A gloved hand holding a scalpel for cosmetic surgery

Cosmetic Surgery vs Reconstructive Surgery: Understanding the Differences

Cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery are two different types of medical procedures that are often confused with each other. Although both types of surgery involve altering a person’s appearance, their goals and motivations are quite different. In this article, we will explore the differences between cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery, the benefits and risks associated with each type of procedure, and the importance of choosing a qualified and experienced surgeon.

What is Cosmetic Surgery?

Cosmetic surgery, also known as plastic surgery, is a type of surgical procedure that is done to improve the appearance of a person’s body or face. The primary goal of cosmetic surgery is to enhance the aesthetic appeal of a person’s appearance by reshaping or contouring specific parts of the body. Examples of cosmetic surgeries include breast augmentation, rhinoplasty (nose job), liposuction, facelifts, and tummy tucks.


Cosmetic surgery is usually an elective procedure, which means that it is done at the request of the patient rather than for medical or functional reasons. The decision to undergo cosmetic surgery is usually based on personal preferences and desires rather than medical necessity. For example, a woman may choose to have breast augmentation to improve the size or shape of her breasts, or a person may choose to have liposuction to remove excess fat from specific areas of the body.

Benefits of Cosmetic Surgery

The benefits of cosmetic surgery are primarily aesthetic. Patients who undergo cosmetic surgery may experience an improvement in their self-esteem, confidence, and overall quality of life. Cosmetic surgery can also help to correct physical imperfections and enhance a person’s natural beauty. However, like all surgical procedures, cosmetic surgery carries risks and potential complications.

What is Reconstructive Surgery?

Reconstructive surgery, also known as reconstructive plastic surgery, is a type of surgical procedure that is done to repair or reconstruct body parts that have been damaged due to injury, illness, or birth defects. The primary goal of reconstructive surgery is to restore function and improve the appearance of the affected body part. Examples of reconstructive surgeries include breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, skin grafting to cover burns or wounds, and reconstructive surgery to correct a cleft lip or palate.


Unlike cosmetic surgery, reconstructive surgery is usually necessary for medical or functional reasons. For example, breast reconstruction after a mastectomy helps a woman to feel whole and regain confidence in her appearance. Similarly, skin grafting after a severe burn is necessary to promote healing and prevent infection.

Benefits of Reconstructive Surgery

The benefits of reconstructive surgery are primarily functional and medical. Patients who undergo reconstructive surgery may experience an improvement in their quality of life, the ability to perform daily activities, and an improvement in their physical appearance. Reconstructive surgery can also help to prevent further health issues and promote healing.

Choosing a Qualified Surgeon

Regardless of the type of surgery, choosing a qualified and experienced surgeon is essential for achieving the best possible outcome. Surgeons who specialize in cosmetic or reconstructive surgery have undergone additional training beyond the standard medical degree and have a higher level of expertise in their field.

It’s important to research the credentials and experience of any surgeon you are considering for your surgery. Look for a surgeon who is board-certified in their specialty and has extensive experience in performing the specific type of surgery you are considering. You can also look for reviews from past patients to get a sense of their experience and satisfaction with the surgeon and the procedure.


At Hess, Sandeen, & Lee Plastic Surgery, our surgeons have experience with cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. We can help you love the way you look. 

To schedule a constellation, contact us today.