While there are many close similarities between cosmetic surgeons and plastic surgeons, the two terms are not interchangeable. There are a few key differences that set them apart, and, depending on your individual goals, one type of surgery may be more appropriate for your needs than the other.
Aesthetic vs. Reconstructive
One of the primary differences between cosmetic and plastic surgeons lies in their general goals. Cosmetic surgeons focus on enhancing your appearance and natural features using aesthetic techniques, whereas the main focus of plastic surgery is to correct and repair defects, injuries and the normal function and appearance of certain parts of your body.
Certification & Training
Both plastic and cosmetic surgeons meet extensive schooling and training requirements, although the way in which they complete this training is different for each. To become board-certified, a plastic surgeon will complete a post-graduate residency program, which may include cosmetic surgery as only one piece of that training.
To become American Board of Cosmetic Surgery certified, cosmetic surgeons complete post-residency training through a fellowship program. Cosmetic surgery fellowship programs provide extensive training on all types of cosmetic surgery, including breast augmentation, body contouring and facial surgery.
Choosing the Right Cosmetic Surgeon
If you’re considering cosmetic surgery, the first step of the process is to choose the right cosmetic surgeon. Be sure to ask if the cosmetic surgeon you’re considering is certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.
You’ll also want to make sure that he or she has ample experience performing the specific surgery you’re interested in. Many cosmetic surgery practices will have before and after photos of previous surgeries they’ve completed to give you an idea of the kinds of results you can expect.