Cosmetic Surgeons vs. Plastic Surgeons: What's the Difference?


Woman considering plastic surgery in Phoenix A growing number of people are interested in enhancing their appearance with aesthetic procedures such as breast augmentation, liposuction, and the ever-popular mommy makeover. But there’s a catch: Many of these people don’t know what to look for in a doctor.

There are important distinctions between a cosmetic surgeon and a plastic surgeon. Understanding those distinctions is a great way to start your search. It will help you find the most qualified provider to safely perform your procedure and give you the result you want.

What is a Cosmetic Surgeon?

Many individuals call themselves cosmetic surgeons. This term confuses patients because it implies that the provider has special aesthetic training when that may not be true.

In reality, any registered medical practitioner, from an oral surgeon to a dermatologist, can obtain a cosmetic surgeon title. There have even been examples of people with no medical training going by the name “cosmetic surgeon”.

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) has approved medical specialty boards since 1934. No certifying board with “cosmetic surgery” in its name is recognized by the ABMS.

What is a Plastic Surgeon?

Plastic surgeons must complete extensive training and formal residency requirements to obtain board certification through the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). The ABPS is recognized by the ABMS.

Competency in plastic surgery means a great deal. It indicates that the doctor has received:

  • Medical and surgical knowledge
  • Consistent standardized training
  • Technical expertise
  • Instruction on ethical conduct
  • Continuing medical education and certification
  • The skills needed to achieve patient satisfaction and resolve problems should they occur

Why Board Certification Is So Important

There are many different reasons why board certification matters to you as a patient. Most importantly, it shows that your plastic surgeon has the experience and training to give you the safest possible experience.

These days, most reputable hospitals will only allow board-certified plastic surgeons to perform cosmetic procedures at their facilities. Cosmetic surgeons are unable to obtain these hospital privileges — they operate out of their own offices or centers.

Some plastic surgeons also maintain their own facilities, but those facilities are independently certified to meet strict safety standards. And they can operate out of a hospital if needed.

Contact Dr. John Corey Today

Dr. John Corey is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Scottsdale. He has nearly three decades of experience helping women and men achieve their cosmetic goals. If you are looking for a plastic surgeon in Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa, or throughout Arizona, please call our office at 480-767-7700 to schedule an informative consultation.