Surgery of any kind is serious business. Whether elective or not, surgery entails you going under anesthesia, and then someone cutting on you.
You better have a lot of confidence in the person you select to undertake your beauty enhancing procedure. So you begin your search and find that there are ‘plastic’ surgeons and ‘cosmetic’ surgeons. What exactly is the difference? I did a little research and here’s what I’ve found.
To Become a Plastic Surgeon:
One must complete a post graduate residency in plastic surgery of between 5 or 7 years.
- The 5 year residency is comprised of 3 years of general surgery and 2 years in plastic surgery. This accelerated path is reserved for those in the upper echelon of their class, from a top tier university.
- The 7 year residency is comprised of 5 years of general surgery and 2 years of plastic surgery.
- Take an exam, which is oral and written.
To Become a Cosmetic Surgeon
- Complete the same 5 or 7 year residency in any kind of surgery but not necessarily plastic surgery
- Enroll in a 1 year fellowship in cosmetic surgery. This is truly a year of hands-on experience in cosmetic surgery.
- It is a pass or fail and once completed they are a cosmetic surgeon.
Plastic Surgeon vs Cosmetic Surgeon
So basically, a plastic surgeon 100% for sure did training in plastic surgery whereas a cosmetic surgeon may just be a dentist with a one year fellowship in cosmetic surgery. Boom! And there you have it.
But it’s also interesting to know that neither of them are ever formally tested in any hands-on procedure, so experience and ‘before and after’ photos are important when narrowing down your choices.
Out of the gate it seems like a no brainer – a Plastic Surgeon would be my first choice because at least then I know that they studied actual plastic surgery for the bulk of their surgical schooling.
Ok, now that we’re clear on this, let’s talk about the next hurdle your surgeon needs to jump, board certification.
What is Board Certification?
Board certification is important when considering which plastic surgeon to use. The standard of practice in the U.S. is regulated by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). That being said, it’s important to know that the only plastic surgery board that is recognized by the ABMS is the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS).
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) isn’t even recognized by the ABMS (although they inarguably have a prettier website). Important to know.
Since I have quite a few readers from Canada, I’d also like to mention the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCSC). That’s the comparable board in Canada.
How Plastic Surgeons Become Board Certified
To become board certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a surgeon must have graduated from and accredited medical school and have completed at least 5 years of additional training as a resident surgeon in a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Medical Education or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
To sum it up, a plastic surgeon is probably the safest way to go. That being said, I have used both with both good and bad results. So I’m going to tell you what a cosmetic surgeon once told me. You can give a person art classes but you can’t make them an artist.
Good luck in your search!