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What is the difference between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery?

Plastic surgery is a broad field which encompasses reconstructive as well as cosmetic surgeries. Its primary goal is to repair and reconstruct defects or abnormalities caused by congenital conditions, traumas, diseases, or other medical reasons. Plastic surgeons undergo extensive medical training and may specialize in burns, trauma, craniofacial surgery, hand surgery, and reconstructive microsurgery. Plastic surgery procedures include reconstructing facial features, repairing cleft palates, reconstructing breasts after mastectomy, correcting birth defects, and reconstructing body parts damaged by trauma.

Cosmetic surgery, also known as aesthetic surgery, focuses on enhancing a person's appearance and improving aesthetic appeal. Cosmetic procedures are typically elective and performed on individuals who desire to enhance their physical appearance, symmetry, or proportions, even if there is no medical necessity. These procedures are often aimed at enhancing facial or body features, reducing signs of aging, or achieving a more desired look. Common cosmetic surgeries include breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty (nose job), facelifts, and eyelid surgery.


While there is an overlap between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery, the primary distinction lies in their underlying objectives. Plastic surgery primarily aims to restore function and reconstruct body parts impacted by medical conditions or injuries, while cosmetic surgery focuses on enhancing aesthetics and achieving desired cosmetic goals.

Are plastic surgery consultations free?

The policy regarding fees for plastic surgery consultations can vary depending on the specific surgeon or clinic you choose. In some cases, initial consultations may be free of charge as a way to attract potential patients and provide them with an opportunity to discuss their desired procedures and ask questions. 

However, the majority of plastic surgeons do charge a fee for consultations, especially for more specialized procedures, or renowned surgeons with high demand. These fees are typically meant to compensate the surgeon for their time, expertise, and resources during the consultation process. The consultation fee varies and may range from a nominal fee to a more substantial amount.

It’s best to contact the specific plastic surgeon or clinic you are interested in to inquire about their consultation policies and any associated fees.

Can plastic surgery remove scars?

Yes, plastic surgery can be an effective option for removing or reducing the appearance of scars. The specific technique used will depend on the size, location, and type of scar you have. Some common plastic surgery procedures that can address scars include scar revision, skin grafting, laser scar revision, and even dermal fillers to make the scar less noticeable by creating a smoother and more even skin surface.

Can plastic surgery leave scars?

Yes, plastic surgery has the potential to leave scars. The appearance of scars can vary based on factors such as the surgical technique, incision placement, individual healing, and post-operative care. While surgeons strive to minimize the visibility of scars, it is impossible to guarantee scarless results. Scars typically fade and become less noticeable over time as they mature, and the body undergoes the natural healing process. Scar revision techniques are available to further improve the appearance of scars if desired.

Does plastic surgery have side effects?

Plastic surgery has possible risks and adverse effects. Before undertaking any surgical treatment, it is critical to have a full grasp of these potential side effects. Some of the most prevalent risks linked with plastic surgery include scarring, infections, hematomas, allergic reaction to anesthesia, and in some cases, nerve damage.

It's crucial to consult with a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon who can discuss the potential risks and side effects specific to your procedure. They will provide you with detailed information about the procedure, its risks, and how to minimize complications.

How old do you have to be to get plastic surgery?

In the United States, the age requirement for plastic surgery can vary depending on the specific procedure and the guidelines established by professional organizations, state regulations, and individual surgeons. 

For individuals under the age of 18 (minors), plastic surgery procedures are typically only performed for medical or reconstructive purposes, such as correcting congenital anomalies, repairing injuries, or addressing significant functional impairments. These procedures usually require parental consent.

Elective or cosmetic plastic surgery procedures are typically reserved for individuals who are at least 18 years old or older. This age requirement is to ensure that the person is legally considered an adult and is capable of providing informed consent for the procedure.

However, there may be exceptions or variations to these general guidelines based on specific circumstances. Some surgeons may have their own policies regarding age requirements for certain procedures. Additionally, certain procedures may have specific age restrictions or considerations due to factors such as physical development or hormonal changes.

It is best to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon in your state. They will be able to provide you with accurate information regarding the age requirements and suitability for the specific procedure you are interested in, based on your individual circumstances and the regulations in your state.

How long does it take to recover from plastic surgery?

The recovery time for plastic surgery will vary significantly depending on the type and extent of the procedure. Each surgery has its own unique recovery process, and it's vital to follow your surgeon's post-operative instructions for optimal healing. Here are some general guidelines for different types of plastic surgeries:

  • Minor procedures, such as injectable treatments (e.g., Botox, dermal fillers) or minimally invasive procedures, may require little to no downtime. Patients can usually resume their normal activities immediately or within a few days.
  • Surgeries like facelifts, rhinoplasty, or eyelid surgery typically involve a recovery period of about 2 weeks. However, it may take several weeks or months for the final results to fully manifest, as the swelling subsides and tissues heal.
  • Breast augmentation, breast reduction, or breast lift surgeries may require a recovery period of about 3 weeks. 
  • Procedures like liposuction, tummy tuck, or body lift surgeries generally require a longer recovery period. The initial recovery may take 2 to 4 weeks, and several months for the swelling to fully resolve.

These are general estimations, and individual recovery experiences can vary. Your surgeon will provide you with specific instructions tailored to your procedure, and advise you on when it's safe to resume various activities, such as exercise or returning to work.

How painful is plastic surgery recovery?

The level of pain experienced during plastic surgery recovery will depend on several factors, including the type of procedure performed, individual pain tolerance, and the patient's overall health. While some discomfort and pain are expected after surgery, the severity and duration can differ.

Everyone's experience with plastic surgery recovery is unique, so it’s essential to discuss your concerns and expectations with your plastic surgeon. They can provide you with a better understanding of what to expect in terms of pain and discomfort during your recovery process.

  • Mild to moderate pain can be managed with prescribed or over-the-counter pain medications recommended by your surgeon. 
  • Swelling and bruising are typical after plastic surgery and can contribute to discomfort during the recovery period. These effects are temporary and usually subside over time as the body heals.
  • Some patients may experience numbness or temporary loss of sensation around the surgical site. This can be accompanied by feelings of tightness or stiffness in the area. These sensations generally resolve as the healing process progresses.

Advancements in surgical techniques and post-operative care have helped minimize pain and discomfort associated with plastic surgery. Surgeons will typically provide specific instructions on pain management, including prescribed medications, ice packs, compression garments, and proper wound care to aid in the recovery process.

Can plastic surgery be reversed?

Reversing plastic surgery entirely and returning to one's pre-surgical appearance is challenging. While there are procedures that can address certain aspects of a previous surgery, reversing the effects entirely may not be feasible or may require extensive surgical interventions. It is crucial for individuals considering plastic surgery to thoroughly research and consult with qualified plastic surgeons to understand the potential outcomes, risks, and limitations associated with the procedures they are considering.

In some cases, certain aspects of plastic surgery can be revised or corrected through additional surgical procedures. For example, if a person is unhappy with the results of a previous surgery, they may undergo a revision procedure to address their concerns or achieve a more desirable outcome. However, it is important to keep in mind that revision surgeries may not always be possible or may have limitations.

How does plastic surgery for breast work?

There are several types of plastic surgery for the breasts, but the most common is breast augmentation. This procedure is performed to enhance the size, shape, or symmetry of the breasts. It involves the use of implants or fat transfer techniques.

The surgeon makes an incision in one of several possible locations, depending on factors such as the type of implant being used, your anatomy, and your surgeon's preference. The most common incision sites are around the areola (periareolar), in the crease underneath the breast (inframammary), or in the armpit (transaxillary). 

The implants can be placed either behind the breast tissue (subglandular) or behind the chest muscle (submuscular). The optimal placement will be determined based on your individual circumstances.

After the implants are positioned correctly, the incisions are carefully closed using sutures or surgical adhesive. Your surgeon may also place dressings or surgical tape over the incisions to aid in the healing process.