Cosmetic vs Plastic Surgery (Yes, There’s a Difference): Why it Matters

In the land of before and after photos, it’s important to note that cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are not one in the same. The difference between the two types is slight, but knowledge of said distinction will help you when choosing a surgeon for a procedure.

Plastic surgery is the umbrella under which cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery lie. While plastic surgeons do perform procedures that are solely cosmetic, they are certified to correct or remove defects or abnormalities such as burns. Plastic surgeons perform reconstructive surgeries.

On the other hand, cosmetic surgery is performed to enhance the look of a body part, as in procedures like tummy tucks, breast augmentation and facelift surgery. Patients undergo these procedures on a voluntary basis.

A rule of thumb for choosing is surgeon is to pick someone who has experience in the type of procedure you want. Similarly, be sure your surgeon is board certified, and pay close attention to what he or she is certified in. Though a surgeon is certified, that doesn’t mean they have sufficient experience in the procedure you seek.

Keep in mind that, since there are no residency programs for cosmetic surgeons, fellowships are imperative. A surgeon that has fulfilled a fellowship has specialized knowledge and important experience in a certain type of surgery.