Oftentimes, the terms “cosmetic” and “plastic” surgeon are used interchangeably by the general public. However, they should not be confused, as they are simply not the same!
What’s the difference?
Many people believe that a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon are the same, but, in fact, there are differences between these two medical professional specialties. Cosmetic and plastic surgeons have different requirements for medical training and accreditation.
Following completion of medical school, a board-certified plastic surgeon will first serve as a surgical resident for at least 3 years where they will undergo rigorous training in all aspects of surgery, this is then followed by 3 years of focused plastic surgery training. The entire process can take up to 6 to 8 years or more to complete and many further their training in fellowships including microvascular, craniofacial, hand, paediatric and aesthetic. This is a primary difference between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon.
A practitioner referring to themselves as a “cosmetic surgeon” might belong to any medical specialty. He/she could be a general surgeon, gynaecologist, dermatologist, family physician, etc. who has decided that they want to perform cosmetic procedures. The training is not as extensive as a plastic surgeon and can be anywhere from a one-year cosmetic surgery fellowship to a few short weekend courses on topics ranging from how to perform liposuction, utilize injectables, or place breast implants.
Who do I choose?
It mainly comes down to who you are most comfortable with. Though plastic surgeons are arguably far more skilled and trained, that is not to say that one cannot receive a high-quality procedure from a cosmetic surgeon. In saying this, oftentimes, people experience greater peace of mind visiting a certified plastic surgeon such as Associate Professor Dean White due to the knowledge that they are in good hands and that the practitioner performing their surgery is well trained and experienced.
At the end of the day, the choice is ultimately the patient’s, though we do always suggest doing thorough research on any doctor/surgeon that you visit prior to undergoing any procedure or treatment.