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What is the Difference Between a Plastic Surgeon and a Cosmetic Surgeon?

In this video, Dr. Jazayeri breaks down the three main differences between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon.

  1. Type of Program and Quality Control

The field of plastic surgery is recognized by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), which is the same organization that recognizes the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Plastic surgery residency programs are subject to review by an independent organization to ensure a certain level of quality and safety. Any issues may result in the program being put on probation or even shut down. Generally speaking, plastic surgeons are more likely to have a better quality of training than cosmetic surgeons.

Cosmetic surgeons go through programs with the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, which are more akin to mentorships, and are not accredited by ACGME. While no external organization monitors these training programs, their level of quality is inspected internally and held to their own set of standards which may not be as rigorous as those used by ACGME.

  1. Medical Background

To become a plastic surgeon, individuals must first train as a surgeon. While the most common pathway to becoming a plastic surgeon usually begins with becoming a general surgeon, prospective plastic surgeons can also come from a range of other backgrounds, including neurosurgery, head and neck surgery, and more.

Once candidates complete their initial surgery training, they can then apply for a plastic surgery program. Because of their surgical background, prospective plastic surgeons tend to be of a higher caliber and begin their programs with more well-rounded knowledge and abilities. Furthermore, plastic surgeons are trained in both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.

Alternatively, cosmetic surgeons can come from non-surgical backgrounds, such as dermatology or family medicine, before completing 1-2 years of specialized cosmetic surgery training. The variety of backgrounds and levels of experience result in a less comprehensive starting point for those in training. Additionally, because cosmetic surgeons don’t have surgical or reconstructive surgery experience, if a patient ends up needing extra surgery, a plastic surgeon will likely be called in for assistance.

  1. Approach

Plastic surgeons generally take a more cautious approach to their procedures and typically take their time to ensure the best results in the long run. Cosmetic surgeons may approach their procedures more casually, which can unfortunately result in a longer operating time (and higher cost). Worse, this casual approach is also more likely to lead to unsatisfactory results, requiring additional procedures.

In the case of lip fillers, cosmetic surgeons tend to use medical-grade silicone for this treatment, despite the risk that silicone can take on a “bumpy” look and feel. When this happens, the lip needs to be cut open to remove the silicone, possibly resulting in scars and almost certainly leaving the patient’s lips looking worse than before. For this reason, plastic surgeons typically use a safer method.

The Bottom Line

Dr. Jazayeri strongly encourages prospective patients to thoroughly research their options to find the best surgeon for their needs. In addition to ensuring that the surgeon is board certified, individuals considering enhancement procedures should research prospective doctors on their state’s medical board directory as well as reviewing their before-and-after surgery photos for reference.

For more information about board-certified plastic surgeon in Santa Ana, Dr. Jazayeri, call the number on this page or visit our contact page.

Schedule your one-on-one plastic surgery consultation in Orange County with Dr. Jaz

Many people may hesitate about making their first phone call to a plastic surgeon’s office. Dr. Jazayeri would like you to know that for most patients, getting a procedure is only one aspect of helping themselves look and feel more like the person they really are. Information is power. Why not call and schedule a consultation with Dr. Jazayeri today? Contact us now by calling the phone number above or visiting our contact page.