Cosmetic surgery is still surgery and should be treated like any other medical procedure.

You may think the terms cosmetic surgeon and plastic surgeon are interchangeable, but there are actually significant differences between the two certifications. This article seeks to educate readers on the differences between a cosmetic surgeon and an aesthetic plastic surgeon. Learn the difference in education, training, qualifications and certifications for a cosmetic surgeon vs plastic surgeon below.

Cosmetic Surgeon vs Plastic Surgeon Education and Training

While both cosmetic surgeons and plastic surgeons completed medical school internships and possibly a residency program, the differences involved are dramatic. Specialty training, residencies and fellowship programs are more rigorous for plastic surgeons who focus their education and training on both aesthetic/cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Furthermore, cosmetic surgeons initially trained in other specialties and added on cosmetic surgery to their practices without going through the rigorous training, residency and certification of plastic surgeons. Bottom line, to become a cosmetic surgeon, a physician doesn’t spend hours in the operating room under the supervision of a board-certified plastic surgeon as a board-certified plastic surgeon does. A cosmetic surgeon can simply spend a few weekends at seminars taught by other cosmetic surgeons and then return to their practice to offer cosmetic services.

Surgical Qualifications of a Cosmetic Surgeon vs Plastic Surgeon

Cosmetic surgeons are not typically trained in reconstructive aspects of surgery as well as a variable degree of cosmetic surgery. This means that if there is a functional problem, such as breathing difficulties associated with a deviated septum in a rhinoplasty patient or a breast cancer survivor seeking breast reconstruction, a cosmetic surgeon is not qualified to perform these procedures. Alternatively, a plastic surgeon is uniquely qualified to perform both cosmetic and reconstructive cases, as their education and training provides.

Cosmetic Surgeon vs Plastic Surgeon Board Certification Requirements

Board certification for plastic surgeons includes a post-graduate (after medical school) residency program and an additional three years of work focusing solely on plastic surgery. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is not an officially recognized medical board in most states. A physician who is board-certified in plastic surgery has undergone 6-8 years of surgery training after medical school ensuring safe delivery of care to their patients.

Other Important Considerations

Board-certified plastic surgeons in Las Vegas, L to R, Dr. Michael Edwards, Dr. Goesel Anson, and Dr. Terry Higgins.

Some cosmetic surgeons are only allowed to perform surgeries at an outpatient facility that is independently certified, possibly their office procedure room. This means that if the procedure should happen to go awry and you need to be transported to a nearby reputable hospital, your cosmetic surgeon may not have privileges to perform at that facility and therefore not be able to provide the necessary care for you. The hospital would need to find an available doctor to treat you in that circumstance, typically a plastic surgeon. It would also affect the cost of the procedure since additional medical personnel would be required to intervene.

It’s imperative to understand and appreciate what training is required for your desired procedure before choosing a cosmetic or aesthetic plastic surgeon. You should also check for board certification and know which hospitals grant privileges to your specific surgeon. For all patients seeking cosmetic enhancements, we overwhelmingly recommend foregoing a trip to a cosmetic surgeon and choosing an aesthetic plastic surgeon who has the advanced education, training, qualifications and credentials to give you the best possible result with minimal risks.

Schedule a Consultation with a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon in Las Vegas

Schedule a consultation today with one of our three board-certified plastic surgeons in Las Vegas at Plastic Surgery Associates, and know that you place yourself in the hands of some of the most skilled aesthetic plastic surgeons in the country.