Like most people, you may think that cosmetic surgery is exactly the same as plastic surgery. A majority of plastic surgeons opt to focus their practice on the first one and so, both terms are frequently used in the same manner. However, this is technically incorrect. Though they are closely related, these types of surgery are not one and the same.
Cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery alike are meant to improve the appearance of a patient, but they have different underlying philosophies directing the goals, research and training.
Cosmetic Surgery Aims to Enhance the Physical Appearance
This type of surgery entails principles, techniques and procedures focused on improving the appearance of a patient. Essentially, it aims to enhance symmetry, proportion and aesthetic appeal. This procedure can be done on all parts of the neck, head and body. Since the treated areas have normal functions, cosmetic surgery is only optional. It is performed by doctors from different medical fields, such as plastic surgeons.
Cosmetic surgery’s scope of procedures consists of:
Bread Enhancement: Augmentation, Reduction, Lift
Body Contouring: Gynecomastia Treatment, Liposuction, Tummy Tuck
Facial Contouring, Chin/Cheek Enhancement, Rhinoplasty
Facial Rejuvenation: Brow Lift, Eyelid Lift, Facelift, Neck Lift
Skin Rejuvenation: Botox, Filler Treatments, Laser Resurfacing
Plastic Surgery Aims to Repair Defects to Reconstruct Appearance and Normal Function
Plastic surgery is termed as a surgical specialty committed to reconstruct facial and body defects as a result of birth disorders, burns, disease and trauma. It aims to correct areas of the body that are not properly functional and are naturally reconstructive. Though majority of plastic surgeons choose to go through additional training and also perform cosmetic surgery, their surgical training is based on reconstructive plastic surgery. As a matter of fact, the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons name was changed to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in 1999 to strongly convey the message that “reconstructive and plastic surgeons are one and the same”.
Plastic Surgery Procedure Examples:
- Burn Repair Surgery
- Breast Reconstruction
- Congenital Defect Repair: Extremity Defect Repair, Cleft Palate
- Hand Surgery
- Scar Revision Surgery
- Lower Extremity Reconstruction
Plastic surgery training can be completed by means of a post-graduate residency program.
Physicians that have obtained plastic surgery board certification have to finish a general surgery residency and an additional two years in the specific field. Though the residency programs may include cosmetic surgery as part of a surgeon’s training, they usually do not come with training on each cosmetic procedure.
So, the “board certified plastic surgeon” title shows a particular level of training and experience relating to plastic surgery, but does not specify the same thing regarding cosmetic surgery, since the residency training needed to be get board certification in plastic surgery may not come with training regarding most common cosmetic procedures. It does not reveal whether or not the doctor is more trained in cosmetic surgery than a board certified physician in another area of expertise.
Cosmetic surgery training is principally completed after residency training.
At present, there are no residency programs in the US that are exclusively dedicated to this type of surgery. For this reason, cosmetic surgeons have to acquire training and experience after residency training has been completed. To do this, they have to complete fellowship following residency.