Plastic surgery can be used for both cosmetic and reconstructive reasons, and the terms are often used interchangeably. While similar, plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are actually different specialties. What is the difference between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon?
What is the Difference Between a Plastic Surgeon and a Cosmetic Surgeon?
The procedures and goals of both specialties are not the same. As a result, the training which plastic and cosmetic surgeons receive also differs.
- Plastic surgeons are more specialized in addressing birth defects, repairing damage from accidents, and other medical reasons.
- Cosmetic surgeons are best for people who wish to alter their natural appearance without an existing medical condition.
What is Plastic Surgery?
Plastic surgery aims to repair defects or damage on the face or body, and reconstruct areas which are dysfunctional. Plastic surgeons may receive some training in cosmetic surgery and aesthetic appearance, but most of their focus remains on reconstructive surgeries.
Some examples of plastic surgeries:
- Hand repair surgery
- Burn repair surgery
- Cleft lip or palate repair
- Mastectomy scar repair
- Breast reduction for chronic neck and back pain
- Scar revision surgery
- Reconstruction of lower extremities
- Trauma surgery
Plastic surgery may also be called reconstructive surgery.
What is Cosmetic Plastic Surgery?
Cosmetic plastic surgery is focused on improving appearance only, and is considered an elective surgery. A person does not have to have a medical condition in order to quality for cosmetic plastic surgery.
However, it’s important to note that cosmetic plastic surgery can be done for conditions which are no longer current, such as loose skin following significant weight loss or scarring from surgery.
Some examples of cosmetic plastic surgeries:
- Breast augmentation
- Tummy tuck
- Rhinoplasty (nose surgery)
- Chin or cheek enhancement
- Neck lift
- Brow lift
- Hair replacement or transplant
Cosmetic plastic surgery is also known as aesthetic surgery.
What are the Risks of Plastic Surgery?
Plastic and cosmetic surgeries can traumatize your body just like any other type of surgery. Both plastic and cosmetic surgeries carry their own risks.
- Poor scarring
- Nerve damage
- Complications from anesthesia
- Infection which can result in illness and potential revision surgery
- Skin breakdown, where the healthy and healing skin separate and must be removed
- Fluid buildup under the skin (seroma)
Tips to Prepare for Your Consultation
Since plastic and cosmetic surgeons have specific training and education based on their specialty, it’s important to choose the right type of surgeon for your procedure.
When deciding which type of plastic surgeon you should choose, remember that you should look for candidates who fit your needs best. It’s always important to ask plenty of questions when choosing the right surgeon for you.
Preparing for your consultation will equip you to determine if a surgeon is right for you.
Questions you may want to ask:
- Is your surgeon board certified?
- How many procedures has your surgeon performed?
- Does your surgeon specialize in the type of procedure you seek?
- What are the risks and benefits of the procedure?
- What kind of side effects can be expected after surgery?
- Will you need any help at home during recovery?
You may also want to…
- Discuss your motivations and goals with your surgeon
- Discuss your expectations and the realistic results of your procedure
- Ask questions about what you will need to do to prepare for the surgery
- Determine if the time needed for recovery fits in with your schedule; a restful recovery has the best chance of being successful