A lot of people use the terms cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery interchangeably, but there is a big difference between a plastic and a cosmetic surgeon. Understanding the difference is helpful in understanding your procedure, as well as your provider’s level of education.
What is plastic surgery?
Plastic surgery is reconstructive in nature, and is not always considered elective. Some procedures that are considered plastic surgery include;
- Breast reconstruction
- Cleft Pallet repair
- Scar revision surgery
Who is a plastic surgeon?
Plastic surgery is usually the first discipline that cosmetic surgeons master before they move on to a more specialized focus. These physicians get certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons by showing they’ve mastered five plastic surgery procedures and one cosmetic one.
What is cosmetic surgery?
Cosmetic surgery is a surgery designed to improve someone’s overall physical appearance and the surgery is always elective.
Some common cosmetic surgeries include;
- Breast enhancements, like lifts or augmentations
- Facial contouring, like chin or cheek implants
Who is a cosmetic surgeon?
Cosmetic surgery is actually a sub-category of plastic surgery, designed to allow physicians to specialize in cosmetic procedures. To get board certified, surgeons must continue their training after their residency, to include a one year fellowship focused on cosmetic procedures. They must prove that they’ve mastered five traditional cosmetic procedures in order to receive their certification.
Why the confusion?
The confusion of cosmetic surgery vs. plastic surgery comes because many surgeons do both. Board certification is optional. Any licensed surgeon can legally perform cosmetic surgery, but their certification and education will tell you if they’ve reached a higher level of expertise with cosmetic procedures.