Is Cosmetic Surgery the Same as Plastic Surgery?

Is Cosmetic Surgery the Same as Plastic Surgery

We are often asked by our clients, is cosmetic surgery the same as plastic surgery? Though the term plastic surgery is often used interchangeably with cosmetic surgery the nature of the two surgeries are in fact different. Though both types of surgeries can be geared at changing the appearance of the patient they are each done for different reasons.

In this article we will address the differences between plastic and cosmetic surgery. Though commonly considered to be the same thing the two surgeries are very different. Understanding the difference between the cosmetic and plastic surgery will enable you to effectively research procedures you wish to obtain in the future.

What Is Cosmetic Surgery?

You have likely heard of someone talking about a celebrity getting a nose job and calling it ‘plastic surgery’. Though this is commonly how people refer to cosmetic procedure’s plastic surgery is a discipline of medicine all on its own. So, what is cosmetic surgery?

Cosmetic surgery is an elective procedure to enhance or alter the appearance of a patient through surgical methods. The focus of cosmetic surgery is not repairing or reconstructing a part of the body, but it instead focuses on enhancing appearance. When patients choose to obtain cosmetic surgery, they are not fixing a problem but are instead making a desired and elective change that is not medically necessary.

What Is Plastic Surgery?

Unlike cosmetic surgery plastic surgery is not done for cosmetic purposes. Instead it is done in order to improve a medical condition. Plastic surgery often requires a different skill set than cosmetic surgery and it is never done simply for esthetics. Plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons often have different skill and training though some skills may overlap.

There may be some confusion between cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery as often the result of plastic surgery includes an improved appearance. But it should be noted that the main purpose of plastic surgery is not cosmetic. It is instead to alleviate a medical issue that are either present at birth or are the result of trauma to the body.

Types of Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery covers a wide variety of procedures. Though at times the procedure itself could also in theory be plastic surgery the difference between the two is that it is an elective procedure. All cosmetic surgeries are done to enhance the appearance of the patient who does not have a medical condition requiring the procedure. Types of elective cosmetic procedures are as follows;

  • Breast Enhancement  – this is a common procedure that is done to enhance the shape and size of breasts. This procedure is often elected by women wishing to enhance the appearance of their chest.
  • Rhinoplasty – often referred to as a nose job involves the reshaping of the nose in order to obtain the desired aesthetic of the patient.
  • Facial Surgery  – this term covers a variety of different procedures used to enhance the appearance of the face. Face, brow and neck lifts are all part of this type of procedure.
  • Skin Rejuvenation – this term covers a variety of skin treatments used to enhance the appearance of the skin. It can include vein removal, Botox and filler treatments such as lip fillers.
  • Body Contouring – this term covers procedures used to change the shape of the body or remove fat. It includes CoolSculpting, tummy tuck and liposuction.

cosmetic and plastic surgery

Types of Plastic Surgery

Sometimes plastics surgery procedures often appear to overlap or be the same as cosmetic procedures. But the purpose behind the procedure is not for cosmetic purposes. In the case of a patient receiving plastic surgery, the procedure is done in order to improve or repair a medical condition.

  • Breast Reconstruction – unlike breast augmentation this procedure is performed in order to rebuild the breast. Patients sometimes choose to undergo breast reconstruction after obtaining a mastectomy.
  • Cleft Palate Repair – cleft palates are sometimes seen in infants and often occur with a cleft lip. Though the repair of a cleft palate and lip can be considered to improve appearance it is considered cosmetic surgery as it is repairing a medical issue.
  • Burn Treatments – burns can be complicated and require a lot of care to heal effectively. Major burns that require plastic surgery are not simply for cosmetic reasons.

Is Cosmetic Surgery Covered by Insurance?

Many of our clients ask us, is cosmetic surgery covered by insurance? In most cases the answer to this question is no. Elective cosmetic surgery is often not covered by insurance, such as OHIP or private insurance. As cosmetic surgery is not performed for a medical need it generally does not fall into a category that insurance providers cover.

In many cases plastic surgery is covered by insurance. Plastic surgery is always performed for a medical need and in such is often covered by medical insurance. In order to understand what is and is not covered by insurance it is best to check with your insurance provider. Some plastic surgery procedures are covered under OHIP including rhinoplasty and breast reconstruction or reduction.

In the case of obtaining plastic surgery your procedure will need to be cleared by a medical doctor and only under specific circumstances. See our previous article “Does Insurance Cover Cosmetic Surgery?” for more information.

How to Choose a Cosmetic Surgeon

If you know that you are ready to obtain cosmetic surgery your next step is to find a qualified cosmetic surgeon. Look for a qualified plastic surgeon such as a member of our team at NewDermaMed. Your care provider should make you feel safe and comfortable throughout the process.

If you are ever unsure as to whether your desired procedure is elective or not consider reaching out to a member of our team. We can help you understand the options available to you and guide you in choosing the right procedure for your needs. In addition to offering you world class care we also offer a variety of financing options in order to make your desired procedure accessible and affordable.


Author: Alin Gharibian

With over fifteen years of experience, Alin has earned her reputation as a highly respected Certificated Medical Aesthetician. Her welcoming personality, strong dedication to her clients continue to support her growth in this field. Alin strongly believes that continuous education and ongoing training is fundamental in offering her clients with the most advanced technologies and innovative treatments. Her annual attendance at world seminars, including the Anti-Aging World Seminars and Management Programs, have kept her at the forefront of the industry’s latest trends and innovative new technologies.