Woman with multiple hands examining face

Navigating the world of cosmetic surgery can be overwhelming, especially when you're faced with the choice between a cosmetic surgeon and a fully-trained plastic surgeon. While both professionals may offer various procedures to enhance your appearance, significant differences set them apart. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for making informed decisions about your cosmetic goals. 

The team at Ponte Vedra Plastic Surgery is happy to provide you with information on how to distinguish between these health providers. 

Education and training

  • Cosmetic Surgeon: A cosmetic surgeon typically completes a general surgery residency, followed by additional training in cosmetic surgery. This training may vary in duration and intensity, and there is no standardized pathway to becoming a cosmetic surgeon. As a result, the quality of education and training can differ widely among practitioners.
  • Plastic Surgeon: A fully-trained plastic surgeon follows a rigorous and standardized educational path. They begin with a medical degree, followed by a comprehensive residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery, which typically spans at least six years. This structured training covers a wide range of surgical techniques, including both cosmetic and reconstructive procedures.

Board certification

  • Cosmetic Surgeon: Board certification in cosmetic surgery is not standardized. Some cosmetic surgeons may obtain board certification from organizations that focus solely on cosmetic procedures, while others may not have any formal certification in cosmetic surgery.
  • Plastic Surgeon: A fully-trained plastic surgeon is board-certified by established organizations like the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) or equivalent national boards. Achieving this certification involves rigorous testing and adherence to high ethical and professional standards. It demonstrates a surgeon's commitment to excellence in both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.

Scope of practice

  • Cosmetic Surgeon: Cosmetic surgeons typically focus solely on elective aesthetic procedures. Their practice may not include reconstructive surgery, trauma care, or other areas of plastic surgery beyond cosmetic enhancements.
  • Plastic Surgeon: Fully-trained plastic surgeons have a broader scope of practice. In addition to offering cosmetic procedures, they are trained to perform reconstructive surgeries, such as breast reconstruction after mastectomy, hand surgery, and treatment of congenital deformities. This diverse skill set allows them to address a wider range of patient needs.

Safety and expertise

  • Cosmetic Surgeon: Due to variations in education and training, the safety and expertise of cosmetic surgeons can vary. Some may excel in specific cosmetic procedures, while others may lack the comprehensive knowledge and skills necessary for optimal patient outcomes.
  • Plastic Surgeon: Fully-trained plastic surgeons are equipped to handle a wide array of surgical challenges. Their extensive training, board certification, and commitment to safety protocols ensure a higher level of expertise and patient safety.

Comprehensive consultations

  • Cosmetic Surgeon: Cosmetic surgeons may focus primarily on the specific procedure you're interested in without considering alternative or complementary options. Their consultations may not cover the full spectrum of possibilities to achieve your aesthetic goals.
  • Plastic Surgeon: Fully-trained plastic surgeons provide comprehensive consultations. They assess your overall health, discuss your cosmetic objectives, and consider all available options. This holistic approach allows them to recommend tailored treatment plans that may address multiple concerns in one surgery if appropriate.

What is the takeaway?

Choosing between a cosmetic surgeon and a fully-trained plastic surgeon should be a well-informed decision. While both professionals can perform cosmetic procedures, the extensive training, board certification, and comprehensive scope of practice of fully-trained plastic surgeons often result in safer, more effective outcomes. Ultimately, prioritizing a surgeon's qualifications and expertise is essential to achieving your desired aesthetic goals while minimizing potential risks.

At Ponte Vedra Plastic Surgery, our health providers are well-versed in a wide array of treatments. Our skills and expertise are second to none, and we pride ourselves on curating the best treatment plans possible. Reach out to us today to learn about our treatment options. 

Back to Blog

Schedule a Consultation

Contact Us
Actual Patients Contact us media

© Ponte Vedra Plastic Surgery. All Rights Reserved. Collaborative Creative Team J.A.M. Web Design & Internet Marketing by Studio III

Protected by reCAPTCHA | Privacy - Terms

Accessibility: If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact our Accessibility Manager at 904-664-1552.
Contact Us