Cosmetic Surgeon Versus Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon

With the popularity of cosmetic procedures in the Beverly Hills area, it’s a good idea to understand the difference between cosmetic surgeons and plastic and reconstructive surgeons. Although they may sound like the same thing, and most people use the terms interchangeably, there are some significant differences between a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and cosmetic surgeon.

Training & Certifications

Unfortunately, there is no trademark on the title of plastic surgeon. Indeed any medical doctor or even some dentists may call themselves plastic or cosmetic surgeons. The primary difference between plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeons lies in training and certification. Board-certified plastic surgeons must undergo very stringent training standards. Becoming board certified as a plastic surgeon requires three to five years of general surgery training following medical school, plus an additional two to three years in a dedicated plastic surgery fellowship. Plastic surgery is a specialty that’s recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties; plastic surgeons must pass oral and written examinations administered by the American Board of Plastic Surgery to become “board certified.” Board certified plastic surgeons are also required to keep their knowledge of plastic surgery current at all times in order to remain certified.

A board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon may repair a cleft palate, or may reshape the nose and repair a deviated septum, reconstruct breasts after breast cancer, and reconstruct a hand or leg after trauma while also performing cosmetic procedures such as facelifts, breast implants and liposuction. Medical practitioners who are not fully trained as plastic surgeons or not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery typically are not held to the same training standards. Virtually any physician can perform cosmetic surgery procedures. While doctors may focus on cosmetic surgery as a specialty if they choose, there is no required board certification process to become a cosmetic surgeon. Cosmetic surgeons typically limit their practices to simpler procedures such as liposuction, rhinoplasty or breast implants.

When choosing a plastic surgeon, it’s imperative to check their training background including medical school, and residency or fellowship in plastic surgery, as well as certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.


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