Plastic Surgeon vs Cosmetic Surgeon (who will you choose?)

Surgery of any kind is serious business. Whether elective or not, it 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.

Ideology of Plastic vs Cosmetic Surgeons

To start out, one must understand that a plastic surgeons’ goal and training is to repair defects and reconstruct them such as: breast reconstruction, burn repair, scar revision, congenital defects, so on and so forth.

A cosmetic surgeons’ goal is solely aesthetic such as breast enhancement, facial rejuvenation, body contouring, you get the idea.

Moving on.

To Become a Plastic Surgeon:

One must complete a post graduate residency in plastic surgery of between 5 or 7 years. Post graduate meaning the 4 years that we spend working our way through college – well that’s just the beginning for these troopers.

  • 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.
  •  Once this is completed they take an oral or written exam depending on their schools protocol.

Take Away: A plastic surgeon MUST train in intense plastic surgery for two years at the bare minimum.

To Become a Cosmetic Surgeon

  • Complete the same 5 or 7 year residency but in any kind of surgery but not necessarily plastic surgery.
  • Then 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 at least two years of hands-on training in plastic surgery.

A cosmetic surgeon only needs to do a one year fellowship in cosmetic surgery and in fellowships hands-on training  could mean they handed a scalpel to the attending as the attending did the actual surgery.

teeny heartBut it’s interesting to know that neither of them are ever formally tested in any hands-on procedure – it is written or oral.

Ok, now that we’re clear on a few things, 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 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 which stands the reason that the U.S. is not regulating the ABCS, right? (although they inarguably have a prettier website).

You may also be interested in 4 Easy Steps for Choosing a Plastic Surgeon.

How Plastic Surgeons Become Board Certified

To become board certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a surgeon must have graduated from an accredited medical school and have completed at least 5 years of additional training as a resident plastic surgeon in a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Medical Education or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Then, if the surgeon has met the above qualifications, they must pass comprehensive written and oral exams. Check if you’re plastic surgeon is certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

How Cosmetic Surgeons Become Board Certified

In order to get certified with the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery the surgeon must spend a full year training in cosmetic surgery and have to perform a minimum of 300 individual cosmetic surgeries (in their own office on their own patients) on the face, breast, and body.

So, based on what I just read I would go with the Plastic Surgeon, however. I got my boobs from a Cosmetic Surgeon and they are the best I’ve ever seen. I got a facelift from a plastic surgeon and I’m not at all impressed.

What it boils down to it this. You can give a person art classes but you can’t make them an artist. There are good and bad plastic and cosmetic surgeons.

Good luck in your search!telling you like it is

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