What's the difference between a plastic surgeon and a facial plastic surgeon?

I am getting a third rhinoplasty and need a good doctor. what is the difference in rhinoplasty training between a facial plastic surgeon and plastic surgeon. Would a facial plastic surgeon know things insdie the nose much better like anatomy and be more careful not to overcut things and so on because of different training. I just want to find the right surgeon for the third rhinoplasty

Doctor Answers 4

Look For An Experienced Rhinoplasty Surgeon- Either Plastic or Facial Plastic

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Both plastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons go through a vigorous training program that includes both rhinoplasty and revision rhinoplasty surgery. As a general rule, plastic surgeons perform plastic surgery on the entire body.  Facial plastic surgeons perform plastic surgery on the face and neck only. The key, is not what kind of a plastic surgeon they are, but rather how much experience they've had at both rhinoplasty and especially revision rhinoplasty. Revision rhinoplasty is considered to be the most difficult of all of the plastic surgery procedures.  You should be looking for a board certified cosmetic surgeon (either plastic or facial plastic) who is very experienced in revision rhinoplasty surgery. I would recommend interviewing several, looking at before and after pictures, and even talking to some of their previous patients.  Good luck.

Greenwood Village Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 28 reviews


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Dear John lacker, I would suggest seeking consultation with experts in the field of rhinoplasty and not necessarily based on the board certification. Surgeons in either field may or not have extensive training and experience in rhinoplasty depending on their program and what they have denoted their practice to after. Since you are already on realself look for some surgeons who have many good reviews and then read the reviews and if a large portion of those reviews are denoted to rhinoplasty then the surgeon likely performs many of these procedures and has expertise in this speciality. Once you have done that review the surgeons website and look at the before and after pictures to ensure the surgeon performs natural looking rhinoplasty results. Book several consultations and when you have gone through this process you should be well informed and find a surgeon that fits your needs best. Best regards, Michael V. Elam, M.D.

Michael Elam, MD
Orange County Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 214 reviews

Facial plastic surgeon vs plastic surgeon

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The first answer is very thorough. With external modifications to the appearance of the nose, either will be excellent choices. If there are functional components associated with the surgery, just make sure to ask the surgeon you choose how they will address those. As long as the surgeon is competent in revision rhinoplasty surgery, interviewing a few will give you a feel for who is the best fit.

Best of luck

David Reinstadler, MD
Newport Beach Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

What's the difference between a plastic surgeon and a facial plastic surgeon?

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The following is Dr. Prendiville's very thorough answer to a similar question on Realself from 3/6/2009:

"I am a Facial Plastic Surgeon and proud to be so. Obviously, my perspective is biased based on my training, a training devoted to the face and neck. However, I think there are several observations a prospective patient should consider in making their decision.

The Individual Surgeon:
I can assure you that if you are seeing a Facial Plastic Surgeon or General Plastic Surgeon, there is a high probability you are seeing a surgeon who has excelled academically and clinically in Medical School, Residency, and post-residency training. Both specialties have a very high percentage of Alpha Omega Alpha graduates, and both specialties are highly sought after as residencies, and therefore highly competitive. These attributes definitely don't assure good technical skill or an artistic/aesthetic sensibility, but they are a good start.

The Specialty:
Both Facial Plastic Surgery, and General Plastic Surgery have legitimate claims, as specialties, to providing expertise toward cosmetic and reconstructive procedures of the face. As other posters have correctly stated, the individual surgeon may have been in a residency program where there was minimal or major emphasis on facial anatomy, surgery, or pathology. Learning technical and judgmental skills in surgery is not a one step process; it requires careful study and consideration and an ability to apply a three dimensional approach, understanding that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The failed Rhinoplasties/Facelifts of countless Hollywood celebrities provide proof that these concepts can be difficult to learn. Facial Plastic Surgeons obtain training in cosmetic surgery both in their residency training and in their fellowship training; this training is exclusive to facial procedures, and does not involve training in breast, body, hand or genital surgery, like General Plastic Surgeons. Facial Plastic Surgery is recognized as a surgical subspecilaty by the AMA and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is considered ABMS equivalent in Florida and throughout the United States. The American Public believes in specialization; in facial surgery, it makes sense to see a Facial Plastic Surgeon or a Plastic Surgeon who specializes in faces.

The Consultation:
I would encourage prospective patients to use their eyes and their intuition to judge if a surgeon will be able to meet their needs. Seeing a number of surgeons is the best way to do this. Let the surgeon impress you with his/her positive qualities; any surgeon who uses as much effort in putting other surgeons/specialties as emphasizing their own attributes is deserving of wariness. In my experience, the best surgeons I have worked/trained with are true gentlemen (women) and don't need to waste their time with "trash talking".

The History:
Facial Plastic Surgery and General Plastic Surgery have a long history of sniping and turf battle issues. Both sides feel passionately about their strengths and expertise. I have worked with excellent Facial Plastic Surgeons and excellent General Plastic Surgeons, and I have seen the disasters of the less gifted of each specialty. The Bell Curve applies to every specialty.

Seek a number of opinions, listen to word of mouth, and go with your intuition."

It is very important to find a surgeon with extensive experience in rhinoplasty since the procedure is one of the most technically challenging operations in the entire field of aesthetic surgery. Look for a double board-certified ENT/facial plastic surgeon or a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in rhinoplasty to maximize you chances of good results. Having a background in ENT helps if there's any functional components the need to be addressed at time of the cosmetic rhinoplasty.

I would suggest that, rather than seeking out a particular pedigree, seek out a consultation with 2-3 reputable surgeons and go with the surgeon with whom you're most comfortable.

Best wishes!  Harry V. Wright MD, Sarasota, Florida

Harry V. Wright, MD
Sarasota Facial Plastic Surgeon

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.