What is Plastic Surgery?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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Plastic surgery is a specialized area of surgery that involves the reconstruction of specific areas of the body that may have been damaged due to birth defects, trauma cases, burns or even disease. It also includes cosmetic surgery, which involves changing the appearance of a person through operations such as facelifts, rhinoplasty, liposuction and breast augmentations. The main difference between cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery is that people choose cosmetic surgery to improve the way they look. It can enhance their original features and hence improve their self-confidence and self-esteem. Reconstructive plastic surgery is performed to improve function or correct severe disfigurement that hinders the person's ability to lead a normal life.

Another difference is that most reconstructive plastic surgery will generally be covered by health insurance policies, while cosmetic surgery is not because it is an elective surgery. Most health insurance policies have their own distinctions between cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries. Blepharoplasty, an eyelid operation, is generally considered a cosmetic surgery, but if the eyelid has drooped so low as to impair vision it can then be considered a reconstructive surgery.


A major concern for most people considering plastic surgery is the amount of pain involved. The operation itself will not involve any pain, as it is performed under either a local or general anesthetic, but post surgery pain will vary from person to person depending on the surgery involved. Some patients describe the post surgery pain as a slight discomfort, while others have said the pain is considerably more intense. Doctors are able to administer medication to help ease this discomfort until the pain subsides.

Plastic surgeries have become more sophisticated than ever, and the diversity of operations means that most parts of the body can now be altered to produce the desired effect. You can have an eye or nose operation and be back home in only a few hours. You can change the shape of your body with liposuction, which is the removal of fat, or change the size of your breasts with augmentation and be back at work within a week.

Both women and men can benefit from plastic surgery, whether it is cosmetic or reconstructive. Many men now choose to have pectoral implants, liposuction or facial surgery to improve their general appearance and social confidence. As fashions change, surgeons find that patients request different types of surgery. It is not unusual for a surgeon to find himself performing a nose job on a patient who wants to have a nose just like their favorite Hollywood star. Whether reconstructive surgery for an injury victim or cosmetic surgery for someone who is unhappy with their appearance, plastic surgery has helped many people to lead a happier and more fulfilling life.


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Discuss this Article

Post 5

Thanks for all the advice. I need to start talking to some plastic surgeons in Gastonia, NC. I'm a little nervous but a lot excited.

Post 3

@angelBraids - We can only hope that this is a short lived trend. Looking at the photos available online about cosmetic plastic surgery gone wrong, I have to wonder why anyone would choose to do that to themselves.

I'm all for equality, but I'd prefer to see more focus on learning to live with what we have. Let's leave the plastic surgery to the people who really need it!

Post 2

It strikes me that the line between reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery can be blurry. I don't mean in cases where someone is burnt or born with a defect which needs to be corrected. But for those who are crippled by a lack of self confidence, I believe the surgery is just as essential.

Post 1

Recently I read an article about plastic surgery statistics for men. I was shocked to see that the numbers are rising, and are mainly for non essential things. Perhaps men are starting to feel the pressure to look a certain way that women have endured for centuries?

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