In recent years, we’ve seen how cosmetic surgery procedures have gained popularity. An estimated 1.5 million surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures were performed in 2019. More and more people now embrace surgery in enhancing their appearance. However, many clients have a hard time determining the right specialist for their specific needs.
Should I look for a plastic surgeon or a cosmetic surgeon?
Often, people interchange plastic surgeon with cosmetic surgeon. According to a 2017 report published in the American Society of Plastic Surgeon, the majority of people are confused about the distinctions of these two types of specialists and the procedures they perform. Although both types of doctors are considered surgeons, they have distinct education and training tracks.
It is important to understand the uniqueness of each field of specialization to get an appropriate and aesthetically acceptable outcome. Here we take a look at their differences to help you choose the right specialist.
What is Plastic Surgery?
When people hear the term “plastic surgery,” the first things that come to mind are beauty enhancement procedures like breast augmentation, liposuction, and nose jobs. But the truth is that plastic surgery refers to any surgical procedure meant to correct or restore the appearance or function of body parts due to birth defects, traumatic injuries, accidents, burns, tumors, or other illnesses.
Plastic surgery procedures involve altering or moving healthy, live tissues, such as skin, fat, blood vessels, and muscles. This field of specialty is reconstructive; hence, plastic surgeons are also referred to as reconstructive surgeons.
Both men and women can benefit from plastic surgery. Aside from the improvement in physical appearance, plastic surgery can boost self-confidence and self-esteem. Reconstructing dysfunctional or damaged areas of the body can bring great relief and improvement of overall well-being. Plastic surgeons perform procedures like a skin graft, flap surgery, and microvascular surgeon. Other common plastic surgery procedures include:
- Tumor and skin cancer removal,
- Reconstructive burn surgery,
- Scar revision,
- Hand surgery,
- Breast reconstruction,
- Breast reduction, and
- Cosmetic surgery procedures involving the head, neck, extremities, and trunk areas, such as rhinoplasty, tummy tuck, facelift, arm/leg lift, and skin resurfacing.
To become a board-certified plastic surgeon, a doctor needs to complete the standard 4-year medical school program and complete 5 to 6 years of residency training in general surgery and specialization in plastic surgery. Upon completing the necessary education and training, the aspirant needs to sit and pass the certification exam administered by the American Board and Plastic Surgery.
What is Cosmetic Surgery?
Cosmetic surgery refers to procedures – both surgical and non-surgical – that are intended to enhance aesthetics. Unlike plastic surgery, cosmetic surgeries treat fully functional areas and performed purely to improve or augment physical appearance. It may or may not treat dysfunctions. Typically, these procedures are not covered by medical insurance.
Anyone who is in a reasonable state of health and mind can undergo a cosmetic procedure. According to a leading female cosmetic surgeon from LabelleVie, the main reason why people undergo cosmetic surgery is to enhance a specific part of their body that they are not fully satisfied with. Patients report tremendous satisfaction and relief in their enhanced physical look.
Popular cosmetic surgery procedures include:
- Breast lift
- Breast augmentation
- Spider vein removal
- Cosmetic surgery to enhance eyes, nose, ears, chin, cheek, and other facial features
- Skin resurfacing
A board-certified cosmetic surgeon has completed the basic 4-year medical program plus 4 to 6 years of medical residency in any of these specialties: general surgery, dermatology, otolaryngology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, and ob-gynecology. They also need to complete another 2-year specialty training in cosmetic surgery and pass the certification exam of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.
How to Choose a Plastic or Cosmetic Surgeon?
Basically, the decision of whether to hire a plastic or cosmetic surgeon depends on the main objective of the procedure. If the surgery is aimed to treat certain dysfunction, then you need to consult a plastic surgeon. Meanwhile, if the goal is to simply improve aesthetics, a cosmetic surgeon is best. However, some plastic surgeons offer cosmetic surgery procedures, and cosmetic surgeons offer the most plastic surgeries.
Due to their overlapping roles and specialization of surgeons, choosing the right doctor can be confusing. Rather than concentrating on the surgeon’s title, look for the following:
First, verify whether the doctor is board certified in the specialty area. You can find a nearby plastic surgeon via the official site of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and cosmetic surgeon at the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. It is important to find a doctor with the necessary training and certification in the procedure you desire or need.
Although board certification is the first thing you’ll look for, you need to narrow down your choice by comparing their experience. All surgeons undergo standard surgery residency programs but not necessarily the same fellowship training and clinical work. As such, you should check their relevant experiences, making sure that the one you consult has handled similar cases in the past. It is okay to ask your surgeon relevant information about the planned procedure, such as how many times he/she has performed it; what were the outcomes, complications, and challenges.
Quality of Service
You want to work with a surgeon who offers excellent care. The ideal surgeon is skilled, great bedside manner, trustworthy, and humble. These traits will give you peace of mind and enable a good trusting relationship between the two of you. Likewise, you also want to know how the surgical center or hospital takes care of their patients. Take note that you might stay at the facility for a few days before and after the surgery, so it pays to investigate the facility.
Lastly, you want to get reviews about the work of the surgeon. Ask his previous clients, review testimonials, and check with the local association. Look for a surgeon with a high patient satisfaction rating and offers.
Finally, always remember that not all board-certified plastic or cosmetic surgeons are the same. Take the time to learn about your prospects before finally selecting them. You need to establish a good rapport with your surgeon to get the best treatment.