Cosmetic Surgeons and Plastic Surgeons: What’s the Difference?

Plastic surgery. Cosmetic surgery. What’s the difference? Dr. Paul Wigoda explains.

cosmetic or plastic surgeons?Whether you call it cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery, it really doesn’t matter. The point is that it’s always good to know the difference. Cosmetic procedures only deal with improving appearance whereas plastic surgery may refer to a cosmetic or reconstructive procedure. While incorrectly referring to cosmetic surgery as plastic surgery or visa versa won’t get you a slap on the wrist, knowing the difference between cosmetic and plastic surgeons can mean the difference between satisfactory and exceptional results and more, so pay close attention.



Cosmetic Surgeons Are Not The Same As Plastic Surgeons

While many plastic surgeons, like Dr. Wigoda,  are trained in and do cosmetic procedures along with reconstructive surgery, doctors who advertise strictly as cosmetic surgeons often have no formal training in cosmetic.

Legally,  doctors with the following specialties can do cosmetic procedures and call themselves cosmetic surgeons:

  • Dermatology
  • Family practice
  • Gynecology
  • General surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • And more

But here’s the thing:  While these doctors spent a lot of time training to graduate from their original specialty, they typically spend significantly less time training to become an actual cosmetic surgeon.

Why Choose Plastic Surgeons For Cosmetic Procedures?

Piece of mind, for one thing.

Plastic surgeons, like Dr. Wigoda, come with the following credentials:

  • 4 years of college
  • 4 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

Cosmetic surgeons, who were probably trained in a different specialty, most likely have not completed the same amount of years of surgical residencies (if any). Plastic surgeons’ training gives them the knowledge and experience to reduce or minimize the appearances of scars from surgery and have a better understanding of complications that can occur and what to do in the event that they do.

Worst Case Scenarios – what if a complication occurs?

Like pregnancies, weight loss, and pretty much everything in life, every case is different. Remember, if you choose a cosmetic surgeon to do your procedure, the fact that they may have done that specific procedure many times already doesn’t guarantee that they will necessarily know what to do if a complication develops or your case may be more difficult than the average person.

Let’s use facelifts as our cosmetic surgery example. The most common significant complication of a facelift is a hematoma – a collection of blood under your skin that develops from a bleeding vessel. It occurs in 1-5% of facelifts. If you get a hematoma you may have to go back to the operating room to remove the blood collection. Will a less trained doctor (a) recognize the complication or (b) be able to perform the operation? What about anesthetic risks from either intravenous sedation or general inhalant anesthesia? Does the cosmetic surgeon have hospital privileges in case of an emergency?

Another facelift complication, perhaps the most dreaded, is an injury to the facial nerve. Luckily, this complication is rare and usually resolves with time (anywhere from a few days to a year for the nerve to recover) but it can be permanent if the nerve is cut. The most common injury is to the branch of the nerve which allows you to smile, but you can also lose abilities with other facial expressions like frowning, kissing, etc. Can you imagine if the mother of a bride comes in so as to appear more youthful in the family photos but then can’t even smile on the big day?

Other potential complications with this procedure are uncommon but can include infection, loss of skin, unattractive scars, asymmetry, pulling the earlobe down, and deep scar formation. A well-trained surgeon will be experienced with avoiding these types of complications.

The fact is, there are so many qualified board-certified plastic surgeons, why would you want to go to a less qualified doctor when your health and body are at risk?

If you would like to further discuss the cosmetic surgeon and plastic surgeon qualifications or schedule a free consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon, contact Dr. Wigoda here.