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These days the term 'plastic surgery' is often seen as synonymous with cosmetic surgery but plastic surgery is about much more than cosmetic surgery. It is about restoring normal human form and function. Thousands of New Zealanders now lead fully functional lives thanks to the life-saving and life- enhancing skills of plastic surgeons.

See Procedures for comprehensive information about surgical and non-surgical plastic surgery procedures and to talk to a qualified plastic and reconstructive surgeon about surgery options check our list of surgeons in your area at Find a Surgeon.

Reconstructive Surgery – The reconstructive side of plastic surgery, including microsurgery, focuses on repairing and covering up the destructive effects of accidents, disease and surgery. Plastic surgery deals with burns, major trauma to the tissue and limbs and the effects of some cancer treatments. Plastic surgery also corrects deformities which are the result of birth defects, such as a cleft palate or cleft lip.

Cosmetic Surgery – Operations which are primarily reconstructive also have an aesthetic or cosmetic component, with plastic surgeons concerned to normalize and improve appearance along with function. Other operations are entirely cosmetic. These include plastic surgery to reshape drooping eyelids, crooked or large noses, protruding ears, abnormal or asymmetrical body contours (including breasts of very different sizes and shapes), and deal with facial aging, loss of abdominal tone after childbirth, or birth marks.

Although only a relatively small part of the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery, cosmetic or aesthetic surgery is becoming increasingly important. Worldwide, the field is growing at a rate of 10-15% per annum. From minor “nips and tucks”, through body contouring and aesthetic breast surgery to a wide variety of facial restorative and enhancing procedures, this is an exacting and highly specialised branch of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Most plastic surgeons who become involved in cosmetic surgery will have sought further, super-specialized training, usually by a six to twelve month post-graduate fellowship attachment to a centre of excellence, in the craft. For economic reasons, most cosmetic plastic surgical procedures are not available in the public sector.

If you are considering going overseas for cosmetic surgery please read the information we provide about medical tourism. See procedures  for comprehensive information about the various cosmetic surgery procedures available and  cosmetic surgery faqs  for answers to some common questions.