The Difference Between Plastic Surgery and Cosmetic Surgery

As a board-certified plastic surgeon, I have encountered many patients who are confused about the difference between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. In this article, I will explain the distinction between these two specialties and what qualifications you should look for when choosing a surgeon for your desired procedure.

Plastic surgery

is a broad category of procedures that includes both cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery. Reconstructive procedures are performed to restore the appearance and function of the body after an injury, illness, or congenital problem.

On the other hand, cosmetic surgery is focused on enhancing a person's appearance through surgical techniques. If you've always thought that cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery were the same thing, you're not alone. A significant number of plastic surgeons choose to focus their practice on cosmetic surgery and, as such, the terms are often used interchangeably. However, this is not technically correct. Cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are closely related specialties, but they are not the same thing. While both degrees qualify a professional as a board-certified surgeon, only the American Board of Plastic Surgery is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialists.

This means that while both plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons have completed medical school and residency training, only plastic surgeons have completed specific training in plastic surgery. The training, experience, and knowledge needed to become a board-certified cosmetic surgeon reflect a specialization that goes beyond what is needed to become certified in a related discipline, such as plastic surgery. Upon completing their medical studies, a board-certified plastic surgeon first serves as a surgical resident for at least 3 years, where they receive rigorous training in all aspects of surgery, and then 3 years of specific training in plastic surgery. It is always important to confirm that a plastic surgeon has been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to certify doctors in the specialty of Plastic Surgery. Only ABPS graduates can call themselves plastic surgeons. To find the most qualified doctor for a specific cosmetic procedure, you must compare the overall training, experience, and proven competence of doctors (resident and post-residency) with respect to that specific cosmetic procedure. When considering the difference in training between plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons, a woman should initially check to see if her prospective surgeon is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

This is especially important because there are currently no residency programs in the United States dedicated solely to cosmetic surgery. While many plastic surgeons choose to complete additional training and also perform cosmetic surgery, the basis of their surgical training remains reconstructive plastic surgery. Some other lesser-known plastic surgery procedures include carpal tunnel surgery, microsurgery, rhinoplasty, and peripheral nerve surgery. Therefore, the title of “board-certified plastic surgeon” indicates a certain level of training and experience with respect to plastic surgery, but it does not indicate the same with regard to cosmetic surgery, as the residency training required to become certified in plastic surgery may not include training on many common aesthetic procedures. So what does this mean for patients seeking cosmetic procedures? It means that when considering a surgeon for your desired procedure, you should look for a board-certified cosmetic surgeon. A facial plastic surgeon is trained in otolaryngology and performs cosmetic facial surgery, while an oculoplastic surgeon can perform cosmetic surgery around the eyes after an ophthalmology residency.

These surgeons have completed additional training and have a specific focus on cosmetic procedures. While both cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are concerned with improving the patient's body, the general philosophies that guide training, research, and goals for patient outcomes are different. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, I have received extensive training in both reconstructive and cosmetic procedures. This allows me to provide my patients with a comprehensive approach to their desired results. Plastic surgery is defined as a surgical specialty dedicated to the reconstruction of facial and body defects due to congenital disorders, trauma, burns, and diseases. As a plastic surgeon, I am passionate about helping my patients achieve their desired appearance and function through reconstructive procedures.

However, I also understand the importance of cosmetic surgery in enhancing one's self-confidence and self-image.

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