Have you ever wondered what the difference is between cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery? Perhaps you’ve always assumed they’re one and the same.
If a friend, coworker, or loved one had cosmetic surgery, they may assume it was done by a plastic surgeon. Or if someone had surgery to fix burned skin, they may assume it was done by a cosmetic surgeon.
Cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are actually categorized as two distinct types of procedures, even though many surgeons can perform both. Let’s explore what these procedures are and how they are different.
What Is Cosmetic Surgery?
Cosmetic surgery is focused on enhancing the appearance of the body, and making the patient look aesthetically appealing – with symmetry, proportion, and fullness as primary goals.
Cosmetic surgery can be performed anywhere on the body, including the face. And because cosmetic surgery does not fix impaired function of a body part, only the appearance of it, it’s considered by the medical industry and by insurance companies to be elective.
Some examples of cosmetic procedures are:
- Breast augmentation, reduction, and lift
- Facial contouring, such as rhinoplasty and cheek enhancement
- Body contouring, such as tummy tuck and liposuction
- Skin procedures, such as BOTOX®
What Is Plastic Surgery?
Plastic surgery is focused on the reconstruction of a body part, correcting problems such as burns, disorders, or traumatized organs or tissues. Plastic surgery is reconstructive surgery, not cosmetic surgery.
Some examples of plastic surgery procedures are:
- Breast reconstruction (to correct issues caused by birth defect, disease, or trauma)
- Burn repair
- Birth defect correction, such as for a cleft palate
- Scar revision for large or very noticeable scars
Training and Certifications for Surgeons
Most plastic surgeons also perform cosmetic surgery. However, cosmetic surgeons only receive training related to cosmetic procedures.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery certifies cosmetic surgeons in various categories, including:
- Breast surgery
- Tummy tuck
- Facial surgery
The American Board of Plastic Surgery certifies plastic surgeons in six categories:
- Hand surgery
- Reconstructive surgery
- Trauma surgery
- Congenital defect repair
- Cosmetic surgery
Because of this, plastic surgeons are qualified to perform reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery.
Which Surgeon Is Right for a Patient?
The answer to whether a patient needs a plastic surgeon or a cosmetic surgeon depends on the type of procedure he or she needs to get done, and why. If it’s a procedure to fix the appearance of a body part that is functioning properly and normally, then the patient needs a cosmetic surgeon.
If the patient needs reconstructive surgery to fix a dysfunctional body part because of an accident, burn, or birth defect, they will need a plastic surgeon.
Since many plastic surgeons also perform cosmetic procedures, doesn’t that mean the patient should always go to a plastic surgeon? Not necessarily.
Surgeons develop expertise and experience in certain categories of training they received. It is possible for a plastic surgeon to specialize and have a wealth of experience in trauma and congenital defect repair procedures but not cosmetic surgery. It is also possible for a cosmetic surgeon to have expertise in breast augmentation procedures and body contouring but not facial contouring.
Because of situations like these, it’s important that patients get their procedures done by a surgeon who is well experienced and knowledgeable in the specific type of procedures they need.
Elective Medical Practice Business Experts
New York-based Cosmetic Medical Partners has more than 15 years of experience serving medical clinics and practices. Our company helps doctors and investors in the development, rollout, management, and marketing of cosmetic and elective medical treatments.
If you are a doctor, marketer, or investor who wants to begin or better manage a medical venture – whether entering new markets or growing your practice nationally or internationally – Cosmetic Medical Partners will partner with you and help your practice grow and thrive.
To schedule a consultation or to hear more about how we can help you, call (718) 268-6060 or fill out our online request form now. We look forward to helping you reach for the stars as you help people live more confidently – and look more beautiful.