When it comes to plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery, many people tend to use the two terms interchangeably, but this is not correct. There are various aspects that separate the two professions, and a cosmetic surgeon is not necessarily a plastic surgeon as well.

What is the difference between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery?

Cosmetic surgery is done for the purpose of improving one’s appearance, with procedures being performed on all areas of the head, neck, breast and body. The reason someone elects to get cosmetic surgery is not because something is not properly functioning, but rather they are displeased with their appearance in a particular area. All cosmetic surgery is considered to be elective because it is always for aesthetic reasoning.

Plastic surgery on the other hand is broken into two branches: cosmetic and reconstructive. A plastic surgeon will typically perform cosmetic procedures in their practice, however, their specialties lie in the reconstruction of facial or body defects. These defects can be anything from trauma to birth defects to disease to burns. Plastic surgery procedures are intended to be reconstructive in nature with the primary purpose being to improve function.

What are the differences in education?

The greatest differentiating factor between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon is that of the training and experience that is received. A practitioner in any medical specialty may refer to themselves as cosmetic surgeons if they have completed the necessary training. To be deemed as a cosmetic surgeon, one must have done either a minimum of a one-year cosmetic surgery fellowship, or a variety of different courses that range on topics. The training provides education on how to perform certain procedures such as liposuction, breast implants, or how to properly apply injectables.

Due to how extensive and broad the field of plastic surgery is, one must go through another 6-8 years of training once they have completed medical school before they can be certified as a plastic surgeon. This normally involves a 3-year approved surgical residency program with rigorous training, followed by another 3 years of plastic surgery focused training. Many plastic surgeons choose to further their training in areas such as craniofacial, microvascular, hand, pediatric, and aesthetic as well.

When choosing a plastic surgeon or a cosmetic surgeon, it is important to ask questions in regards to their certifications and credentials. The American Board of Plastic Surgery will certify a qualified plastic surgeon, and a cosmetic surgeon will have their initial board certification from the American Board of Medical Specialties and then become board-certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.

To schedule your consultation with Detroit cosmetic surgeon Dr. Rifai, contact Birmingham Cosmetic Surgery and at (248) 723-9370. We serve patients in and around the areas of Detroit, Southfield, Jackson, Port Huron, Birmingham, and Dundee, Michigan.