What is the difference between a cosmetic and plastic surgeon?

In today’s world, there are more doctors claiming they perform liposuction or others quoting the lowest price on breast augmentation even stating they are “board-certified”. However, buyers beware: these doctors are typically not plastic surgeons and therefore unqualified to perform cosmetic surgical procedures.

Often you’ll see the term “cosmetic surgeon” utilized in lieu of “plastic surgeon” making it confusing for patients researching who should perform their cosmetic procedure.

So what exactly does it mean to be a plastic surgeon? In short, the biggest difference is training. For any physician to be a plastic surgeon, they must complete a residency training program specifically in the specialized field of plastic surgery. Dr. Greenwald says, “this extensive training can take anywhere from 6-8 years following medical school and covers a broad range of procedures.”

What is a cosmetic surgeon? In actuality, any licensed physician can offer cosmetic services (liposuction, breast augmentation, etc.) and call themselves a “cosmetic surgeon”. However, it is important for patients to understand cosmetic surgery is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Therefore, there is no specialized training required for a physician to call themselves a “cosmetic surgeon”.

To draw comparison, your gynecologist may be advertising that he or she performs liposuction and claim they are “board-certified”. The truth is, they are likely board certified in their speciality, which in this case would be gynecology However, they can simply take a weekend course on how to perform liposuction and now this physician is considered a “cosmetic surgeon.” Dr. Greenwald says “Unless your physician is board certified in plastic surgery, they have not completed the required additional years of education and hands-on training of plastic surgeons.” He adds, “I encourage my patients to research anyone they are considering to perform their cosmetic procedure and ensure they are board certified in the specialty of plastic surgery.”

If you have questions or are interested in scheduling a consultation with board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Greenwald please contact his practice at (914) 421-0113.

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.