Difference Between Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery

Plastic and aesthetic surgery are two branches of the same discipline. However, the goals they pursue, as well as research and training, reflect two related but not equal specialties. That is why using these two terms interchangeably is a mistake. The purpose that we can define as “common” between plastic and aesthetic surgery is to improve the patient’s well-being.

Plastic and Aesthetic Surgery

What differentiates them, however, is the pursuit of this purpose and the motivation behind each intervention. As we will see in a little more detail, plastic surgery focuses on repairing trauma, while cosmetic surgery focuses on improving physical appearance. These are the basic notions from which we will start to go to deepen the whole discussion.

What is Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery is a branch of surgery whose purpose is to correct, repair or rebuild the correct functionality of damaged organs or systems. The latter can be altered for various causes: genetics, degenerative pathologies, trauma, burns, or injuries. Plastic surgery, in fact, is often also called reconstructive surgery.

The surgeon’s goal is to restore the functionality of the compromised parts and, at the same time, to give them a harmonious aesthetic appearance. In most cases, plastic surgery operations involve the removal of flaps of skin from intact areas of the body that will be applied to the area to be reconstructed. Plastic surgery, therefore, does not only concern the face but extends to the whole body, affecting the muscle, adipose, and skin tissues.

Plastic Surgeon vs. Cosmetic Surgeon

In recent years, the most frequently performed plastic surgery operations involve scar correction and breast reconstruction. In the first case, we are talking about “correction” since it is now known that completely eliminating a scar is impossible. No surgery, cosmetic or cosmetic medicine treatment can offer the guarantee that a scar will disappear from the skin. The aim, therefore, is to reduce its visibility.

Breast reconstruction, on the other hand, is a surgical operation that is performed in the face of breast cancer, also known as breast cancer. Once the latter is removed, the plastic surgeon will proceed with the reconstruction of the breast, to promote greater psychophysical well-being to the patient.

What is Cosmetic Surgery?

Aesthetic surgery, on the other hand, is a branch of surgery whose purpose is to improve the aesthetic beauty of the body and face. Consequently, we are not talking about trauma or malformations, but about imperfections, which can be more or less serious. Usually, before going through cosmetic surgery, today the solutions made available to aesthetic medicine are examined. Although they are milder and not definitive, they ensure very satisfactory results, always bearing in mind that each patient has a specific and unique imperfection.

cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries

In any case, the goal of cosmetic surgery is to reduce or eliminate a blemish with the aim of giving a more harmonious and balanced appearance to the patient’s physicality. In other words, we talk about the correction of proportions, asymmetries, and dimensions of a certain part of the body or face. Cosmetic surgery can be performed by various medical sectors, including plastic surgery. To date, in fact, there are many plastic surgeons who also perform plastic surgery. This is probably one of the main reasons why the two disciplines tend to be confused.

As for the execution of the operations, the most requested to date we can say that they are essentially five:

  • Breast augmentation (additive and reductive)
  • Rhinoplasty
  • Blepharoplasty
  • Malaroplastic
  • Mentoplasty
  • Facial rejuvenation (face and neck lifting)
  • Skin rejuvenation (Botulinum-based filling treatments)


As can be seen from what has been said so far, plastic and aesthetic surgery are two sides of the same coin. Both aim at improving the patient’s well-being, albeit in the face of discomforts, problems, and imperfections of a different nature. Consequently, putting them on the same level is a real mistake, as they address the very different needs and requirements of the patient. For example, those who need to be operated on a deviated septum do not necessarily want to model the shape or size of the nose. However, in most cases, those who undergo surgery choose to undergo cosmetic retouching as well. The result, in cases like this, is due to the synergy of the two disciplines, which still remain two very separate spheres.

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