What's the difference between an ophthalmic surgeon and an oculoplastic surgeon?

How can one determine who is more beneficial for the purposes of strictly cosmetic under and or upper eye surgery if its determined to be eventually necessary? What does each focus on and what does each NOT specialize in?

Doctor Answers 4

Ocular Plastic Surgeon Vs. Ophthalmic Surgeon

Both an ophthalmic surgeon and an Ocular Plastic surgeon are Ophthalmologists (Eye MDs). Oculoplastic surgery, includes a wide variety of surgical procedures that deal with the eye socket, tear ducts, and the face. It also deals with the reconstruction of the eye and associated structures. Oculoplastic surgeons (ophthalmic surgeons) are ophthalmologists (eye physicians) who complete 1–2 years of additional fellowship training following their ophthalmology residency. Other types of surgeons may be trained in oculoplastic procedures, including plastic surgeons and otolaryngologists. Some oculoplastic surgeons do additional training in cosmetic surgery.


Fayetteville Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 107 reviews

If only it were this simple.

An ophthalmic surgeon is an eye surgeon or ophthalmologist.  Generally you also want to make sure that they are board certified in Ophthalmology with the American Board of Ophthalmology. 

An oculoplastic surgeon is an ophthalmologist who devotes all of their practice or a significant part of their practice to eyelid surgery.  This does not mean that the surgeon is more deeply trained than a general ophthalmologist.  For that, you need to look for additional training.  The main organization for that training is the American Society for Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.  They are both the professional society for this subspecialty and the certifying organization for the bulk of the fellowships in oculofacial surgery. ( A small number of fellowships are ACGME accredited).  For in depth training in oculoplastic surgery, you need to look determine if your potential oculoplastic surgeon is fellowship trained by an ASOPRS or ACGME accredited fellowship.  These are two year training programs that are done after the surgeon has completed an accredited residency in Ophthalmology.  The surgical experience in these programs is breathtaking.  Typically these fellows are involved in approximately 2500 eyelid, orbital, and facial surgeries during the course of a two year fellowship.  

Beyond that training, some oculoplastic surgeons do additional training in cosmetic surgery.  This can be what is called a preceptorship or a more formal fellowship through the non ACGME board of Cosmetic Surgery.

Looking around the country and internationally, it is my opinion that depth of training does make a difference and there is no substitute for this type of training. 

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Los Angeles Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

What's the difference between an ophthalmic surgeon and an oculoplastic surgeon?

As already answered, an oculoplastic surgeon is an ophthalmic surgeon who has completed 1-2 additional training performing plastic surgery (cosmetic and reconstructive) on and around the eyes. They should be certified by the ASOPRS.  And their focus in practice is usually only plastic surgery on/around the eyes vs. performing other ophthalmic procedures.

Mehryar (Ray) Taban, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Ophthalmic Surgeon Versus Ocular Plastic Surgeon

ThomasMM  thank you for your question.  Both an ophthalmic surgeon and an Ocular Plastic surgeon are Ophthalmologists (Eye MDs).  An Ocular Plastic surgeon that is a fellowship trained American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (ASOPRS) is an Ophthalmic Surgeon who has completed a fellowship ( further training after residency) in plastic surgery around the eyes. Thus,  an Ocular Plastic surgeon is an Ophthalmic surgeon who specializes in plastic and cosmetic surgery around the eyes. Most ophthalmic surgeons ( who are not Ocular Plastic surgeons) focus on cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal problems and surgery.

Mark Berkowitz, MD
Sterling Heights Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.