facelift, rhinoplasty, chin implant to brow lift, fillers and Botox,  all  fall into the cosmetic surgery category.  Basically, any procedure that solely makes patients look more attractive and younger — and doesn’t fix any physical dysfunctions at the same time — counts as cosmetic surgery.

Clearly, there are good reasons to consider both of these options, and many people may end up having both over time. One thing to keep in mind when comparing plastic surgery vs. cosmetic surgery is that your insurance plan won’t cover cosmetic surgeries.  In some cases, it is possible that health insurance may assist in covering a portion of  surgery that improves function.  If you still have questions about your choices, contact  Cosmetic Surgery of New York today to find out more.

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