Understanding the difference between “Cosmetic” Surgery and “Reconstructive” Surgery: A Guide for Patients

When it comes to plastic surgery, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by the medical jargon that is often used in discussions around procedures and treatments. Terms like “cosmetic surgery,” “reconstructive surgery,” “cosmetic surgeon,” and “plastic surgeon” can be confusing, and it’s important for patients to understand the differences between these terms to make informed decisions about their healthcare.

Plastic surgery is a medical field that encompasses both cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. While both types of surgery involve altering a person’s appearance, there are significant differences between the two:

Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery, also known as aesthetic surgery, is a type of plastic surgery that focuses on improving a person’s appearance. This type of surgery is elective, meaning that it is not necessary for a person’s physical health or well-being. Some of these procedures include Breast augmentation, Rhinoplasty, Liposuction and Facelift.

Reconstructive Surgery

Reconstructive surgery is a type of plastic surgery that focuses on repairing or restoring a part of the body that has been damaged or lost due to injury, illness, or a congenital defect. This type of surgery is often necessary for a person’s physical health and well-being. Some of these procedures include Breast reconstruction, Cleft lip and palate repair, Burn reconstruction and Skin grafts.

Understanding Medicare Coverage for Plastic Surgery: What You Need to Know

Are you considering plastic surgery but uncertain about which procedures are covered by the Australian Medicare system and Private Health Insurers? Understanding the guidelines set by Medicare’s MBS (Medical Benefits Schedule) is crucial when it comes to plastic surgery. It’s important to note that Medicare does not provide coverage for “non-therapeutic cosmetic surgery,” such as cosmetic facelifts or breast augmentation for purely aesthetic reasons. They only cover procedures that are clinically necessary for your health or meet their stringent criteria for being deemed “medically necessary.

The following listed Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Item Numbers are essential for patients to be able to claim the Medicare rebates and utilise their Private Health Insurance Hospital cover for surgical procedures:

Breast Surgery – MBS Item Numbers

  • 45060   Breast Asymmetry or Tubular Breast surgery
  • 45520   Breast Reduction Surgery Unilateral (Single side)
  • 45523   Breast Reduction Surgery Bilateral (both sides) 
  • 45548   Removal of Breast Implant
  • 45551   Breast Implant Removal with Capsulectomy
  • 45553   Remove and Replace Breast Implants due to a complication
  • 45554   Remove and Replace Breast implants due to a complication
  • 45558   Breast Lift / Mastopexy
  • 31519   Mastectomy / Total Removal of Breasts
  • 31525   Mastectomy for Gynecomastia – excision of Breast Tissue (Male Breast Reduction)
  • 31563   Inverted Nipple Correction

Body Surgery – MBS Item Numbers

  • 30171   Lipectomy skin removal after weight loss  for an arm lift or thigh lift (2 excisions)
  • 30172   Lipectomy skin removal after weight loss (3 excisions or more)
  • 30175 – Radical Abdominoplasty for repair of rectus diastasis (NEW from 1st July 2022)
  • 30177   Lipectomy skin removal after weight loss – e.g. Tummy Tuck / Abdominoplasty
  • 30179   Circumferential lipectomy (Torsoplasty) skin removal after massive weight loss

Nose Surgery – MBS Item Numbers

  • 41671 Nasal Septum, Septoplasty Submucous Resection or closure of the septal perforation
  • 41672 Reconstruction of the nasal septum
  • 45635 Rhinoplasty, partial, involving correction of the bony vault
  • 45641 Rhinoplasty, total, including the correction of all bony and cartilaginous elements of the external nose, with or without autogenous cartilage or bone graft from a local site
  • 45644 Rhinoplasty, total, including the correction of all bony and cartilaginous elements of the external nose involving autogenous bone or cartilage graft obtained from a distant donor site, including obtaining of graft

Eyelid Surgery – MBS Item Numbers

Female Genital Surgery – MBS Item Numbers

  • 35534 Labiaplasty / Vulvoplasty

Scar Revisions – MBS Item Numbers

  • 45506 Scar Revision to Face
  • 45512 Scar Revision to Face
  • 45515 Scar Revision to Body
  • 45518 Scar Revision to Body

Cosmetic Surgeons vs Plastic Surgeons 

A plastic surgeon is a trained medical professional who specializes in correcting or reconstructing deformities, defects, or injuries of the body. On the other hand, a cosmetic surgeon is a physician who focuses on enhancing the appearance of an individual through surgical or nonsurgical cosmetic procedures.

To become a plastic surgeon, a doctor must complete a residency program in plastic surgery, which includes training in both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. However, a doctor who calls themselves a ‘cosmetic surgeon’ may not have the same level of training as a plastic surgeon.

Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) vs Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS)

In Australia, it’s important to choose a plastic surgeon who is a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) or the Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS). Both organizations have rigorous standards for membership, and their members have undergone extensive training and education in plastic surgery.

The ASPS is the main organization for plastic surgeons in Australia and focuses on promoting high standards of practice, ethics, and research in plastic surgery. 

The ASAPS is a specialized society within the ASPS that is focused specifically on the practice of aesthetic (cosmetic) plastic surgery.

Talk to an experienced and accredited specialist plastic surgeon

If you are considering a plastic surgery procedure, it is important to choose a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon who will prioritize your safety and wellbeing. Dr Mistry’s commitment to providing personalized and compassionate care makes him an excellent choice for anyone seeking plastic surgery.

At Dr Mistry’s practice, we understand that each patient has unique needs and goals. That’s why we offer a range of surgical and non-surgical procedures that can be tailored to meet your individual needs.