Rhinoplasty Doctor: Facial Plastic Surgeon vs. General Plastic Surgeon

Should I Have my Rhinoplasty Done by a Facial Plastic Surgeon or a General Plastic Surgeon? Who is Most Qualified for Doing Nose Surgery?

Doctor Answers 36

Qualified rhinoplasty surgeons

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There are a few types of surgeons who are qualified to do rhinoplasty.

Facial Plastic Surgeons like us limit their cosmetic and reconstructive surgery practices to facial work while General Plastic Surgeons may do work on the face and the rest of the body. While both types of surgeons frequently do rhinoplasty, recent statistics suggest that Facial Plastic Surgeons, despite being far out-numbered, are now doing more rhinoplasties in America than their General Plastic surgical colleagues.

The main difference between the two types of Plastic Surgeons is how they are trained and how they arrive at doing what they do.

  • Facial Plastic Surgeons have usually first completed residency training in Head and Neck Surgery (also known as ENT or Otolaryngology) where a large concentration of their training is in Plastic Surgery of the Face and Neck. They will then usually have gone on to further complete a dedicated Fellowship in Facial Plastic Surgery.
  • General Plastic Surgeons, on the other hand, complete some 3-5 years of training in General Surgery, then a 2 year residency in General Plastic Surgery, perhaps followed by Fellowship.

So, is either more qualified to do rhinoplasty? There is nothing that gives either group dominion over a particular procedure and you shouldn’t listen to anyone who says so. There are representatives from both groups who are among the best rhinoplasty surgeons in the world. And each group also has its share of less experienced rhinoplasty surgeons.

It is true that Facial Plastic Surgeons spend much more time working on and in the nose during their training, and often in practice. And, because of their ENT backgrounds, Facial Plastic Surgeons may be, in general, more comfortable with procedures inside the nose, and especially with those rhinoplasties involving changes that affect nasal breathing (known as Functional Rhinoplasty).

Ultimately, your choice of a good rhinoplasty surgeon should come down to other more important factors, such as personal experience with rhinoplasty. You can look at other answers to rhinoplasty questions on this forum to get an idea of what to look for.

Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

Who is Best Qualified? Look for Experience, Results

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Surgeons in either specialty can be an excellent choice. Focus on reputation for excellence and experience in Rhinoplasty.

Get consultations with at least 2 or 3 well qualified surgeons to see who is best suited to help you achieve your goals.

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Rhinoplasty Surgeon's Expertise Is More Important

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Choosing a qualified rhinoplasty surgeon is the most important decision you can make when deciding to under go nasal surgery.

First and foremost, choose an surgeon who specializes in rhinoplasty -- regardless of whether they are a "Facial" Plastic Surgeon or a "Plastic Surgeon" and who has experience correcting both functional problems (such as a deviated septum) and cosmetic problems.

Most patients are suprised to learn that not all Facial Plastic Surgeons or Plastic Surgeons are actually trained to perform rhinoplasty. Many residency programs (of both specialties) provide little to no experience in rhinoplasty, while other programs provide a great deal of training. Regardless of which speciality your surgeon trained in, he or she should be Board Certified in either Otolaryngology (ENT) or Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. Not all "cosmetic surgeons" have undergone the rigorous training in accredited residency programs that allow them to become Board Certified in either of these two specialties.

Most patients are also suprised to learn that not all Facial Plastic Surgeons or Plastic Surgeons perform many rhinoplasties in their practice. Inquire about what percentage of your prospective surgeon's practice is dedicated to rhinoplasty. There are a few surgeons from each camp (FPS and PS) that have dedicated their practice exclusively to rhinoplasty.

C. Spencer Cochran, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 149 reviews

Have it done by a good surgeon who performs rhinoplasty regularly

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I couldn't agree more with Dr. Litner's comments. 

Rhinoplasty is an art, a passion, an obsession.  Those surgeons (regardless of whether a facial plastic surgeon or a plastic surgeon) who will dedicate their time and effort to rhinoplasty will inevitably become better at it.


Sam Naficy, MD, FACS
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 231 reviews

Choosing a rhinoplasty surgeon

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There are qualified and respected surgeons who are general plastic surgeons and there are others who are facial plastic surgeons.  The designation itself will not ensure a good result.  Consult with 3 surgeons who have a good reputation for rhinoplasty work in your area and find the one who you believe has the requisite skills, experience, passion for the procedure, and understanding of your objectives.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Rhinoplasty Doctor: Facial Plastic Surgeon vs. General Plastic Surgeon

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Without question, rhinoplasty is the most complicated procedure in aesthetic medicine.  There are incredibly talented and qualified surgeons that fall under both boarded specialties.  My recommendation would be to do your due diligence and research potential surgeons by perusing their websites, their before/after photos, and even patient testimonials about their experience.  Many physicians will even provide you former patient's to interact with and discuss their experience with you.  Ultimately, the most important thing is that when you visit for a consult that the plan fits with your concerns to the T.  The most skilled surgeons are those that focus on both the form and the function of the nose, not ignoring either one of these critical components.  Although, it may be wonderful to have a lovely appearing nose...if you can't breathe after surgery you might be miserable and vice versa.  Rhinoplasty is an art and passion above everything else and should be taken very seriously by both patient and surgeon alike.  Hope that helps!!

Shepherd G. Pryor, MD
Scottsdale Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Who does the best rhinoplasty?

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Having a good nose job requires a nose specialist and a skilled surgeon. You also want to take into account whether you feel comfortable with the surgeon, as well as the doctor's experience and other qualifications. Always choose a board certified facial plastic surgeon with experience in nose job. Be sure to check his before and after pictures to get a feel for the results the doctor has previously produced for other patients.

Kevin Sadati, DO
Orange County Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 224 reviews

Rhinoplasties are performed by both plastic surgeons and ENT"s (facial plastic surgeons)

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 I think that rhinoplasty is one of the most formidable operations to get consistently good results in aesthetic surgery.  I don't think the specialty is as important as the individual skill and judgment of the surgeon.  This is one operation where patients should shop scrupulously.

"Facial" Plastic Surgeon vs. "General" Plastic Surgeon

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Believe it or not, one of the most complex procedures performed by plastic surgeons and otolaryngologists (ENT surgeons) is the rhinoplasty.  Therefore, you want to be sure that your surgeon is well-versed in the techniques of rhinoplasty.  As for terms, they are meaningless unless you understand their derivation.  "Facial" plastic surgeons are ENT surgeons who have completed residency training in otolaryngology and completed fellowship training in cosmetic surgery of the face, typically in association with other ENT surgeons.  They are generally well-trained to perform rhinoplasty surgery but they are not plastic surgeons based on their actual training. The term "general" plastic surgeon does not exist in juxtaposition to "facial" plastic surgeon.  A plastic surgeon is one who has completed residency training in plastic surgery and often pursued additional training in the various subspecialties of this field, such as aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery, breast surgery, craniofacial surgery, etc.  Only surgeons who have completed residency training in plastic surgery are eligible to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. That said, both specialties, plastic surgery and ENT, are well-trained in the art of the rhinoplasty.  Your choice of surgeon should be based on your comfort level with your surgeon as well as their experience with the procedure and their ability to achieve your goals.

How to Pick a Rhinoplasty Surgeon

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There are few surgeries that require experience and expertise for outstanding results like Rhinoplasty surgery.  To pick a surgeon, I think you should ask around and I believe that you will start hearing some common names in your area or in an adjacent metropolitan city.  Qualified surgeons can be either facial plastic surgeons or surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.  I believe that an excellent rhinoplasty surgeon is passionate about his results, and you should look on the internet and interview multiple surgeons to view and ask about their before and after portfolio.  You should like what you see, because generally this is the surgeon's interpretation of what he thinks looks good.  Nasal surgery is both functional and cosmetic, and you should keep this in mind, as the surgeon should be capable in all facets of rhinoplasty surgery.  Ask how often the surgeon performs rhinoplasty surgery, and ask to talk to some of their previous patients.  Imaging of your photographs to envision possible results is helpful for discussion and aids in communicating to the surgeon what you are looking for, and if the results you desire are possible.  Hope this helps.  Good luck.

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.