November 2014

Plastic Surgery or Cosmetic Surgery? What’s the difference?

We could be forgiven for believing that the change from the term plastic surgery to cosmetic surgery was one of the many alterations made to common language to satisfy political correctness. Or that the term was modified when it was finally noticed that none of the 34 recognised procedures actually involve the use of any substance or material that could be classified as what we know as plastic. 

However, this is untrue. In actual fact, cosmetic surgery is only one discipline within the field of plastic surgery. It is performed on normal parts of the body with the only purpose of improving a person’s appearance and/or removing signs of aging. Plastic surgery in the broad sense of the term is primarily concerned with the "correction" or restoration of form and function. The adjective plastic is derived from the Greek, plastikē, “the art of modelling”, sculpting or reshaping malleable flesh. Other non-cosmetic focused disciplines include reconstructive surgery, craniofacial surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery and the treatment of burns.

Since it’s introduction into popular culture in the 1980’s there have been a lot more developments besides the changing of the terms used. There has been a complete U-turn in the general perception of having a little ‘work’ done. In it’s infancy, plastic surgery was seen as a luxury only available to the glamour world of the rich and famous. Pictures of Jackie Stallone’s botched multi surgeries and schoolyard stories of Michael Jackson sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber while keeping his nose in a jar beside his bed did nothing to quash the image of a surgeon wearing a blood covered apron with a piece of old tyre in one hand and a scalpel in the other.


These days, not only is it conceivable that your next-door neighbour would be attending a clinic to have a face lift or tummy tuck but there is a strong possibility that they would openly discuss not only the fact they had the procedure but all the gory details as well. The part of the story that this reporter looks forward to is when the receiver talks about the positive impact it has made to their life because ultimately, that’s what it’s all about to the rank and file working people of the planet.

Let’s face it we all have something physical about ourselves that we quietly hate, hope people don’t notice and would change if we had the means and opportunity to do so. For this reporter, initially there was too much hair, now there isn’t enough. There is no concern for what anyone else feels about it, but there is concern for personal feeling.

If you’re considering having some ‘work’ done in an effort to try to appease and impress others, then maybe you should consider that surgery isn’t the right option for you. On the other hand, if your considerations are based on improving your confidence and self esteem then cosmetic surgery could very well be the answer to your personal dilemma.




Neil - Freelance PhotoJournalist from Ireland who has spent and continues to spend his life/career investigating life from as many angles as possible, using observation in the absence of understanding.