What is the difference between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery?

which wayAre you confused about whether the procedure you’re thinking of having done is considered cosmetic or reconstructive surgery? If so you wouldn’t be alone.

While the two types of surgery are very different, they are often considered one and the same. Whether you want to know out of sheer curiosity, or you need to know because your insurance claim relies upon it, below you’ll discover everything you need to know about the differences between the two types of procedures.

Understanding the main differences

The biggest difference between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery is that one is a choice and the other is actually needed. With cosmetic surgery, it is used to enhance the appearance based upon personal preference. Reconstructive surgery on the other hand is typically carried out to fix a problem.

As reconstructive surgery is something that is medically required, it is often included within health insurance policies and may also be available on the NHS. However, even if you choose to undergo the procedure privately, it is recommended you double check with your insurer before undergoing the surgery as some restrictions may apply. If you’re having cosmetic surgery, this won’t usually be covered as it’s a choice, not a necessity.

You might find it interesting to know that the majority of cosmetic procedures carried out today are actually modified from reconstructive surgery. The majority of reconstructive surgeons are also cosmetic surgeons, though many do prefer to focus solely on reconstructive procedures.

Grey areas do exist between the two

What makes it more difficult to tell the difference between reconstructive and cosmetic surgery is there are a lot of grey areas. For example, if you’ve suffered severe burns to your face after an accident, you’d want to have surgery for cosmetic reasons, to regain a more normal appearance. However, it might also be medically necessary to have surgery, particularly if there’s a high risk of infection or other health issues.

Due to the sheer amount of grey areas that do exist, it’s recommended you contact your insurer to double check if the surgery you require is covered.

Overall if you’re just looking to enhance the size of your breasts because you aren’t happy with their natural size, this is a cosmetic procedure. If, on the other hand, you need surgery to reduce dropping eyelids as they are obscuring your vision, this would be reconstructive surgery.

Your surgeon will be able to tell you exactly what type of procedure you’re having done. Remember, before having any type of surgery you should always research both the risks and benefits associated with the procedure.

Is it safe to have repeat cosmetic surgery soon after the initial procedure?

cosmetic-surgeryIf for any reason you require further cosmetic surgery after an initial procedure, it’s important to know how long you should leave it before going under the knife for a second time. Any kind of surgery is traumatic on the body. Therefore, it’s going to need to recover properly before a repeat procedure is carried out. Here you’ll discover how long you should typically leave it between surgeries.

Waiting for results

Before you even consider another cosmetic surgery procedure, it’s important to ensure you’ve given enough time for the results of the initial one to appear. A lot of people don’t realise that it can take anything up to six months to see the final results of a cosmetic procedure. This is because, depending upon the type of surgery you’ve undergone, it can take six months for swelling to go down and for the body to fully recover.

In the case of breast augmentation, the best plastic surgeons will suggest leaving it at least three months before having a second procedure done. However, whether you’ve had breast augmentation, a tummy tuck or a facelift, six months is generally the minimum amount of time you should wait between procedures.

Even if you’re not 100% happy with the initial results, you’ll still need to wait for six months before booking a corrective surgery.

Understanding the exceptions

There are situations where surgery may be required before the recommended six month waiting period. If you’ve developed an infection, are experiencing unusual symptoms or you’re in severe pain, you may need to have an emergency surgery carried out.

Even the best plastic surgeon can make a mistake. This will usually be discovered pretty soon after the surgery has been conducted. In this instance, they will be able to reschedule a second treatment to fix the problem as soon as it is safe to do so.

Having more than one procedure

If you’re thinking of having two separate procedures such as a facelift and liposuction for example, it would be worth looking in to having them done at the same time. Experienced surgeons will be able to carry out two procedures on the same day. This would prevent you from having to wait six months before having the second procedure.

Overall, six months is the standard level of time to wait between surgeries. However, it will depend on a number of factors. It’s important to talk it through with your surgeon as they will be able to give you a more specific waiting time period.

How Long Will the Benefits of My Cosmetic Surgery Last?

clockWhen you’re paying a lot of money for cosmetic surgery, you obviously want to know you’re getting your money’s worth and the results will last as long as possible. How long the results last will depend upon a wide range of factors. One of the first things to consider is the type of surgery you’ve had performed. Different procedures last for different lengths of time.

So exactly how long can you expect the results to last after your cosmetic procedure? Below you’ll find out everything you need to know.

Understanding facelift results

One of the most common cosmetic procedures these days is a facelift. The results are fantastic, providing you with a fresh, youthful appearance. However, what you need to remember is that while a facelift can produce miraculous results, it sadly doesn’t have the power to stop time.

This means you will continue to age and that can start to show after surgery. You’re still going to look up to ten years younger than you would have done without the facelift, but it is something you need to be aware of.

Of course, there are ways to reduce these natural signs of aging. Many people opt to have either dermal fillers or Botox to retain their new youthful looks. Your lifestyle will also make a significant difference to how long the results last. If you eat healthily, exercise, don’t smoke and you cut back on alcohol, the results will last a lot longer.

Most people find that the results of their facelift last for at least five years. After 10 years you may need to undergo a further procedure.

Understanding breast augmentation results

Breast augmentation is another popular procedure and generally speaking, the results usually last from 10-15 years. However, it is worth noting that there is a very small chance that the implants could last just three years. This largely occurs if the implants have been under filled.

So, the good news is the majority of the time implants will last for at least 10 years. After that you will need a further surgery to maintain results.

Overall a lot of personal factors come into play when determining how long a cosmetic procedure will last. One of the best things you can do to ensure you are left with the longest-lasting results is to choose a reliable, experienced surgeon.

Do I need a GP referral to have cosmetic surgery?

doctorThere are a lot of things to think about when you’re considering cosmetic surgery. If you’ve never gone under the knife, then you may be wondering whether you first need to see your GP. Many people are reluctant to visit their doctor prior to having a procedure out of fear that they will try to talk them out of it. So do you need a GP referral and will your surgeon need to speak to them before they operate?

NHS versus private cosmetic surgery referrals

The majority of cosmetic surgery is carried out privately. However, there are times when the NHS may pay for certain procedures. The only time you may qualify to have free cosmetic surgery using the NHS is if it can be proven you are suffering significant psychological distress because of your appearance. Even then, it’s likely you will need to undergo counselling or psychotherapy before surgery is considered.

If you decide to go through the NHS, you will need a GP referral. If you go to a private clinic, then a referral isn’t required.

Will the surgeon need to talk to my GP?

While you may not need a referral to have cosmetic surgery, your surgeon will need to talk to your GP before they operate. This is because they need to find out more about your medical history for safety reasons.

It could be that you’re on specific medications that could affect the type of treatment you should receive. Or you may have had a recent surgery and having a cosmetic procedure might not be safe for another few months. The surgeon needs to know everything about your recent medical history and whether there’s anything that could affect the procedure.

Of course, there are some surgeons out there who will not chat with your GP first. However, never trust a surgeon who does not carry out proper checks prior to surgery. There are a lot of inexperienced surgeons carrying out cosmetic procedures purely for the money. Going with this type of surgeon increases the chances of something going wrong.

Overall you don’t need a referral unless you’re hoping to have a procedure on the NHS. However, it is highly advised that you chat with your GP before booking a cosmetic surgery consultation. They will be able to establish whether you’re healthy enough for the surgery.