The 5 Biggest Differences Between Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery

Believe it or not, nearly 18 million Americans underwent some type of cosmetic or surgical procedure in 2018. But what’s the difference between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery?

Distinguishing cosmetic and plastic surgery isn’t hard, once you understand what both involve. 

Want to learn more about it?

Check out the five biggest differences between cosmetic and plastic surgery below.

1. Plastic Surgery Restores Body Parts

You might be wondering: what does a plastic surgeon really do, anyway?

To answer your question, plastic surgeons focus on restoring body parts for people who have suffered from:

Plus, plastic surgeons have to complete a residency or fellowship for several years before they can even touch a scalpel. On top of that, they have to pass a test to qualify for certain medical boards too.

That being said, plastic surgery is a great way to address things like long-lasting scars. It can also take care of any damages caused to lower extremities like your hands and legs. Plastic surgery is a good option for those with cleft palates and traumatic burns as well.

Of course, a plastic surgeon can learn how to perform cosmetic procedures. However, their skills are usually more in the reconstruction department.

2. Cosmetic Surgery Fixes Superficial Things

So what is cosmetic surgery?

Cosmetic surgery fixes things on a person’s appearance. The main goal is to improve someone’s physical appearance, which can include everything from proportions to symmetry. 

Some of the most common cosmetic surgery operations include:

  • Tummy tucks
  • Liposuctions
  • Nose reshaping
  • Facelifts
  • Breast augmentation
  • Breast lifts
  • Breast reduction

Thinking about getting a cosmetic procedure anytime soon? Just make sure that your surgeon has the right certification first.

3. Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery = Different Credentials

As we mentioned above, plastic and cosmetic surgery have two completely different credentials. All this to say that some plastic surgeons also call themselves “cosmetic surgeons.” That’s why it’s key to find a trained plastic surgeon to complete your procedure. 

In case you are feeling clueless, most regulatory certifications come from official government bodies. Another perk of choosing a plastic surgery-trained physician is that they have the power to admit you to the hospital if necessary.

4. Plastic Surgeons Finish Post-Graduate Residencies

If you are still having a hard time telling the difference between cosmetic and plastic surgeons, think about it this way. Plastic surgeons must finish postgraduate residencies that are at least six years in length. That means that your plastic surgeon will have three years of plastic surgery and three years of general surgery under their belt.

Otherwise, they can undergo a five-year residency course for general surgeon training. This is in addition to their three-year residency for plastic surgery training. While plastic surgery residencies may include cosmetic surgery, they’re not always trained as well 

5. Cosmetic Surgeons Complete Training and Residency Programs

There aren’t any residency courses that are dedicated exclusively to cosmetic surgeons. That’s why cosmetic surgeons have to gain experience and training after they finish up their residency programs. This is typically done by completing a post-residency fellowship in cosmetic surgery training.

This can include prerequisites such as:

  • Four years in college
  • Four years in medical school
  • Four to six years in residency courses

Another related branch of cosmetic treatments is cosmetic dentistry. As you might expect, this involves dental procedures designed to improve someone’s appearance rather than merely their dental health. 

Pro tip: it’s the perfect complement to cosmetic plastic surgery.

More Differences Between Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery 

If you are looking for more differences between plastic and cosmetic surgery, you’ve come to the right place. First of all, the training required to become a cosmetic surgeon is much more intense than what plastic surgeons undergo.

However, we highly recommend that you choose a surgeon that’s certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. This guarantees that they are trained in procedures involving the:

  • Face
  • Breasts
  • Body

Not to mention that most plastic surgeons are trained in nonsurgical cosmetic procedures as well. This is in addition to the five-year residency program that they must go through too. 

On the other hand, almost any certified doctor is capable of performing cosmetic surgery. That’s why it is so important to do your online research before you choose the correct cosmetic surgeon for you. To do so, it helps to compare your doctor’s overall competence, experience, and training in certain cosmetic procedures.

Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery Shouldn’t Be Complicated

Here’s the deal. Cosmetic and plastic surgery shouldn’t be complicated. This is especially true in terms of telling the difference between the two.

Not sure whether it is worth investing in cosmetic plastic surgery? First of all, it pays to know exactly what you’re dealing with before you book an appointment.

For example, those of you who suffer from birth defects, traumas, and diseases may want to look into getting plastic surgery. On the flip side, people who are looking for simple touchups like tummy tucks and breast lifts should look into cosmetic surgery instead.

If you’re still stuck between a rock and hard place, have no fear. Practically all board-certified physicians can complete cosmetic surgery procedures with ease. So, no matter which way that you decide to go, you’ll be sure to be in the hands of a qualified physician.

Still having trouble making your surgery selection? In the end, it is ultimately up to you to decide which type of surgeon is right for you!

Are you curious about health and cosmetic procedures? Don’t hesitate to take a look at more of our blog to learn more.