Differences between Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery

Many people assume that plastic and cosmetic surgery is all the same even though it is not. For a long time, the term plastic has been understood as artificial and therefore people translate plastic surgery as a cosmetic procedure. However, these are two different things and people need to understand this.

History of Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery was practiced in the past by Greeks who wanted to have scars removed from their backs. It was assumed that having a scar on the back meant that you turned your back during a war which signified cowardice. Other ancient kingdoms also practiced some forms of plastic surgery but not to the extent that the field has grown into today. After the World War, it became apparent that plastic surgery was necessary because of all the injuries that people sustained. From there, the field grew periodically to become what it is today.

Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery is not performed for cosmetic purposes. It is specifically designed and targeted towards restoring normal functions by altering the appearance of various body parts. For example, plastic surgery deals with cleft palate and other structural deformities that affect one’s health and the quality of life. Rhinoplasty might be necessary when you have breathing difficulties because of your cartilage or the size of your nostrils. All this may alter your look but it is not primarily geared towards that. Instead, it is focused on helping the body part with its designed function.

Additionally, plastic surgeons might practice cosmetic surgery but only a sixth of their training deals with cosmetic procedures. The rest of the training administered after graduating in general surgery focuses on deformities and reconstruction due to disease, trauma, burns and accidents. Plastic surgeons are certified by the board of plastic surgery in their state and country.

Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is primarily for appearances, as the name suggests. For cosmetic surgeons, the training administered after medical school deals with cosmetic procedures such as breast augmentation, tummy tucks, face lifts and even Rhinoplasty. While plastic surgeons have the option to cross over to cosmetic surgery, cosmetic surgeons are barred from doing this without the necessary training and fellowship. This is because cosmetic surgeons are not skilled or trained in correcting deformities or dealing with reconstructive surgery as a result of diseases or trauma.

Cosmetic surgeons are certified by the board of cosmetic surgeons in the area but not the board of plastic surgery.

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From these differences, you can see that plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery differ. The philosophy, mode of operation or intent of these procedures vary. For a long time, the American Board of Plastic Surgery was known as the American Board of Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery. This was later changed by dropping the ‘cosmetic’ from the name as an emphasis that plastic surgery is actually not cosmetic and is aimed at restoring the function of various bodily parts by altering their appearance. This helped to show the priority and to clarify that it was not about how you look but rather how to help your body function better by altering how a specific part looks.

How to Find a Good Plastic Surgeon

When you are going in for surgery, there are many factors that you want to consider. The bottom line remains that you would like to have the best surgeon since you value your life and would like to reduce any complications during and after surgery. The same applies when you are looking for a plastic surgeon. There are implications and risks to be considered and nobody would want to roll the dice by picking a mediocre plastic surgeon.

To find the best plastic surgeon, you need to look into:


  • Board Certification


The first thing you need to look into is whether the surgeon is certified as a plastic surgeon by the relevant board. Any medical practitioner registered as a doctor can legally take up any procedure. The only way to get the best out of your surgery would be to ensure that your plastic surgeon is registered by the board of plastic surgery and thus qualified to perform the procedure on you.

  • History with Patients


You should consider the history that the surgeon has with his or her former patients. The relevant certification board always posts judgments that are made against any registered medical practitioners. If a surgeon has judgments against them, it is wise to steer clear of them since you do not want to be a victim of malpractice and add to the list.

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  • Experience with Procedure


A surgeon who regularly performs a certain procedure is the best choice. If you are getting Rhinoplasty and the plastic surgeon performs at least one every week, this gives you confidence that they will do a good job on you. However, if they have very few cases they handle periodically, you would not want to choose such a surgeon to handle your surgery.


  • Affiliation with Hospitals


One of the signals for a great plastic surgeon is the number of hospitals he or she is affiliated with. A good plastic surgeon will be able to perform various procedures in at least one hospital. If your plastic surgeon only carries out procedures at a private clinic, then this could be a red flag. Hospitals carry out background checks before they can allow surgeons to use their facilities. Finding a surgeon who does not have any affiliation could be a sign that something is wrong.

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  • Aesthetic Compatibility


Another important factor when it comes to choosing a good plastic surgeon is how compatible the two of you are in terms of aesthetic views. While a surgeon might be great on paper or even from the recommendation of a friend, it is possible that your idea of beauty is not the same as his or hers. Before you commit to having a surgeon carry out your procedure, ensure that you have thoroughly evaluated some before and after pictures, especially of other patients who have similar characteristics to yours. If you like what you see, you can choose the plastic surgeon for your cosmetic procedure. If you don’t, keep looking until you can find one that matches your idea of beauty.