blog { Categories

woman in conversation with a surgeon; how to choose which plastic surgery procedure

A lot of people today think cosmetic surgery equals plastic surgery. If you’re one of them, know that you’re not alone. Even though both disciplines have a lot in common and are somehow related, they’re not the same. There are fine distinctions between cosmetic and plastic surgery and they shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Here’s what you should know about both specialties.


There is a common confusion between cosmetic and plastic surgery. While one of the disciplines is much broader than the other, they do have a lot in common, but they also differ significantly.

Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery focuses on enhancing physical appearance in order to make you look and feel better. It uses various surgical and medical techniques to treat elective areas of your body that lack aesthetic appeal. The primary goals include improving the patient’s symmetry and proportions, not the body’s proper functioning.

There are various cosmetic procedures performed on both women and men. Among the most popular ones are:

  • liposuction
  • breast augmentation
  • cheek implants
  • tummy tucks
  • rhinoplasty
  • laser dermabrasion
  • face lifting

Cosmetic surgery isn’t essential in medical terms. Its goal is to simply improve one’s appearance by correcting areas that were causing a lot of embarrassment and stress.

Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery, on the other hand, focuses on reconstruction or replacement of certain areas in your body that were dysfunctional. Such defects may have been caused by trauma, at birth, disease, burns, accidents and other afflictions. In other words, plastic surgery aims at improving both functions and appearance.

Cosmetic surgery falls into a plastic surgery’s area of expertise. Examples of the latter include:

  • breast reconstruction
  • repairing damage caused by accidents, such as burns
  • hand surgery
  • cleft palate
  • scar revision surgery

Plastic surgery is extremely essential in medical terms. It improves one’s health and helps your body function. Patients usually suffer from birth defection or were accidents victims.

Knowing the Difference

There are many similarities between cosmetic and plastic surgeries. They do, however, differ in terms of goals, doctors’ training and procedures. Knowing the subtle difference will help you choose the right professional. Let’s have a look at how you can distinguish one from another.

Different Goals

While both disciplines deal with improving one’s body, their real goal is different. Plastic and cosmetic surgeons from Peoria emphasize that cosmetic surgery focuses on enhancing physical appearance, plastic surgery, on the other hand, aims at repairing and reconstructing defects in order for the body to function normally. The main difference here is, therefore, medical significance and the necessity of such procedures.

Cosmetic surgery treats areas around head, neck, and body. They all function properly, so the discipline is more elective. Plastic surgery is performed on both facial and body defects and it intends to improve the functioning and appearance.

Different Training

Another difference between cosmetic and plastic surgeries is the type of training needed to perform the procedures. Board certified surgeons have extensive knowledge of their area of expertise.

American Board of Cosmetic Surgery defines five training requirements for future cosmetic surgeons. These are breast surgery, tummy tuck, liposuction, face surgery, and other cosmetic surgeries. As much as 300 procedures are required in order to sit for the certification exam.

When it comes to the American Board of Plastic Surgery, six training requirements have been distinguished: hand surgery, reconstructive surgery, trauma surgery, congenital disability repair, and cosmetic surgery. However, only half of the 300 cosmetic surgery procedures are required to sit for the certification exam.

A cosmetic surgeon, therefore, is a doctor who has completed the training and has received his education through a fellowship program that can last from one to two years. A plastic surgeon has completed a three to five-year residency and learned little about cosmetic surgery.

Different Procedures & Benefits

Cosmetic surgery is less vast than plastic surgery. Here are some categories that fall into the cosmetic area of expertise:

  • facial contouring, e.g. cheek implants, otoplasty, mentoplasty, fat removal, graft, and  tissue transfers, brow lift, ear pinning, jaw bone reduction, nose reshaping
  • facial rejuvenation, e.g. Botox injections, laser resurfacing, Fraxel, facial toning, microdermabrasion, permanent makeup, dermal filler injections
  • skin rejuvenation, e.g. IPL treatments, chemical peels, anti-aging injections
  • body contouring, e.g. tummy tucks, liposuction
  • breast and buttocks augmentation
  • hair transplant

Cosmetic treatment entails a lot of benefits for the patient. Improvement of physical appearance is one thing, but increased confidence and self-acceptance are psychological factors that impact the well-being of oneself.

Plastic surgery is much broader than cosmetic surgery and addresses problems such as:

  • scars
  • effects of traumatic burns
  • hand surgery
  • skin repair
  • gender reassignment
  • congenital disabilities
  • reconstruction of damaged body parts such as breast reconstruction after mastectomy

Restoring damaged tissue and skin improves not only the proper functioning of the body but also patients’ self-esteem. They experience emotional benefits as they feel more confident than before. Any reason that caused their embarrassment can be disguised to a certain extent ensuring the well-being of the patients.

Choosing Your Surgeon

Finding the right professional who will perform your procedure is essential. Most procedures are invasive and the effect will be permanent. Should you go to a cosmetic or plastic surgeon? How do you find a doctor that will meet your expectations? Here’s a list of things to pay attention to when choosing the right professional.

Area of expertise

You can’t be perfect at everything and the same rule applies to surgeons. There are doctors who specialize in body shaping; others are good at facial procedures, while another group is pro when it comes to breast augmentation. Focus your attention to experts from the area you want to be improved, whether you need cosmetic or plastic surgery.


Choosing the right clinic is also important. You want to avoid shady places just because they had a special offer running. Also, choose a clinic that’s not too far from your area. The effects of your surgery will most likely be permanent, you shouldn’t be stingy. Reputable places offer prices that will differ by up to 10%.


You should always check your doctor’s credentials. Today, any physician can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon, so make sure he is one for real. Word of mouth is also helpful if you know someone who has undergone a similar procedure.

Other tips

  • Be open with your doctor; express yourself thoroughly so that he understands what your expectations are.
  • Ask about the procedure and make sure you get all the information you need. There are no silly questions.
  • Consider all the pros and cons of the treatment.
  • Choose the right moment for undergoing the procedure.
  • Don’t be biased by your surgeon. Make your own decision, but use his advice.


The world of medicine is enormous and it’s easy to get confused. All these peculiar names, disciplines, procedures make you wonder. As thin as it may seem, the border between cosmetic and plastic surgery is actually quite thick. Initially, similar-sounding specialties have a lot in common but at the same time, they differ significantly. Now that everything has been clarified, you can be sure you’ll make the right choice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Dig Deep

We offer nearly 50 categories of content to choose from. Find what speaks to you and stay informed!