Plastic Surgeon vs Cosmetic Surgeon: Understanding the Differences

As an expert in the field of plastic surgery, I am often asked about the difference between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are some key distinctions that set them apart. Firstly, it's important to note that not all plastic surgeons perform cosmetic surgery as part of their practice. In fact, some may specialize solely in reconstructive plastic surgery. On the other hand, cosmetic surgeons may also use the title of plastic surgeon.

This can lead to confusion for patients seeking specific procedures. One of the main differences between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon is their training and certification process. To become a board-certified cosmetic surgeon, one must undergo specialized training that goes beyond what is required for board certification in a related discipline, such as plastic surgery. This means that a certified cosmetic surgeon has a more focused and specialized skill set when it comes to performing aesthetic procedures. On the other hand, the foundation of a plastic surgeon's training remains reconstructive plastic surgery. This means that they have a broader range of skills and knowledge when it comes to both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures.

Many plastic surgeons also choose to undergo additional training in cosmetic surgery, but their primary focus remains on reconstructive procedures. In fact, the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons changed its name to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in 1999 to emphasize that plastic and reconstructive surgeons are essentially one and the same. This was done to convey the message that both types of surgeons have the necessary skills and expertise to perform both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. While both plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons may have overlapping skills and expertise, their practice objectives are different.

Cosmetic surgery

focuses on enhancing a person's appearance, while plastic surgery aims to reconstruct and improve function in areas of the body that have been affected by injury, disease, or birth defects. This means that the procedures performed by each type of surgeon may vary significantly. When it comes to choosing a surgeon for a specific procedure, it's important to understand the differences between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon.

If you are seeking a procedure that is primarily focused on improving your appearance, then a certified cosmetic surgeon may be the best choice for you. However, if you require a more complex procedure that involves both aesthetic and functional aspects, then a plastic surgeon may be better suited to meet your needs.