Though they are related disciplines, cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are not the same. Simplistically, cosmetic surgery is an elective procedure while plastic surgery is reconstructive, but the differences go beyond that.
What is cosmetic surgery?
Cosmetic surgery is focused on enhancing someone’s appearance with both surgical means and non-invasive (injectables) surgical techniques. It can be performed on all areas of the body, but because it’s meant to have aesthetic appeal rather than fix the function of a body part, it’s considered elective surgery.
The main purpose of cosmetic surgery is to improve the aesthetic appeal, symmetry and proportion of the face and other body areas. Doctors in various medical fields, including plastic surgeons, perform elective cosmetic procedures that include:
- Breast enhancement: augmentation, lift, reduction
- Facial contouring: rhinoplasty, chin, cheek enhancement
- Facial rejuvenation: facelift, eyelid lift, neck lift, brow lift
- Body contouring: tummy tuck, liposuction
- Skin rejuvenation: laser resurfacing, Botox®, filler treatments such as Renuvion® J-Plasma, Dysport, Xeomin, Microneedling and Dermaplaning.
What is plastic surgery?
Plastic surgery, on the other hand, is surgery that reconstructs facial and body defects stemming from birth disorders, trauma, burns and disease and much more. Often plastic surgery is not considered elective.
Many plastic surgeons seek additional training to perform cosmetic surgery, though the main surgical training is in reconstructive plastic surgery. Some plastic surgery procedures may include:
- Breast reconstruction
- Burn repair surgery
- Congenital defect repair: cleft palate, extremity defect repair
- Lower extremity reconstruction
- Hand surgery…and more
How to choose a cosmetic surgeon
Those interested in getting cosmetic surgery should look for a surgeon who specializes in that particular procedure. When choosing a health care provider, look for the surgeon’s training, education, experience and a demonstrated history in the practice, according to the American Medical Association. It’s also great if you’re able to talk to friends who have had the procedure you want or patients of the surgeon you’re considering.
The training and certification process for a cosmetic surgeon differs from the path of a board-certified plastic surgeon as well.
Board-certified cosmetic physicians complete an integrated residency training that combines three years of general surgery and three years of plastic surgery or an independent, five-year residency program in general surgery followed by the three-year plastic surgery residency program.
Becoming a board-certified cosmetic surgeon
After his residency, Dr. Mikel Lo of About Faces Cosmetic Surgery completed two separate fellowships over three years to master the art of cosmetic surgery. At Arizona Centre Plastic Surgery, he first completed an ophthalmic and facial plastic surgery fellowship focusing on plastic surgery around the eyelids and face. His cosmetic surgery fellowship at the Anderson Plastic Surgery Center expanded his scope to general cosmetic surgery, while he became an expert in cosmetic techniques of endoscopic brow lift, eyelid surgery, liposuction, and fat transplantation.
Dr. Lo, an expert in ophthalmic plastic and facial cosmetic surgery, is a member of the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ASOPRS) and the American Board of Ophthalmology.
As a member of the prestigious ASOPRS society, Dr. Lo is one of approximately 500 surgeons in the world to complete an accredited fellowship, pass extensive written and oral board exams, and complete a peer-reviewed thesis relating to ophthalmic and facial plastic surgery.
Dr. Lo continues to learn new techniques to give his patients the best results. He constantly searches for ways to improve results while minimizing the scarring and down time resulting from surgery. Schedule your consultation with Dr. Lo today.