Plenty of people have questions about the difference between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon. One mistake that people may make between the two is assuming that they are the same type of surgeon when they are not.

Aesthetic VS Reconstructive
To begin describing the difference between the two surgeons’ it is first important to be able to define what plastic surgery is. The word plastic is taken from the Greek word “plastikos” which means to mold or shape. Typically, people have plastic surgery for restoration after a trauma or accident, an abnormal body part, cancer or a birth defect. When aesthetic surgery is performed, it is to either enhance or reshape tissue so that the patient’s appearance is improved. Basically, aesthetic surgery is one of the sub-specialties of plastic surgery. When people have, reconstructive surgery is it considered to be medically necessary and the patients’ health insurance may cover the surgery as well.

Cosmetic VS Plastic – Training
A plastic surgeon will complete medical school and then become board-certified. Then they must serve as a surgical resident for a minimum of three years during which they receive training for all the aspects of surgery and then they will spend three more years being focused on plastic surgery training. The complete training can take 6 to 8 years or more. Many plastic surgeons choose to go further in their training by training in areas of microvascular, craniofacial, hand, pediatric and aesthetic. It is this training that means the difference between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon.

Those who are cosmetic surgeons can belong to any type of medical specialty such as a general surgeon, dermatologist or internist and they have made the decision that they would like to offer cosmetic procedures. They can either choose to have a one-year cosmetic surgery fellowship to short weekend courses on subjects like liposuction, utilization of injectable and placing breast implants.

When choosing a plastic surgeon, it is so important that they are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery as this is the only board that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

A cosmetic surgeon may receive their certificate from the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery but this board is not recognized by the American Board or Medical Specialties. If a cosmetic surgeon says that they are board certified this can be misleading if you don’t know the right questions to ask during the consultation. Plastic surgeons have received aesthetic training and are a better choice for reconstructive surgery due to their extensive training.