The Difference Between Cosmetic Surgery and Plastic Surgery

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Often when we hear plastic surgery we think of procedures used by celebrities to enhance their looks. This term has long been used by non-medical professionals to describe most cosmetic surgical procedures. There are significant differences in cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery. These differences are in the procedures and in the training a doctor receives.

Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is defined as a discipline of medicine that enhances the appearance with surgery or medical techniques. Any part of the body can be treated with a cosmetic procedure. These surgeries are performed on body parts that are functional but do not look the way the the patient wishes. Cosmetic surgery is usually an out-patient procedure that people elect to undergo.

Cosmetic surgeons do not have a residency program in cosmetic surgery. Their course of study involves finishing medical school, a residency program (or fellowship program), and then a post residency training in cosmetic surgery. This training can be completed through workshops, a fellowship program, and lectures. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery offers certifications to surgeons with extensive experience.

Cosmetic Surgery plastic surgery

Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is often not an elective procedure. The surgical specialty field is devoted to reconstructing faces and body parts damaged or disfigured by different events. These events can be birth defects, injury, and burns. Unlike cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery can require a long hospital stay. The field is used to help restore the function of body parts or reconstruct them.

Plastic surgeons finish medical school and then complete a residency in plastic surgery. After this residency or fellowship, the surgeon can become certified. Some plastic surgeons complete another residency for cosmetic surgery, but this is optional.

Cosmetic Surgery Procedures

There are many procedures that fall under the description of cosmetic surgery. These procedures are almost always used to enhance the looks of the patient. Some examples of cosmetic surgery include eye lifts, skin resurfacing, laser removal of birthmarks, and breast augmentation. This list is not exhaustive, but any procedure that is performed to change the way someone looks instead of repair the function of a body part or reconstruct a damaged feature is cosmetic surgery.

Plastic Surgery Procedures

Plastic surgery procedures can be small – to repair or remove a scar or large as in facial reconstruction after a severe injury. Advances have been made in plastic surgery that can now allow full face transplants for some patients. These transplants are reserved for severe injuries, such as burns or the complete destruction of facial features. Plastic surgeons that have completed a residency in cosmetic surgery may use different methods to finalize surgeries to create a more natural look to the end results.

Whether you need a plastic or cosmetic surgeon, there are many qualified surgeons throughout the United States. You will need to consider the quality of the surgeon’s practice, how he or she interacts with you, and of course, the quality of the surgeon’s work. Read testimonials, speak with previous patients, and consider the type of surgery you want or need.