It is common for people to use the terms plastic surgeon and cosmetic surgeon interchangeably. Overtly, there is no harm in using both terms for the same reason but covertly, there is a significant difference between both specialists. Imagine the following two cases:
Case 1: A patient is suffering from burns on the face
In this case, the patient has met with severe burns on her face and hence needs a plastic surgeon to help her with reconstructive burn surgery.
Case 2: A patient wants to enhance her facial appearance.
In this instance, the patient has no physical injury but wishes to opt for a procedure to get back her youthful facial appearance with the help of cosmetic surgery.
Going through these two examples gives a clear difference between the job of a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon.
Now that you are aware of the basic difference, let’s move on and know in detail about these two specialist surgeons.
Who is a plastic surgeon?
As you might have sensed, a plastic surgeon is a medical doctor who has done a residency program in plastic surgery. This medical school usually lasts for 5-7 years and imparts training in both aesthetic and reconstructive surgery.
The specialist performs surgeries that involve reconstructing or repairing damaged and at times, missing body parts. Some of the common surgeries that a plastic surgeon performs include:
- Breast reconstruction
- Burn repair
- Scar revision
- Congenital defect repair like cleft palate
- Hand surgery and more
Plastic surgeons receive a comprehensive education in both reconstructive procedures (such as repairing defects from injuries, congenital conditions, or cancer) and aesthetic procedures (cosmetic surgery).
Most centers in India provide training in plastic surgery after the surgeon has done comprehensive training for 3 years in general surgery. Plastic surgeons spend more than 80% of their training in knowing the nuances of reconstructive surgeries including breast reconstruction, cleft palate, etc. Likewise, the surgeon spends around 20% learning about cosmetic procedures. The American Board of Plastic Surgery needs a plastic surgeon to have carried out 150 cosmetic surgeries before becoming eligible for a board certified cosmetic surgeon.
Who is a cosmetic surgeon?
A cosmetic surgeon is a plastic surgeon who has received rigorous training in improving the patient’s overall appearance. The training of a cosmetic surgeon focuses completely on aesthetic procedures. Surgeons aspiring to get certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery need to perform at least 300 cosmetic procedures.
More than a decade ago, people considered cosmetic surgery as “vanity surgery”. Things have changed significantly today with aesthetic procedures becoming as important as reconstructive treatments.
Education and Training
The table below furnishes information on the requisite qualification and training for both plastic and cosmetic surgeons.
|Plastic Surgeon||Cosmetic Surgeon|
|Education||Comprehensive education in aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery and reconstructive procedures like congenital conditions, cancer, and correcting defects due to injuries||Comprehensive education in plastic surgery plus specific training on cosmetic procedures under the guidance of a reputed board.|
|Training||Integrated residency training which subsumes General Surgery (3 years) and Plastic Surgery (3 Years) OR
Independent residency program in General Surgery (5 years) and Plastic Surgery (3 years) The program may also include training in cosmetic surgery.
|Residency training program (3-5 years) in a selected discipline followed by fellowship training in cosmetic surgery. The latter includes training in all the aesthetic procedures of the human body, specifically the face and the breast.|
The Irony regarding cosmetic surgery
Just like plastic surgery, cosmetic procedures are equally painstaking to perform, as they require extreme precision. The irony happens when less or non-qualified people enter the fray and bring a bad name to this profession.
- Doctors with no cosmetic surgery certifications or acknowledgment also call themselves qualified and board-certified cosmetic surgeons.
- In many cases, so-called surgeons with no medical training at all have opened cosmetic surgery clinics, posing severe risks to the health of the patients.
- Doctors with surgical residencies but non-accredited training also perform cosmetic procedures
When choosing a cosmetic surgeon, it is therefore critical to ensure the credibility of the expert. Only an experienced and duly trained cosmetic surgeon can tackle the situation if things do not go as per plan during surgery, like a breast implant or a facelift. So, whether you are looking for a cosmetic surgeon in the United States, India, or elsewhere, make sure that the concerned surgeon holds due qualification and eligibility as per the norms of the requisite country.
Feel comfortable at ICS
Remember, wearing a white coat is easy but only an expert with an adept background of proper training and expertise in cosmetic surgery can justify its importance. Sensing the fine line between plastic and cosmetic surgery, the experts at ICS hold dexterity in performing reconstructive and aesthetic procedures with due precision.
We strive to live up to the towering expectations of our patients and it feels great to see them satisfied. At ICS, under the supervision of experienced and duly certified surgeons, you will be in safe hands.