Plastic Surgery vs. Cosmetic Surgery – What’s the Difference?

You must have always thought that plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are the same, right? Apparently, they are different, but there’s a reason why they are mistaken for being the same. There is a notable number of surgeons specialising in plastic surgery that focus their practice more with cosmetic surgery, which is the reason why the terms are used interchangeably. But technically, this is incorrect. Plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery have specialties that are closely related to each other, but these two are different.

cosmetic surgery

Each has different goals

While both plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery deal with enhancing the body of the patient, what makes them different is the discipline, training, goals, and research on the outcomes of the patient.

Cosmetic surgery focuses more on enhancing appearance

The techniques, procedures and the principles of cosmetic surgery are focused more on the appearance of the patient. The key goals are enhancing the aesthetic appeal, proportion, and symmetry. This particular discipline can be performed in all aspects of the body, neck, and head. Since the areas to be treated are functioning normally, it is elective to take cosmetic surgery. This is practiced mostly by doctors coming from different medical fields, which also includes plastic surgeons.

The cosmetic surgery procedures’ scope is as follows:

  • Skin rejuvenation: Botox®, Laser Resurfacing, Dermal Filler Treatments
  • Body contouring: Liposuction, Tummy Tuck, Gynecomastia Treatment
  • Facial rejuvenation: Eyelid Lift, Facelift, Brow lift, Neck lift
  • Facial contouring: Cheek or Chin Enhancement, Rhinoplasty
  • Breast Enhancement: Reduction, Lift, Augmentation

Dermal Fillers

One of the most famous cosmetic procedures of 2017 are Dermal Fillers. These injections fall under the category cosmetic surgery. This is a really big topic if you want to learn more about Dermal Fillers visit this page: Dermal Fillers can also be called hyaluronic acid fillers, if you’re thinking about undertaking this procedure, make sure you’ll consult a qualified cosmetic surgeon. Most of the cosmetic surgery clinics offer free consultations nowadays!


plastic surgery clinic

Plastic Surgery focuses more on repairing defects or reconstructing a normal appearance and function

Plastic surgery is described as a surgical discipline wherein it is dedicated to reconstructing body and facial defects due to diseases, burns, and trauma or birth disorders. This discipline is intended in correcting dysfunctional aspects of the body and can be reconstructed. While a lot of plastic surgeons prefer to add more training and able to perform cosmetic surgery, too, yet the basis for their surgical training still focuses on the reconstructive plastic surgery. Because of this reason, the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons had changed their name to American Society of Plastic Surgeons back in 1999 to communicate strongly with their message that they are different discipline from the cosmetic surgeons. They also want to tell the public that reconstructive and plastic surgeons are the same.

Here are some examples of plastic surgery:

  • Hand surgery
  • Lower extremity reconstruction
  • Burn repair surgery
  • Breast reconstruction
  • Scar revision surgery
  • Congenital defect repairs like extremity defect repair or cleft palate

Training in both are acquired separately

Since plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery have each distinct practice, goals and the procedure set use, it only follows that their certification and training process for their board certification will look entirely different when both are compared.
Plastic surgeons acquire their certification via post-graduate residency program. This means that they need to complete the general surgery residency and another two years for plastic sugary. The residency programs with plastic surgery may include a portion of the cosmetic surgery training.