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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 Surgeon New York: Dr. Edmund Kwan

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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What our patients say


After a year of extensive searching and interviews, I chose Dr. Kwan to perform my abdominoplasty. He very patiently answered all of my many questions before, during and after the procedure. In fact, since I have always had issues with scarring (I am a very dark-skinned African American), he took great care and all of the time we needed to make sure that scarring was minimal. Now that it is three years post surgery there is barely a trace and I love the results. Also, I can't say enough about his wonderful staff. These ladies take care of business and do it all with a smile. Given his education, experience and NY location I added him to my pool to interview but didn't really think I could afford him. Unlike his greedy and very commercial competitors, he is reasonably priced. I knew that I was in good hands when I chose him but had no idea the degree to which he would go to ensure that it was a positive experience for both of us.
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Best Plastic Surgeon NYC, Edmund Kwan, M.D for facelift surgery
Dr. Edmund Kwan, M.D. is a board certified plastic surgeon in New York specializing in plastic and reconstructive surgery. Dr Kwan is committed to performing non surgical and surgical procedures to help his patients restore a more youthful appearance with natural and beautiful results. Connect with Dr. Edmund Kwan, M.D. on Linkedin