Differences between Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery

Many people assume that plastic and cosmetic surgery is all the same even though it is not. For a long time, the term plastic has been understood as artificial and therefore people translate plastic surgery as a cosmetic procedure. However, these are two different things and people need to understand this.

History of Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery was practiced in the past by Greeks who wanted to have scars removed from their backs. It was assumed that having a scar on the back meant that you turned your back during a war which signified cowardice. Other ancient kingdoms also practiced some forms of plastic surgery but not to the extent that the field has grown into today. After the World War, it became apparent that plastic surgery was necessary because of all the injuries that people sustained. From there, the field grew periodically to become what it is today.

Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is not performed for cosmetic purposes. It is specifically designed and targeted towards restoring normal functions by altering the appearance of various body parts. For example, plastic surgery deals with cleft palate and other structural deformities that affect one’s health and the quality of life. Rhinoplasty might be necessary when you have breathing difficulties because of your cartilage or the size of your nostrils. All this may alter your look but it is not primarily geared towards that. Instead, it is focused on helping the body part with its designed function.

Additionally, plastic surgeons might practice cosmetic surgery but only a sixth of their training deals with cosmetic procedures. The rest of the training administered after graduating in general surgery focuses on deformities and reconstruction due to disease, trauma, burns and accidents. Plastic surgeons are certified by the board of plastic surgery in their state and country.

Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is primarily for appearances, as the name suggests. For cosmetic surgeons, the training administered after medical school deals with cosmetic procedures such as breast augmentation, tummy tucks, face lifts and even Rhinoplasty. While plastic surgeons have the option to cross over to cosmetic surgery, cosmetic surgeons are barred from doing this without the necessary training and fellowship. This is because cosmetic surgeons are not skilled or trained in correcting deformities or dealing with reconstructive surgery as a result of diseases or trauma.

Cosmetic surgeons are certified by the board of cosmetic surgeons in the area but not the board of plastic surgery.

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From these differences, you can see that plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery differ. The philosophy, mode of operation or intent of these procedures vary. For a long time, the American Board of Plastic Surgery was known as the American Board of Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery. This was later changed by dropping the ‘cosmetic’ from the name as an emphasis that plastic surgery is actually not cosmetic and is aimed at restoring the function of various bodily parts by altering their appearance. This helped to show the priority and to clarify that it was not about how you look but rather how to help your body function better by altering how a specific part looks.

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