What Is The Difference Between A Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon and a Board Certified Facial Cosmetic Surgeon?


All of our staff at Thompson Facial Plastics get asked this question often and it’s really an important one to clarify. It can be confusing when searching for a qualified surgeon and see that some are “cosmetic surgeons” and some of “plastic surgeon” and many think they are the same thing. But that is definitely not the case and it’s important for a patient to be informed prior to making any big surgical decisions.

Cosmetic surgery is performed by many types of physicians, and unfortunately, some are not under the guidance of a properly credentialed board. The American Board of Plastic Surgery or American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery are the only boards acknowledged and approved by the National Board of Medical Specialities. Members are held to the highest standards in regards to skills, knowledge, judgment, safety and ethics in their particular specialty. These agencies, and it’s members, are dedicated to continuously improving plastic surgery techniques, furthering intense research and conducting clinical trials driven towards patient safety and outcomes. Why are standards so important? It’s important that a surgeon understands the full extent of reconstruction, on top of the cosmetic aspect, when it comes to cosmetic procedures. Not only can they perform the procedure but are more competent at handling any potential problems should they arise.

Those who call themselves cosmetic surgeons typically belong to another board and come from a wide variety of backgrounds that do not relate to cosmetic or plastic surgery. Examples include gynecology, ophthalmology, dermatology, family medicine, or oral surgery. Many of these doctors complete minimal training, sometimes through weekend courses, for the cosmetic procedures they perform. While these doctors may be approved to perform the services they are offering, they often do not possess the same level of skill, training, and experience as board certified plastic surgeons and board certified facial plastic surgeons who are performing the identical procedure.

Hospitals only allow plastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons certified by one of the boards above to perform cosmetic procedures in their operating centers. The credentialing process by a hospital is very thorough and often takes months to complete. The surgeon has to provide proof of competency, training and in accredited residency and the proper board certification. If patients need further care or admittance, it’s important to have a surgeon with hospital rights. If you are unsure about a particular physicians credentials, it’s important to ask about their hospital privileges.

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Salt Lake City Facial Plastic Surgeon