Cosmetic vs. Plastic Surgery – Dr. Paul Wigoda Tells What Matters

In the land of before and after photos, it’s important to note that cosmetic surgeons and plastic surgeons are not one in the same. The differences will help you when choosing a surgeon for a procedure.

On the surface, it may seem like there is very little difference. Cosmetic surgery is focused on surgical procedures that enhance a person’s appearance. Reconstructive surgery specializes in correcting body abnormities caused by trauma, disease, birth defects, and other problems. While most plastic surgeons have the training needed to do both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, no cosmetic surgeon is fully trained in reconstructive surgery, and often, not even fully trained in cosmetic surgery.

Training for cosmetic surgeons consists of:

* Four years of college

* Four years of medical school

* Training in a specific medical discipline such as dermatology

* Certification through the appropriate medical board for their discipline

There currently are no specialized residency training programs for cosmetic surgery. The only specialty that includes cosmetic surgery as part of the residency training is plastic surgery. In spite of this, any doctor can perform any type of cosmetic procedure. You could very well get an ophthalmologist performing breast augmentations.

Training for plastic surgeons consists of:

* Four years of college

* Four years of medical school

* 3-7 years of surgical residency

* 2-3 years of plastic surgery residency

* Certification through the American Board of Plastic Surgery

When it comes to getting cosmetic surgery, plastic surgeons are clearly the best trained. The bulk of a plastic surgeon’s experience comes from treating patients with disfiguring injuries. Unlike doctors trained in other disciplines, they are more likely to have experience performing cosmetic surgery on all parts of the body, and they learn under the direction of more experienced surgical staff, over a two to three year period.

Plastic surgeons also have the knowledge and experience needed to reduce scaring. It is a well-known fact that cosmetic procedures, like face lifts, leave scars. A well-trained plastic surgeon, however, can hide scars or minimize their appearance so you can feel confident in your new look.

Dr. Paul Wigoda, MD is a certified member of the American Board of Plastic Surgery who specializes in plastic and reconstructive surgery. He is the Chief of Plastic Surgery at Broward General where he frequently does life saving surgical procedures. He has hospital privileges at three area hospitals. In 8 years of having his own accredited surgery center, he has never had to transfer a patient to the hospital. However, if there is a problem during your procedure, he has the ability to make sure you get the best care necessary.

With any type of surgery, it is extremely important to choose a board certified physician who attended an accredited medical school residency and very importantly, trained thoroughly in the type of surgery you are having. A weekend course does not qualify. Meet them, carefully review their credentials, ask for testimonials, speak to your friends, and gather all of the information on your procedure to make an informed decision. Cosmetic surgery may be elective, but your health and well-being is not.