Plastic surgery is a surgical specialty involving the restoration, reconstruction, or alteration of the human body. It can be divided into two main categories: reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery. Reconstructive surgery includes craniofacial surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery, and the treatment of burns. While reconstructive surgery aims to reconstruct a part of the body or improve its functioning, cosmetic (or aesthetic) surgery aims at improving the appearance of it. Both of these techniques are used throughout the world.

Cosmetic surgery is just one of the many applications of plastic surgery.

Corresponding to a request from the person who wishes to use it, cosmetic surgery is not motivated either by a pathology or by its sequelae, but by the morphological consequences of aging (examples: head and neck lift, laser skin resurfacing, blepharoplasty, baldness , breast ptosis, etc.), pregnancy (breast ptosis, abdominal plasty), or non-pathological acquired or constitutional disgraces (examples: rhinoplasty, breast implants, liposuction, mastopexy). It includes invasive (i.e. surgical) and non-invasive (i.e. medical) therapeutic procedures. Not supported by social organizations, these acts must be carried out in France in strict compliance with the Kouchner law of March 2002 and its implementing decrees and circulars of 2005, by specialists authorized by law, in structures approved.

Cosmetic surgery can only be performed by surgeons competent in the anatomical territory of their specialty (for example eyelids by an ophthalmologist surgeon, or rhinoplasty by an ENT surgeon). Aesthetic medical acts cannot be “invasive” according to the definition of the Academy of Medicine (which defines “surgical” act as “an invasive medical act, for diagnostic or therapeutic aim, the performance of which is entrusted to a member of a medical profession having been duly trained and validated in an official surgical specialty, act performed under current regulatory conditions ”) and may not introduce into the body, by break-in or injection, of non-absorbable materials or substances. These medical procedures may only be performed by the same surgeons or by doctors specializing in dermatology. Only the hospital-university and ordinal qualification (Council of the Order of Physicians) gives the right to practice, university diplomas being only additional training.