Charles Perry, MD, Plastic Surgeon
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April 2, 2010

Plastic Surgeons as Cosmetic Surgeons

Posted by Dr. Perry in Current Events

Sacramento California. Recently reading an article in a Magazine A New You, I was struck by the fact that 3/5 people did not know what the difference was between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon. And I guess to many they are synonymous and that is just as well as plastic surgeons are trained in full facial and body cosmetic surgery however there is some distinctions so I asked our staff. They had a little difficulty as well explaining the differences. So I thought I’d share my thoughts. First of all there is no board certification for cosmetic surgery or surgery of the appearance. There are societies and organizations for cosmetic surgeons but no board certification that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. That being said the American Board of Medical Specialties does certify Plastic Surgeons whom are specially trained in Cosmetic Surgery as a part of their board certification process. Thus cosmetic surgery is a subset of the plastic surgery curriculum for training and certification that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. And this training is from the head to the toe. For example this certifies a plastic surgeon in facelifts, blepharoplasty with brow lifts and tummy tucks, as well as liposuction and breast lifts, breast augmentation as well as buttock lifts and thigh lifts and arm lifts. In general this is a seven or more year training program in which the plastic surgeon trainee learns how to reconstruct and enhance the body and face appearance. In my opinion this is a very rigorous and thorough training that prepares the plastic surgeon for a life – long learning and teaches one to think critically and apply their skills in a thoughtful, prudent manner. After training in all facets of plastic surgery some plastic surgeons decide to tailor their private practice and will specialize in the art of cosmetic surgery or the art of reconstructive surgery while some choose to do a little of both and still others may choose specialize in an even narrow field such as craniofacial or hand surgery.

Now are plastic surgeons the only cosmetic surgeons you will find? Certainly not there are many other physicians that call themselves cosmetic surgeons. Other specialties’ such as Ear Nose and Throat Doctors or Oculoplastic Surgeons and Dermatologist as well as OB/GYNs are board certified specialties with specific training in one area of the body. And in their training they are also exposed to and trained in areas cosmetic procedures within their specific body or facial region. For example OB/GYNs do a fabulous vaginal rejuvenation, and Ear Nose and Throat Doctors may perform a wonderful rhinoplasty or otoplasties while Oculoplastic surgeons can perform wonderful blepharoplasties, while dermatologist perform wonderful chemical peels and liposuction.

So are all cosmetic surgeons equally trained? Certainly not and not all cosmetic surgeons are trained in all areas of surgery like the plastic surgeons are. Some questions to ask your cosmetic surgeon is if they feel comfortable with the procedure, and how many have they performed, and how were they trained in the procedure and if they are allowed to do the same procedure in the local hospital.

Any physician can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon and perform procedures in their office as there is no board of cosmetic surgery and no specialty of cosmetic surgery, however there are other boards that do certify their physicians and stand behind their training. Plastic Surgeons are well suited to offer aesthetic procedures. Let us know how we can help you.

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