Plastic Surgeon vs. Cosmetic Surgeon: What is the Difference?

Plastic surgeon vs. cosmetic surgeon

“Plastic surgeon” and “cosmetic surgeon” may sound like comparable terms, but there are actually key differences in the training and education it takes to achieve each title. It is important for a potential patient to understand the differences before they choose a doctor to perform their plastic surgery. Below, New York plastic surgeon Dr. Joshua Greenwald discusses the differences between the two, and why you should select a plastic surgeon for your cosmetic procedure.   

Board Certification

One of the most important defining characteristics of any plastic surgeon is board certification. This signifies that, not only has the surgeon gone through the appropriate training to receive a medical degree, he or she has also undergone considerable training within the specialty. Here is why choosing a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery matters:

  • The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties for plastic surgery.
  • An American Board of Plastic Surgery certification guarantees that your doctor has received not only a medical degree, but also formal training in the plastic surgery field from an accredited program.
  • The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is NOT recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Background and Training

Plastic surgeons must complete at least three years of general surgical training upon graduation from medical school. In addition to general surgical training, their residencies also entail an extra two to three years of plastic surgery training. Plastic surgeons may then go on to an additional residency or fellowship program to hone skills for their specific area of expertise (for example, facial or breast surgery). Cosmetic surgeons, however, are not required to adhere to a specific course. They may complete residencies in any type of surgery, ranging from dermatology to gynecology. Ultimately, any physician can label themselves a cosmetic surgeon. Some dermatologists market themselves as such to cast a wider net for potential patients. However, many of these physicians lack the extensive training and experience needed to perform plastic surgery procedures safely and successfully.

Why Experience Matters

If you were deciding on a new hairstyle, or even shopping for a new couch, chances are you would spend a few hours researching and narrowing down your best options. There are just as many options out there for your plastic surgery. Do not feel limited to the doctors in your immediate area. Put forth the legwork in finding the doctor whose reviews and before-and-after gallery reflect the type of results you are looking for. Surgery is a very personal and permanent choice, and should only be done by someone you trust.

Contact New York plastic surgeon Dr. Joshua Greenwald and schedule an appointment today.

Dr. Joshua Greenwald is a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City who studied and trained at prestigious educational institutions including Columbia University, Emory University, and New York University School of Medicine. His keen aesthetic eye and refined surgical techniques have led him to be a top choice for cosmetic face, breast, and body procedures in NYC. His exceptional patient care has earned him the distinction of “Top Doc” by both Westchester Magazine and Castle & Connolly for over 10 years running. Dr. Greenwald is an active member of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the American Medical Association, and the Westchester County Medical Society.