What is the Difference Between Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery

What is the Difference Between Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery

Many people tend to think of cosmetic and plastic surgery as the same thing with the two terms often used interchangeably the two disciplines are vastly different.  Yes, both have the goal of improving the appearance of a patient the training and circumstances tend to be very different.  If you are still wondering what is the difference between plastic and cosmetic surgery, then let’s explore them further.

Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is used to improve the physical appearance of a patient and for the most part the procedures are elective and unnecessary for quality of life.  It is used to enhance your aesthetic appeal, your body already has perfect function.  The procedures most commonly performed by a surgeon can include, breast augmentation, rhinoplasty, facelifts, facial contouring, skin resurfacing and filler treatments such as botox.

Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is an area of specialty where a surgeon does reconstructive surgery to help fix birth defects, burns, and trauma.  It can correct flaws in the body that keep it from functioning properly.  You will find that many plastic surgeons can and will do cosmetic procedures but they undergo further training to perform plastic surgery.  Some procedures that are performed by a plastic surgeon would include, breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, skin grafts, cleft palates.

Different Training

In order to become a plastic surgeon you need to complete a post-graduate residency program.  If you want to become a board certified plastic surgeon it will require an extra two years of study in plastic surgery.  While cosmetic surgery will be part of the training in your residency program the focus is more on reconstructive procedures rather than cosmetic procedures.

Achieving the title of “Board Certified Plastic Surgeon” demonstrates your competency in the field along with the extra training you have undergone.  However it does not demonstrate that you have undergone training in many common cosmetic procedures.  Training in cosmetic surgery is largely complete after your residency training.

When choosing a local plastic surgeon it is in your best interest to ask your surgeon about their training and how they specialized.  Ask if they are board certified.  Get recommendations, most cosmetic or plastic surgeons will have a portfolio of before and after shots.  Take the time to look at those and see if they have already done the procedure that you want and how it turned out.  Look at online reviews to see how other patients feel about the doctor.