What is the difference between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery?

Cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery are two separate branches of plastic surgery. The fundamental difference is that cosmetic surgery is an elective procedure, whereas reconstructive surgery is critically important.

Reconstructive surgery is required in a situation where a part of the patient’s face or another external body part is damaged, broken, mutilated, burnt, disfigured, or surgically removed. In all such conditions, reconstructive plastic surgery helps restore the patient’s physical condition. This surgery is critically important because it helps restore the aesthetics as well as functionality of the specific body part.

When a healthy person’s body suffers damage in an accident or a life-saving surgery, it can be difficult to cope with the condition. This is where reconstructive surgery helps to restore the patient’s self-confidence and appearance. As the physical looks and functionality are restored to a reasonably normal level, the patient regains their confidence levels.

Cosmetic surgery, on the other hand, is largely a matter of personal choice. People who are very conscious of their physical appearance and desire to improve their looks, may choose to undergo a cosmetic procedure. The most common cosmetic surgeries include facelift, eyelid, rhinoplasty, breast reduction or enhancement, tummy tuck, and liposuction.

In most cases of cosmetic surgery, the patient’s goal is to improve his or her physical aesthetics. In some cases, the physical disproportion or abnormality may be more pronounced. Cosmetic surgery is more useful in such cases to restore the self-esteem of the patients and enhance their quality of life.

In some cases, both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery may have to be performed on the same patient. Reconstructive surgery may be required to repair the damaged portion of the body or the face, and cosmetic surgery will complement it by making the repair job look more natural, thus hiding the scars and marks effectively.

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  • Rating: 5 NYC Plastic Surgeon - Five Star Reviews By Tina R..
    Edmund Kwan, M.D.
    Dr. Kwan is by far the most talented surgeon I have EVER crossed paths with. I came to Dr. Kwan after an under eye fat transplant, performed 'by another' plastic surgeon, which deformed my face. It was only until I was under Dr.Kwan's care that the deformity was corrected. Dr. Kwan literally gave me back my beauty. This was a priceless feeling. That was about 4 years ago, I can assure you ever since- Dr. Kwan is the ONLY plastic surgeon I trust my face and body to. I look forward to my body contouring procedure coming up in a few weeks!! :)
    Reviewed by Tina R.
  • Rating: 5 NYC Plastic Surgeon - Five Star Reviews By Mascha N.
    The staff treated me very kindly, with respect and genuine smiles. Dr Kwan is a real professional in my opinion. He took the time to listen to my story, addressed my concerns and took his time to walk me through the process and give me his opinion and explanation on his recommendation. I had my surgery in his practice and we went over everything again before I met up with the anesthesiologist, who was equally as nice and professional as everyone else at his practice. We started counting bikes ... and after bike #6 I fell a sleep. When I woke up, he was there to tell me I did great and before I knew it I was in a taxi cab back home with my best friend who came to pick me up. So I don't know if this is typical, but I had no pain whatsoever after the surgery. . I am very very happy with the results. Dr Kwan did an amazing job and I couldn't be more pleased.
    Mascha N.
  • Rating: 5 NYC Plastic Surgeon - Five Star Reviews By Rocky P.
    I was invovled in an automobile accident last May, 2013. The outcome from the emergency room left me with 5 stitches on the bridge of my nose, and the tip of my nose was missing due to the severe impact of the accident. I called and scheduled an appointment to visit Dr. Kwan so he could assess my nose. Upon arriving to the office, I was immediately impressed with the facility, service, and profesionalism of his staff. Dr. Kwan met with me and examined my nose and in detail, he explained the approach he would take in order to get my nose like brand new again.On the day of my surgery, I was met by Dr Kwan, who performed the surgery, himself. His Anestigeologist was very informative and professional as well. The outcome of Phase 1 was a success. In addition to that, the staff even called my medication into the pharmacy that way it would be ready as soon as I left the office. My nose is 98% back to normal, I now look forward to Phase 2 to be completed. After that procedure is done I am positive my nose will look absolutely perfect and I will be back to my confident self again. Thanks Dr Kwan and Staff.
    Rocky P.
  • Rating: 5 NYC Plastic Surgeon - Five Star Reviews By Glenn C.
    I have had several surgeries with Dr Kwan, and would recommend him highly. Liposuction of abdomen and love handles came out smooth. Upper eyelids look younger and refreshed, and the Basal Cell Cancer he cut out of my nose is not even visible, despite the fact that it was right along the rim of my left nostril.
    Glenn C.
  • Rating: 5 NYC Plastic Surgeon - Five Star Reviews By T. Cannon
    I have been using Dr Kwan for over 10 years now. I have had many different procedures and all of them have turned out great. One of the breast augmentations had a crimp in the left breast and he had no problem going in to revise it to assure my satisfaction. I have always liked the way he answers each of my concerns and we go over everything for each procedure I've done several times to assure we are on the same page :) Take a list of any questions or concerns an I guarantee you will love your results no matter what procedure he is doing for you! .
    T. Cannon

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