The Difference Between Reconstructive and Cosmetic Procedures

Plastic surgery is a form of medical specialty that focuses on the reconstruction, repair, and alteration of the human body. It is performed to improve a person’s appearance or to correct functional impairments. The two main categories of plastic surgery are reconstructive plastic surgery and cosmetic plastic surgery. Reconstructive plastic surgery is used to correct physical defects caused by birth disorders, trauma, burns, and disease. cosmetic plastic surgery is used to enhance a person’s physical appearance through procedures such as breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, and face lifts.

Insurance coverage for plastic surgery depends on the type of procedure being performed. Generally speaking, reconstructive procedures are covered by health insurance while cosmetic procedures are not covered.

It is important to be aware that not all surgeons who practice plastic surgery are board certified in this specialty. Board certification matters because it demonstrates that a surgeon has completed rigorous training and testing in order to become certified in their field. It also serves as an indication of a surgeon’s commitment to quality patient care and safety standards. There are two types of board certifications available in the field of plastic surgery: the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS).

Board Certification Matters

Board certification is an important factor to consider when selecting a plastic surgeon. It demonstrates that the surgeon has completed the necessary training and passed rigorous examinations, as well as adheres to the highest standards of safety and care. There are two types of board certification available for plastic surgeons: The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS).

Types of Certification

The ABPS is the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and is a prerequisite for membership in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). The ABPS certifies physicians who have completed at least six years of surgical training after medical school, three years of which must be dedicated to plastic surgery. To maintain certification, surgeons must participate in continuing education courses throughout their careers.

The ABCS is not recognized by the ABMS but is considered an acceptable alternative for those who specialize in cosmetic procedures. ABCS-certified surgeons are required to complete at least one year of specialized training in cosmetic surgery and pass a comprehensive written and oral exam. They must also adhere to a strict code of ethics and keep up with continuing education requirements.

Importance of Certification

It is essential to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon if you are considering any type of cosmetic or reconstructive procedure. Certification ensures that your surgeon has achieved a certain level of expertise and meets high standards for patient safety, care, and results. In addition, many insurance companies require that you use a board-certified surgeon for coverage. Therefore, it is important to ask your potential surgeon about their qualifications before making your decision.

Examples of Reconstructive and Cosmetic Procedures

Reconstructive Procedures

Reconstructive plastic surgery is a type of surgery that helps to restore the form and function of the body. It may involve the repair, reconstruction, or replacement of physical defects of form or function involving the skin, musculoskeletal system, cranio-maxillofacial structures, hand, extremities, breast and trunk, external genitalia or cosmetic enhancement. Examples of reconstructive procedures include:

breast reconstruction after mastectomy – This procedure is used to rebuild a woman’s breast after she has had a mastectomy due to cancer. The goal is to create a breast that looks as natural as possible.

• Cleft lip and palate repair – This procedure is used to correct facial deformities caused by cleft lips and palates. It can help improve speech and eating difficulties associated with these conditions.

• Hand surgery – Hand surgery can be used to treat injuries such as fractures, tendon injuries, nerve injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and other conditions that affect the hand.

• Tissue expansion – This procedure is used to stretch healthy skin over an area where tissue has been removed due to injury or illness.

Cosmetic Procedures

cosmetic plastic surgery is a type of surgery that focuses on improving appearance rather than restoring function or repairing damage. Examples of cosmetic procedures include:

• Facelift – A facelift is a surgical procedure used to reduce wrinkles in the face and neck area by removing excess fat and tightening loose skin.

• Rhinoplasty – Rhinoplasty is a procedure that reshapes the nose for improved appearance. It can also be used to improve breathing problems caused by structural abnormalities in the nose.

• Liposuction – Liposuction is a procedure used to remove fat from areas such as the abdomen, thighs and buttocks for improved body contour.

• breast augmentation – breast augmentation involves using implants or fat grafting techniques to increase breast size or improve symmetry between breasts.

• Botox injections – Botox injections are used to reduce wrinkles in areas such as around the eyes and forehead by temporarily paralyzing facial muscles that cause wrinkles when they contract.

Questions to Ask Your Surgeon

It is important to ask your surgeon questions when considering plastic surgery. Asking questions can help you understand the risks and benefits of the procedure, as well as the qualifications and experience of the surgeon. Below are some suggested questions to ask before undergoing a plastic surgery procedure.


Qualifications and Experience

When selecting a plastic surgeon, it is important to ensure that they are board-certified and have ample experience performing the procedure you are considering. Questions to ask your surgeon include:

  • Are you board-certified?
  • How many times have you performed this procedure?
  • What results can I expect from this procedure?
  • Do you have any before and after photos of patients who have undergone this procedure?

Safety and Risks

It is also important to understand the potential risks associated with a plastic surgery procedure. Questions to ask your surgeon include:

  • What are the potential risks associated with this procedure?
  • How likely are these risks to occur?
  • What steps will be taken if something goes wrong during or after the procedure?
  • Can you provide me with information about the medications I will need to take before and after my procedure?

By asking these questions, you can ensure that you make an informed decision when considering a plastic surgery procedure. It is important that you feel comfortable with your decision and confident in your surgeon’s qualifications and experience.


Plastic surgery is a medical specialty that can be used for reconstructive or cosmetic purposes. It involves many different types of procedures and surgeries, and it is important to understand the various categories and insurance coverage options available. Board certification is also an important factor to consider when selecting a surgeon, as there are different types of certifications available. Examples of both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures include breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, facelifts, and more. When considering plastic surgery, it is important to ask questions about the surgeon’s qualifications and experience, as well as safety measures taken to reduce risks associated with the procedure.

Overall, plastic surgery can be used for a variety of reasons depending on individual needs and preferences. Careful consideration should be taken when researching plastic surgeons and deciding which procedure best suits one’s needs. It is essential to understand all aspects of the surgery before making any decisions.