Plastic Surgeons vs. Cosmetic Surgeons


When deciding on a practitioner for elective cosmetic surgery, one of your most important tasks will be to check your doctor’s credentials. Credentials are vital. You may find yourself in a position where you are choosing between a credentialed plastic surgeon and a credentialed cosmetic surgeon. The credentialing process is different for each one.

A Specialist in Plastic Surgery
A plastic surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In order to be certified by ABPS,a doctor must have graduated medical school and have completed a three to six year residency. Once those requirements are met, the surgeon must then complete an additional two-to-three year plastic surgery residency program. After this training, the surgeon becomes certified by completing a grueling series of written and oral exams, with a failure rate of 15.6% and 11.3%, respectively (as of 2013).

As you can see, it takes a great deal of work and commitment to complete a medical specialty in plastic surgery. While it takes an enormous amount of commitment and follow-through to become a medical doctor of any kind, becoming a plastic surgeon is an additional intensive process.

The Label of Cosmetic Surgeon
Once a doctor completes their residency, they are able to declare themselves a cosmetic surgeon, as it is not a recognized medical specialty. Some doctors simply complete a weekend seminar and begin practicing cosmetic surgery. Others may be certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons. However, the ABCS does not have the same certifying process as the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In fact, the American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons is not a certifying board, according to the American Board of Medical Specialties. It's possible some ABCS members have not been trained or completed residencies as surgeons, and many have not completed any formal surgical training at all.

Beware of surgeons who claim to be board-certified, but do not say in what. They may have board certifications from another medical specialty entirely. Make sure that you ask them what their board certifications are.

Safety is Paramount
Any sort of surgery, no matter how minor, has risks associated with it. There are ways of ensuring a safer surgical environment, with a more knowledgeable, tested, and experienced practitioner. You should have the best possible surgeon for your procedure, in order to achieve a satisfying and fulfilling result.
Article by
Troy Plastic Surgeon