At Altiora Plastic Surgery and Med Spa, we have heard some confusion between the title “plastic surgeon” and “cosmetic surgeon.” Rember the Shakespearean saying, “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The saying might pertain to roses, but not to surgeons. So, what is the difference between the between the title “plastic surgeon” and “cosmetic surgeon?”
The Training of a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Actually this is a very common misunderstanding. So, to compare the two, let’s first consider their training.
The training of a board-certified plastic surgeon begins with medical school. Medical School is followed by three years of work as a surgical resident. This includes training in all types of surgical procedures. Then, they spend at least another three years in focused plastic surgery. After this 6-8 years, many continue with fellowships in such areas as “microvascular, craniofacial, hand, pediatric and aesthetic.”
A Plastic Surgeon who is certified by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has sworn “to uphold the highest standards in skills, knowledge, judgment, safety and ethics” in their practices. Likewise, “Over the years, board certified plastic surgeons, and members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, have been dedicated to continuously improving plastic surgery techniques through intense research and clinical trials driven towards patient safety and outcomes.”
The Training of a Non-Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon
In contrast to this specific and surgically-oriented training, a “cosmetic surgeon” can have a background from any medical specialty. Their training might be in general surgery, dermatology, internal medicine or gynecology.
Therefore, the amount of training for a cosmetic surgeon can range ”anywhere from a one-year cosmetic surgery fellowship to a handful of short weekend courses on topics ranging from how to perform liposuction, utilize injectables, or place breast implants.”
To put it briefly and bluntly, many types of physicians can perform “Cosmetic surgery.” But, wouldn’t you prefer a physician under the guidance of a properly credentialed board? The only board acknowledged by the National Board of Medical Specialties is the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Now you know.
Surgeon, Specialist or Sham?
In other words, many “cosmetic surgeons” are not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. It is true a surgeon might have a framed certificate on his or her office wall, indicating some type of board certification.
Altiora Plastic Surgery and Med Spa cautions you in the official words of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, “Do not be confused by other official-sounding boards and certifications. The ABPS is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), which has approved medical specialty boards since 1934.”
Here is the clincher: There is no ABMS recognized certifying board with “cosmetic surgery” in its name.
Let us reprise: Practitioners who only go by the designation “cosmetic surgeons” can actually be specialists in “many other medical areas which are not certified or acknowledged to perform cosmetic procedures to these high standards.”
Unfortunately, did you know that some “cosmetic surgeons” have no medical training at all. Some studied the specialty through non-accredited training workshops? The Smart Beauty Guide recently warned, that some cosmetic surgeons “may be certified by their specialty board which may not even be a surgical specialty, such as internal medicine.”
So, when you are shopping for a reconstructive or cosmetic surgery, do your research, listen closely and check the name of the board that certified your potential cosmetic surgeon. If you book a consultation, ask, “Are you certified by the ABPS?” If they are not so certified, then they do not have the highest possible training and expertise in the field.
Your Commitment: Not Only Your Beauty but Your Life Is in Your Surgeon’s Hands
Of course, a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon has earned the training and expertise to do the routine aesthetic procedures. Their expertise goes beyond routine surgery. They are also experienced and trained to handle surgical complications. At Altiora, we ask, how much training do you want your surgeon to have if complications arise during your breast reconstruction, blepharoplasty or facelift? We hope you want the best. And if you do, you must go to a surgeon who is an ABPS board certified plastic surgeon.
Hospital Facilities: The Acid Test for a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
There is a very special way to focus on the Surgeon’s true qualifications before you sign your permission papers. Most hospitals will only permit Board Certified plastic surgeons to perform cosmetic procedures within their walls. Thus, they only grant privileges to surgeons who have proven “competency, training in an accredited residency, and the proper board certification.”
At Altiora, we do not believe a surgeon should perform a cosmetic procedure unless they have hospital privileges. Many doctors may own their own facilities. At the same time, they possess hospital privileges. Thus, you can be reassured that you are in good hands if hospitalization becomes necessary.