What is the Difference Between a Plastic Surgeon and a Cosmetic Surgeon?
There is a significant and noticeable difference between plastic surgeons and "cosmetic surgeons" that the general public does not fully understand. Plastic Surgeons are trained in cosmetic surgery as well as reconstructive surgery, this is a very specific kind of physician. "Cosmetic surgeon" is a non-specific term that can be a legitimate plastic surgeon or someone whom is untrained in plastic surgery who does these procedures (often poorly and dangerously). If a surgeon uses the term "cosmetic surgeon" or "aesthetic surgeon", they are likely not a plastic surgeon. They may be excellent dermatologists, OB/Gyn doctors, family practice doctors, internal medicine doctors or dentists to name a few but that does not make them qualified to do cosmetic surgery.
To become board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a plastic surgeon must first complete intensive training in an accredited training program. Thereafter, the surgeon must pass rigorous written and oral examinations given by the board. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is one of only 24 accredited specialty boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and is the only board recognized by the ABMS to certify a surgeon in plastic surgery. There are a number of other boarding organizations that include "facial", "aesthetic" or "cosmetic" in the title. These are not recognized by the ABMS and do not have the same training requirements. To verify a physician's board status, contact the American Board of Plastic Surgery at (215) 587-9322. You may also contact the American Board of Medical Specialties at 1(800) 776-2378 or www.abms.com
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) is not recognized by the ABMS and requires no prerequisite training in plastic surgery. According to the ABCS website, this is superior to any other boards for cosmetic surgery as it is the only board certifying doctors in cosmetic surgery!!! I find this extremely offensive. In fact a "cosmetic surgeon" practicing in my local area whom is actually in primary care tells his patients that he is "better than a plastic surgeon because he is a cosmetic surgeon and fixes the plastic surgeons mistakes!!!"
Very few, if any plastic surgeons are certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. No non-plastic surgeons are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons.