The Truth Behind Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery

As an expert in the field of surgery, I have seen firsthand the confusion and misconceptions surrounding cosmetic and plastic surgery. These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two distinct specialties within the field. In this article, I will explain the difference between a cosmetic surgeon and a plastic surgeon, and why it's important to understand the distinction. Firstly, let's define each specialty. Plastic surgery is a broad field that encompasses a wide range of procedures aimed at restoring the body's normal appearance and function.

On the other hand, cosmetic surgery focuses solely on aesthetic procedures. This means that while all cosmetic surgeons are also plastic surgeons, not all plastic surgeons are cosmetic surgeons. According to Dr. Alan Matarasso, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), cosmetic surgery is considered a subspecialty of plastic surgery. This means that in order to become a cosmetic surgeon, one must first complete training in plastic surgery.

This distinction is important because it highlights the fact that cosmetic surgery is not just about enhancing one's appearance, but also requires a deep understanding of the body's anatomy and function. One common misconception is that cosmetic surgery is purely for vanity purposes, while plastic surgery is considered medically necessary. While this may be true in some cases, there is significant overlap between the two specialties when it comes to cosmetic procedures. In fact, in a survey conducted by the ASPS, 87% of respondents believed that surgeons should have special credentials and training in order to perform cosmetic procedures. The ASPS was founded in 1931 and represents doctors who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. These certifications demonstrate that a plastic surgeon has met the academic and performance standards necessary to perform safe and effective procedures.

On the other hand, elective aesthetic procedures can be performed by doctors from various fields of medicine, including plastic surgeons. In order to become a board-certified plastic surgeon, one must complete at least six years of surgical training, including an accredited plastic surgery training program. This rigorous training ensures that plastic surgeons have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform complex procedures safely and effectively. In contrast, doctors who advertise themselves as certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) do not meet the same criteria as board-certified plastic surgeons. While both cosmetic surgeons and plastic surgeons can perform a variety of procedures, including non-invasive and minimally invasive treatments, there is a key difference in their approach. Plastic surgeons have a deeper understanding of reconstructive surgery, which gives them more experience in the field.

This makes them better equipped to handle more extensive cosmetic surgeries, such as breast augmentations and tummy tucks. It's important for patients to confirm that their surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), which is the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to certify doctors in the specialty of Plastic Surgery. Only those who have been certified by ABPS can be called plastic surgeons. This certification is a testament to a surgeon's level of training and experience in plastic surgery. In conclusion, while cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are closely related specialties, they are not interchangeable terms. As an expert in the field, I highly recommend that patients do their research and choose a board-certified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic procedures they may be considering.

This will ensure that they receive safe and effective treatment from a highly trained and experienced professional.