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Are Cosmetic Surgeons and Plastic Surgeons the Same Thing?

The terms plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are often used interchangeably during conversation as if these therapies are the same. This isn’t quite the case. Plastic surgery may include cosmetic benefits, but beauty and appearance are not the main focus, as is the case with cosmetic surgery.

plastic surgeon

Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is an actual surgical specialty and is used to correct deformities and defects. Dysfunctions may be apparent from birth, or may be caused by serious injury or disease. These defects lead to improper functioning of the affected body part or parts, so must be surgically reconstructed. Plastic surgeons are medically trained to bring back functioning to many areas of the body, including those affecting craniofacial areas and the hands.

Reconstructive plastic surgery is typically covered by major insurance companies as being medically necessary to restore functioning of affected body parts. This type of surgery can save limbs and even a patient’s life in some cases. As well as reconstructing a dysfunctional body part, plastic surgery may have additional cosmetic benefits as a side effect of treatment.

Any doctor who is licensed to perform surgical procedures may perform plastic surgery as well. However, plastic surgeons receive special training and certification to perform their specialty services. When choosing a plastic surgeon, be sure that your selected doctor is board certified as a plastic surgeon, and not just a traditional doctor or surgeon.

Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is an elective process that serves no functional or necessary purpose. The only reason people choose to have cosmetic surgery is for attractiveness and aesthetic appeal. The body part that is being altered functions properly, but the patient would like to change the appearance. For example, most nose jobs are considered cosmetic if breathing is not affected and the patient simply desires a more attractive nose.

Cosmetic surgery is not typically covered by insurance companies as it is considered medically unnecessary and is only used to enhance a patient’s vision of attractiveness. Although plastic surgeons may provide cosmetic surgery, it does not mean the chosen procedures serve a medical purpose.

It is important to note that there are no complete cosmetic surgery training programs as a specialty available for a degree in the United States. Once these doctors have completed their plastic surgeon residency, they must acquire more training into specific areas since plastic surgery training does not cover every cosmetic surgical procedure.

There is also no requirement that a cosmetic surgeon be a board certified plastic surgeon. However, when you wish to have cosmetic surgery, it is important that you choose a board certified plastic surgeon who has then completed additional education and training in the specific procedure or procedures that you wish to have performed. As with plastic surgery, choose a cosmetic surgeon who has training and experience, and not just a regular doctor or surgeon.