The Distinction Between Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery

As an expert in the field of plastic surgery, I have witnessed a significant rise in the number of individuals opting for cosmetic procedures. While health insurance rarely covers the cost of these procedures, more and more people are willing to invest in their appearance. The most common cosmetic surgeries include breast augmentation, liposuction, nose remodeling, eyelid surgery, tummy tuck, and facelifts. However, there seems to be some confusion surrounding the terms cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery.

Are they the same thing? Let me clear up any misconceptions. While many plastic surgeons may also perform cosmetic procedures, their training and focus are primarily on reconstructive plastic surgery. This means that they specialize in improving a person's appearance as well as reconstructing facial and body tissue defects caused by diseases, trauma, or congenital disorders. On the other hand, a certified cosmetic surgeon has undergone additional training and has a specialization that goes beyond what is required for plastic surgery certification. The training and experience needed to become a certified cosmetic surgeon are quite different from those required to become a board-certified plastic surgeon. A plastic surgeon must graduate from an accredited medical school and complete at least five years of postgraduate medical education, including three years of general surgery and two years of plastic surgery.

This rigorous training ensures that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform complex reconstructive procedures. However, when it comes to cosmetic surgery, the training and certification process is not as strict. A doctor who performs cosmetic procedures may come from various fields of medicine, including plastic surgery. This means that their level of training and experience may vary greatly. Therefore, it is crucial to choose a doctor who is certified in plastic surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. It is also important to understand that the philosophies and goals of cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are different.

While both aim to improve a patient's body, they have distinct objectives and approaches. Plastic surgery is intended to correct dysfunctional areas of the body and is, by definition, reconstructive in nature. On the other hand, cosmetic surgery focuses on enhancing a person's appearance and may not necessarily address functional issues. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the most common cosmetic procedures (invasive and minimally invasive) include breast augmentation, liposuction, nose reshaping, eyelid surgery, tummy tuck, facelifts, and more. It is worth noting that a significant number of plastic surgeons choose to specialize in cosmetic surgery, which is why the terms are often used interchangeably. In fact, in 1999, the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons changed its name to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to emphasize that plastic and reconstructive surgeons are one and the same.

This change was made to avoid any confusion between the two terms and to communicate more effectively with patients.