Plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon?

February 14, 2013

You probably hear the words plastic surgeon and cosmetic surgeon used interchangeably by your peers, the media, and in advertisements. However, the meaning behind the designations are completely different.

Plastic Surgeon

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), a board-certified plastic surgeon is a medical doctor who has completed at least five years of training, with two years specializing in plastic surgery, is trained in all plastic surgery procedures including face, breast, body and reconstructive, operates only in accredited medical facilities, adheres to a strict code of ethics, fulfills continuing medical education requirements annually, including a focus in patient safety and comfort, and is also board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Cosmetic Surgeon

Many doctors perform cosmetic procedures for patients without being board-certified in plastic surgery. The biggest difference between a plastic surgeon and doctors referring to themselves as cosmetic surgeons is the board certification in plastic surgery. Without board certification in plastic surgery, you can’t be sure that the doctor you are seeing has had any extensive professional medical training in the cosmetic procedure that they are performing. While they may have experience performing the procedure, they are not bound by the same standards as those of a medical doctor recognized as a plastic surgeon according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons – standards that are in place to protect patient safety.

Do Your Homework

Although many cosmetic procedures are not considered medically necessary, it is important that you ensure that you are consulting with a doctor that has the board certification recommended to perform your desired procedure. As a patient, you deserve the highest quality in care and choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon with a credible and experienced background is the smartest option when considering cosmetic surgery.

We’ve all seen the horror stories published in the media about cosmetic surgery procedures gone wrong, and frequently medical and non-medical professionals without board certification in plastic surgery are to blame for adverse reactions and outcomes. The first step to check to see if your doctor is a board-certified plastic surgeon, is to check the American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s doctor referral page for your doctor’s name.

Dr. John A. Ness is triple board certified with a concentration in plastic surgery and facial plastic surgery. After 17 years of post secondary education, medical training, and residency and practicing plastic surgery in Minnesota for 15 years, Dr. Ness continues to educate himself by taking exams and attending conferences to refresh and increase his knowledge of plastic surgery and patient safety. You can review Dr. Ness’ plastic surgery credentials at his website