If you typically use the terms cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery interchangeably you’re not alone. Many people who hear the terms plastic surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, or cosmetic surgery assume the three are the same. They are not!.
When a patient begins a search to find a plastic surgeon, they often use the search term cosmetic surgeon near me or maybe cosmetic surgeons around me. This search will result in many surgeons in the area. There will be paid for ads or banners as well as many listings of physicians who may or may not be plastic surgeons. This is a surprise to many people.
There are definite differences between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon.
It is human nature to simply look at reviews when searching for a top plastic, cosmetic or facial cosmetic surgeon but it is critical that you know these differences when looking for a surgeon.
Cosmetic surgery is performed by many physicians and surgeons including plastic surgeons. Many surgeons who call themselves plastic surgeons and perform cosmetic surgery are NOT REALLY PLASTIC SURGEONS. A true plastic surgeon is trained, and examined and scrutinized for ethics and ability under the guidance of a properly credentialed board like the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). The ABPS is the only plastic surgery board acknowledged and approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties. This means all physicians who are certified by that board are held to the highest standards as it pertains to skills, knowledge, judgment, safety and ethics in that particular specialty. Board certified plastic surgeons, and members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, are dedicated to continuously improving plastic surgery techniques through intense research and clinical trials driven towards patient safety and outcomes.
Surgeons who call themselves cosmetic surgeons or plastic surgeons but who are not ABPS certified typically belong to another medical or surgery specialty board other than plastic surgery. They may be a specialist in any number of other medical areas including otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat or ENT surgery), obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery, dermatology, internal medicine, family practice and emergency medicine. None of these specialties are certified or acknowledged to perform cosmetic procedures to the same high standards as those who are certified by the ABPS. None of these surgeons can be members of the either the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Many doctors who have only done a surgical residencies are also performing whole body cosmetic procedures having learned through non-accredited training or with no formal training yet they still call themselves cosmetic surgeons or even plastic surgeons because they perform cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery procedures.
Why are these standards so important?
Understanding the nuances of a certain plastic or cosmetic surgery is a must when you are considering a cosmetic surgery procedure and knowing if your surgeon is really a plastic surgeon is equally if not more important.
For example, it may be easy for a non-board certified surgeon to learn to place a breast implant, but if things did not go as planned and a complication occurs, a surgeon who is an expert at reconstructing a breast will be much more competent at handling any potential problem.
How can you sort this all out?
As you search for a plastic surgeon and the browser offers suggestions like:
- cosmetic surgeons near me reviews
- cosmetic surgery near me
- facial cosmetic surgeon near me
- top cosmetic surgeon near me
Look deeper into the website of the ones that you are immediately attracted to. You should start by putting the name into a site like certificationmatters.org. If the physician is certified this site will tell you in what specialty.
Inspect the biographical information of the surgeon you are considering and ask:
- Is the surgeon a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons?
- Is the surgeon a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery?
A requirement for both organizations is to a fully trained, ABPS certified plastic surgeon.
Most hospitals will only allow plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery to perform cosmetic procedures at their facilities. Their credentialing process is very thorough and it typically takes months to complete. A surgeon is granted privileges to perform plastic surgery only after proof of competency, training in an accredited residency and the proper board certification.
How Can a Surgeon Call Themselves a Plastic Surgeon When They Are Not?
No surgeon should perform a cosmetic procedure on you if they don’t have privileges to perform that same procedure at a reputable hospital. Some plastic surgeons have their own facilities which are independently certified. The distinction is that they have hospital privileges as well, should the need arise to admit a patient for hospitalization that warrants further care. The problem is that surgeons who are not ABPS certified have their own operating room on their office and they can perform any operation they chose to in that facility.
Before you go in for plastic surgery, make sure you’re seeing a board-certified plastic surgeon. Anyone can wear a white coat and call themselves a cosmetic surgeon, but not everyone has the training and expertise to give you the safest possible experience.