People can mistakenly think that plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are the same thing. But there are vital differences in the experience, expertise and credentialing ofphysicians allowed to perform plastic surgery and those who do cosmetic work.
Plastic surgery has its roots in the reconstruction of the body, necessary due to major trauma, disease or deformity. Today, an important aspect of plastic surgery reconstruction is an increasing desire for aesthetic change.
As this interest continues to grow, patients need to understand the expertise of their surgeon.
To qualify as a plastic surgeon, a medical doctor who has graduated from an accredited school must complete an additional six years of surgical training and a minimum of three years of plastic surgery residency training. In addition, the surgeon must pass rigorous oral and written examinations, and operate only in accredited, state-licensed or Medicare-certified surgical facilities.
About 6,800 certified plastic surgeons are currently practicing in the United States.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has an easy online search that allows patients to check whether their potential surgeon has the qualifications to perform plastic surgery.
There is no similar board certification for cosmetic surgery by the American Board of Medical Specialties, the gold-standard certifying body for specialty medical boards. Any doctor of medicine can perform cosmetic surgery without credentialing.
As all surgeries come with risk, patients should carefully evaluate the surgeon they plan to trust with their face or bodies. Remember to verify plastic surgery credentials.