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A patient recently asked me about the difference between a "Plastic Surgeon" and a "Cosmetic Surgeon."
Is there a difference between a Plastic Surgeon and a Cosmetic Surgeon? The answer is yes.
While both Plastic Surgeons and Cosmetic Surgeons perform some of the same procedures, the main distinction lies in the type of training completed to perform these procedures. The prerequisites are quite different.
Plastic surgeons fall into one of three groups.
- Some plastic surgeons, myself included, start their concentrated plastic surgery education/training immediately after medical school in a rigorous five to seven-year program.
- Others complete three years of general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopaedic surgery, otolaryngology, or urology residency and then transition into a two or three years of concentrated plastic surgery education. This is yet another rigorous path.
- Finally, others start a plastic surgery fellowship after completing one of the following types of residencies: neurosurgery, general surgery, orthopaedic surgery, otolaryngology, or urology. This too is an arduous path to becoming a plastic surgeon.
Plastic surgeons are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Cosmetic surgeons can be chiropractors, general surgeons, gynecologists, obstetricians, dermatologists, family physicians, etc. who have decided that they want to perform cosmetic procedures. The training can be anywhere from a one-year cosmetic surgery fellowship to short courses on how to perform liposuction, botox injections, etc. Cosmetic surgeons are board certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons.
All plastic surgeons learn how to perform both cosmetic surgery AND reconstructive surgery. Most, not all, cosmetic surgeons are not well-versed in reconstructive surgery.
In short, some believe that the path to becoming a plastic surgeon is more rigorous than the path to becoming a cosmetic surgeon. For a more vigorous opinion on this subject, you can visit the blog of one of my fellow plastic surgeon colleagues: Becoming A Plastic Surgeon.For more information about the training and background of both plastic and cosmetic surgeons, as well as the nuances, read: What Is The Difference Between Plastic Surgeon and Cosmetic Surgeon?