The Difference Between a Plastic Surgeon and an Orthopedic Surgeon



Plastic surgeons and orthopedic surgeons are both highly trained medical professionals who treat patients that are referred to them, and they evaluate and diagnose their medical condition that requires surgery. Each is a surgical subfield and both can be pursued as a general or specialized practice.

Plastic surgeons like Rimma Finkel MD are involved in cosmetic or reconstructive procedures, while orthopedic surgeons treat patients with musculoskeletal trauma such as spinal disorders or sports injuries. All surgeons share relative training requirements and some of the same general duties. The type of surgery they perform and other treatments they may use can vary based on their field of specialty. For example, as a plastic surgeon, there are five main areas you can specialize in:



Among the most common subspecialties for an orthopedic surgeon are:


Plastic Surgeon: Reconstructive

Life as a plastic surgeon isn’t always enhancing one’s appearance with lip injections and facelifts, although each is common and an important procedure, there are numerous responsibilities a plastic surgeon does that could be of importance for you and your body.

Reconstructive Surgery

Reconstructive surgery is all about repairing and restoring function. It is performed to repair and reshape bodily structures affected by birth defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma/injuries, infections, tumors, and disease.

Breast Reconstructive Surgery

Following a mastectomy or injury, one has the option to undergo breast reconstructive surgery. In order to rebuild the breast, plastic surgeons utilize several plastic surgery techniques to ultimately restore the breast to near normal shape, appearance, and size to give you back what you’ve lost.


Two reconstructive techniques are implant expanders and flap construction.


Typically following breast reconstructive surgery is nipple reconstruction, and is often done as an outpatient procedure. Your plastic surgeon will offer you a few options when it comes to creating the nipple areola and it’s entirely dependent on what works best for you.

Burn Reconstructive Surgery

Surgery will not be able to remove a patient’s burn scars entirely but will help improve basic functions and make scars less noticeable. While scarring can limit the normal motion of the neck, shoulder, hands, or legs, surgery often helps to release this contracture and can help a patient regain range of motion. Facial scarring that leads to problems with the eyelids, lips, nose, or hair loss can also be helped with reconstructive burn surgery. Scars that are abnormally thick, wide, or discolored might also be improved by a variety of operative and non-operative methods.

Moh’s Reconstruction

Skin Cancer Excision and Reconstruction (Moh’s) are for non-melanoma skin cancer and actinic keratosis. During the procedure, the tumor is cut from the skin in thin layers. The layers of the tumor are then viewed through a microscope to check for cancer cells, continually being removed until no more cancer cells are seen.


Aesthetic Surgery

Aesthetic surgery (cosmetic plastic surgery) includes surgical and nonsurgical procedures that enhance and reshape structures of the body to improve appearance and confidence.

Cosmetic Surgery For Face



Cosmetic Surgery For Breasts

Cosmetic Surgery For the Body


Cosmetic facial fillers are a completely safe, less invasive alternative of plastic surgery. They stimulate the body’s natural production of collagen to give a youthful appearance, although not permanent.





Always be sure to speak with your plastic surgeon to discuss which option, whether it be more invasive and permanent to noninvasive and temporary, will work best for you and your body.


Orthopedic Surgeon: Foot & Ankle Subspecialty

An orthopedic surgeon is a specialized care provider who focuses on diagnosing and treating foot and ankle injuries and conditions related to the musculoskeletal system. While many physicians are familiar with the foot, a foot doctor’s entire time and energy are focused on the 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 ligaments, tendons, and muscles. If you have a health complaint or suffered an injury, your doctor may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon so you can get more specialized care.


Achilles Tendon Reconstruction

Your Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in your body. It’s a strong, fibrous cord in your lower leg that helps you to run, jump, and walk. In some cases, your Achilles tendon can tear or rupture due to a strong force, for example, by suddenly pivoting your foot.

Another cause for the consideration of Achilles tendon reconstruction is tendinitis or the degeneration of the Achilles tendon. Each has a high chance to cause pain and stiffness and can be relieved with reconstructive surgery, although speaking with your trusted orthopedic surgeon will give you the best direction.


Joint surgery can offer several benefits, and relief of pain is the most important benefit of joint surgery. Many people with arthritis have constant pain. Some of this pain can be relieved by rest, heat and cold treatments, exercise, splints, and medication, but when these therapies don’t lessen the pain, surgery may be considered.


Arthroscopy allows the surgeon to see inside your joint without making a large incision. Surgeons can even repair some types of joint damage during arthroscopy, with pencil-thin surgical instruments inserted through additional small incisions. Doctors use arthroscopy to help diagnose and treat a variety of joint conditions, most commonly those affecting the:

Diabetic Foot & Ankle Problems

Living with diabetes does not mean having to live with frequent foot and ankle pain. This often happens because of poor circulation and nerve damage, ultimately dulling pain and awareness and causing further severe injuries. Whether it be therapy or surgery, your specialized orthopedic surgeon can help to guide you in the direction best for you and your body.

Foot & Ankle Problems, Trauma, and Reconstruction

No matter what you call it, the goal is the same – to help your foot function better and better, and sometimes the best way to overcome chronic pain or correct a structural problem is with reconstructive surgery. The procedure utilizes both open arthrotomy and arthroscopy. In some cases, ankle surgery may require the use of hardware, such as pins, to secure the ankle and reestablish stability.

It’s not surprising a joint, such as the ankle, that endures daily stress can get to this point. The good news is that in most cases, stability to the foot and ankle are able to be restored in most individuals through surgical means.


The Difference Between a Plastic Surgeon and an Orthopedic Surgeon

Each specialty can dramatically improve an individual’s day to day life by providing a happy, healthy lifestyle. Although similar in a lot of ways, the difference between a plastic surgeon and an orthopedic surgeon is that plastic surgeons are involved in cosmetic or reconstructive procedures, while orthopedic surgeons treat patients with musculoskeletal issues such as spinal deformities or sprains.

published on Wednesday, May 8th, 2019