The Distinction Between Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery

As an expert in the field of plastic surgery, I am often asked about the difference between plastic and cosmetic surgery. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to two distinct specialties within the field of surgery. In this article, I will explain the differences between these two types of surgery and provide insight into the training and certification processes for plastic and cosmetic surgeons.

What is Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery is a broad term that encompasses both reconstructive and aesthetic procedures. Reconstructive plastic surgery is used to treat parts of the body that have been affected by infections, tumors, diseases, birth defects, developmental anomalies, or trauma.

This type of surgery is considered medically necessary and may be covered by health insurance. Aesthetic plastic surgery, on the other hand, focuses on improving or reshaping parts of the body for aesthetic purposes. This includes procedures such as breast augmentation, tummy tucks, and facelifts. While both types of plastic surgery require extensive training and expertise, they have different objectives and approaches.

The Difference Between Cosmetic Surgery and Plastic Surgery

Many people mistakenly believe that cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are one and the same. However, this is not technically correct.

Cosmetic surgery is actually a subspecialty of plastic surgery. This means that all cosmetic surgeons are also trained in plastic surgery, but not all plastic surgeons are trained in cosmetic surgery. When it comes to certification, a plastic surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. If that surgeon performs a tummy tuck or breast augmentation, those procedures are considered cosmetic. On the other hand, a cosmetic surgeon may refer to themselves as board-certified, but this can be misleading if you don't know the right questions to ask.

The training and certification process for a board-certified cosmetic surgeon is very different from that of a board-certified plastic surgeon.

How to Find a Qualified Plastic Surgeon

If you are considering any type of cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, it is important to consult with a qualified plastic surgeon. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is a great resource for finding a reputable and experienced plastic surgeon in your area. While plastic surgery residency programs may include some training in cosmetic surgery, it is not the main focus. On the other hand, cosmetic surgeons have completed a 1-year fellowship exclusively in cosmetic surgery, certified by the American Academy of Aesthetic Surgery. This specialized training allows them to perform a wide range of aesthetic procedures with precision and expertise.

The Expert Opinion

To gain further insight into the differences between plastic and cosmetic surgery, I consulted with three ASPS member surgeons.

They all agreed that while plastic surgeons are trained in both aesthetic and reconstructive procedures, cosmetic surgeons are only trained in cosmetic surgery. Dr. Steven H. Turkeltaub, a board-certified plastic surgeon, explained that for plastic surgeons to be certified, they must go beyond their already extensive training in plastic, reconstructive, aesthetic, and general surgery. On the other hand, Dr.

Steven J. White, a board-certified cosmetic surgeon, emphasized that elective aesthetic procedures can be performed by doctors from various fields of medicine, including plastic surgeons.

The Bottom Line

In summary, the main difference between plastic and cosmetic surgery is their focus and objectives. Plastic surgery is intended to correct dysfunctional areas of the body and is considered reconstructive in nature. Cosmetic surgery, on the other hand, is an elective procedure that aims to improve or enhance the aesthetics of the face, breasts, and body.

Both types of surgery require extensive training and expertise, but they have different approaches and certifications. If you are considering any type of plastic or cosmetic surgery, it is important to do your research and consult with a qualified and experienced surgeon. By understanding the differences between these two specialties, you can make an informed decision about which type of surgery is right for you.

Leave Reply

All fileds with * are required