What is reconstructive surgery, and what is the difference between reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery? The American Society of Plastic Surgeons defines cosmetic surgery as including surgical and nonsurgical procedures that reshape normal structures of the body in order to improve appearance and self-esteem. Cosmetic surgery reshapes structures of the body that would be considered normal for a person’s age, ethnic background, and other factors, and the reshaping is for the improvement in appearance.
Reconstructive surgery is defined as surgery performed on abnormal structures of the body caused by congenital defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma, infection, tumors or disease. It is generally performed to improve functions, but may also be done to approximate a normal appearance. Reconstructive surgery can be as varied as breast reconstruction after mastectomy to scar improvement after a motor vehicle accident. While cosmetic surgery attempts to make a normal structure look more attractive, reconstructive surgery attempts to make an abnormal structure look or functional normally.