The difference between Cosmetic Surgeon and Plastic Surgeon

There is no shortage of people trying to recruit patients for cosmetic plastic surgery. The internet, radio, tv, and print media are filled with ads for liposuction, lasers, breast and body surgery promising expert results. To the untrained eye, they all look the same, so how can you choose?

There is only one board that certifies plastic surgeons, and that is The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). I include a copy of their logo below. The other is the logo for The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, for which membership requires board certification. Any Board Certified Plastic Surgeon will use these same terms and logos, and you can check membership at www.plasticsurgery.org to be sure.

The term “Board Certified Surgeon” really means a surgical specialty like General Surgery or Vascular Surgery. “Facial Plastic Surgeon” indicates training in ENT, not plastic surgery. “Oculoplastic Surgeon” means it is an eye doctor. If you see “Board Certified Doctor”, it is a nonsurgical physician, such as a dermatologist, Ob/Gyn, internist, rehab medicine, or any other. “Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon” indicates a certification by the AACS or American Academy of Cosmetic Surgeons, which is not a board recognized by the ABMS. Terms like liposuction expert or laser doctor do not tell you anything about training.

It is not illegal for any doctor with a license to do any procedures he/she wishes, as long as he/she does not lie about their training. You as the educated consumer must make sure you are comfortable with the training of your doctor. Ask them what specialty they did there residency training in, and what board certified them. Do not be embarrasses, as it is important for you to know.

So, look for the logos and Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, check the website, and if there is any doubt, ask “Are you a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon?” The only answer should be yes.


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