Plastic surgeons are medical doctors who specialize in reconstructive or cosmetic surgeries that change the function or appearance of parts of the body.
Becoming a plastic surgeon is one of the hardest of all medical professions. In addition to medical school, residencies can be around 6 years. First a general surgery residency, then a specialized plastic surgery residency. There are over 8,000 members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Reconstruction refers to plastic surgeries that restore damaged body parts to their normal state. This includes burn treatment, fixing arteries, veins, and soft tissue in an injured hand, breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, cleft palates and other congenital defects. Reconstructive surgeries are usually covered by health insurance.
Cosmetic surgeries are elective procedures whose purpose is to improve appearance. They do not alter the functioning of any body parts. Plastic surgeons are frequently asked to reduce signs of aging such as wrinkles. The vast majority of cosmetic surgery patients are women.
Common cosmetic procedures are breast augmentation or reduction, liposuction, facelifts, nose jobs/rhinoplasty, and tummy tucks. Cosmetic surgeries are usually considered voluntary and not covered by health insurance.