Cosmetic vs. Plastic Surgery: Know the Difference

Cosmetic vs. Plastic Surgery: Know the Difference

Do you know the difference between a cosmetic surgeon and a plastic surgeon? If not, no worries! Most people think these two terms are interchangeable, but in reality, there are several vital differences between the two. The biggest variances pertain to education, experience and safety training that plastic surgeons get during their residency in the field of plastic surgery. Plastic surgeons who are board-certified must also obtain continuing education credits each year and many are leaders in innovative research for new and improved techniques that make procedures and recovery better for the patient.
Cosmetic surgery is an essential component of plastic surgery, but plastic surgery goes far beyond the superficial. Plastic surgery also encompasses reconstructive procedures that restore and repair the function as well as the appearance of the part of the body being operated on. So, while plastic surgeons study cosmetic surgery and learn the skills needed to perform these procedures, they also have more extensive training that prepares them for more difficult tasks. Plastic surgeons are decidedly more equipped for issues that may arise during surgery and have advanced skills for giving patients what they desire in terms of the outcome of their procedure.
Cosmetic Surgeons
Cosmetic surgery can be defined as procedures and techniques that are used to enhance a person’s appearance. Cosmetic surgery procedures include:

  • Breast Enhancements
  • Facial Contouring
  • Facial Rejuvenation
  • Body Contouring
  • Skin Rejuvenation

Cosmetic surgery is considered to be an elective surgery because it treats the aesthetic aspect and not the function of a particular part of the body. Cosmetic surgery can be performed by any licensed physician. For example, an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor can perform a rhinoplasty, but not at the same level as a plastic surgeon. These physicians lack the guidance of the appropriate credentialed board, which we will talk about in the next section. Those who call themselves cosmetic surgeons typically belong to another board and can actually be a specialist in any number of other medical areas which are not certified or acknowledged to perform cosmetic procedures to the highest standards.
What Separates Plastic Surgeons from Cosmetic Surgeons
Specialized Training
Plastic surgeons are specialists. They have extensive training and continuing education in the field of plastic surgery. This includes reconstructive surgery used to repair certain circumstances such as:

  • Scar Revisions
  • Hand Surgery
  • Lower Extremity Reconstruction
  • Congenital Defects
  • Burn Repair Surgery
  • Breast Reconstruction

Plastic surgeons have spent time sharpening their skills so that the patients they treat see exceptional results with less noticeable scarring and a more natural appearance. While other surgeons may be able to perform some of the same procedures as plastic surgeons, they do not have the training, experience and safety training that is needed. For instance, it may be easy for a non-board certified surgeon or physician to learn how to place a breast implant, and they may do it exceptionally well, but if complications occurred during the procedure, a surgeon who is an expert at breast reconstruction will be much more competent at handling any potential problem.
Board Certification
The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only medical specialty board that focuses on plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. It is the only board that is approved and acknowledged by The National Board of Medical Specialties. Board certified members are held to the highest standards in a variety of areas including skills, safety, ethics, and knowledge of their specialty. Board certified plastic surgeons are considered to be the best qualified professionals in their field.
Board certified plastic surgeons should have hospital affiliations. This is another important aspect that makes them different from a cosmetic surgeon. While they may actually perform their procedures in a surgical center, or even in their office, it is important that a surgeon have a hospital affiliation in case of needed hospitalization. This allows for the utmost safety during a procedure and during the recovery period.
If you are considering a procedure such as an abdominoplasty, breast augmentation or any other cosmetic surgery procedure, contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons. During your consultation, we can discuss the importance of a plastic surgeon in more depth and answer any questions that you may have. Our goal is to provide you with the safest and most worry-free experience possible. Finding the right surgeon is the first step to reaching your goals and isn’t something to be taken lightly. Let us help you! Contact us today!