Reconstructive and restorative cues improve public perception on the value of plastic and reconstructive surgeries

Helen Xun, Erica Lee, Pooja Yesantharao, Leen el Eter, Franca Kraezlin, Sarah Persing, Justin Sacks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Persistent public misconceptions of plastic and reconstructive surgery (PRS), ambiguity between cosmetic versus reconstructive surgical procedures, and subjective interpretation of aesthetics can result in undervaluing of the field. Our study analyzes how patient context (cosmetic or reconstructive/restorative cues) affect public perception of outcomes and value of surgery. Methods: We distributed Qualtrics™ surveys to laypersons via Amazon Mechanical Turk. Demographics were self-reported. The survey presented a series of pre- and post-operative photographs of PRS surgeries alongside either a cosmetic or reconstructive/restorative cue, followed by questions on values of procedure. Survey responses were analyzed using two-tailed Student's t tests and chi square analyses, univariate and multivariate analysis, and linear regression. Results: Of the 459 respondents, the mean age was 38.5 ± 12.1 years, and was 50.5% (232) male. The majority of respondents classified breast reconstruction as a cosmetic surgery (243, 66.8%), and was rated more attractive (p < 0.0005), higher impact on self-esteem (p < 0.001), and to be covered by health insurance (p < 0.0001) compared to breast augmentation. Reconstructive cued breast and facial procedures were viewed more favorably; the exception was gynecomastia reduction. Reconstructive classification had significant positive correlation with support for insurance coverage (R2 = 0.8268) and willingness to pursue (R2 = 0.5328). Conclusions: This study revealed more public support for reconstructive/restorative cued PRS cases over cosmetic cued PRS cases, and persistent misconceptions of breast reconstruction as a cosmetic procedure. Reconstructive or restorative cues can be used to educate the public and address skewed perceptions on the roles and value of PRS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2947-2956
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Cosmetic cues
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Public perceptions
  • Reconstructive cues
  • Reconstructive surgery


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