Cosmetic Surgeons vs. Plastic Surgeons: Do you know the difference?

By Dr. Ralph Cozart

Elective cosmetic procedures and cosmetic surgery procedures have become a big business in the United States. Often it seems there is a Cosmetic Surgeon or Med spa on every street corner offering a variety of non-invasive cosmetic procedures. Cosmetic procedures and cosmetic surgery have been so commercialized that patients often forget the fact that these are actual medical procedures with real risks. The boom in office based cosmetic procedures such as fillers, Botox, non-invasive fat removal, and even major cosmetic surgeries while awake under local anesthesia has been driven in large by the lure of profit. In recent years, manufacturers of medical equipment have mass marketed nearly every member of the medical community with promises of large profits if you buy one of their machines. They will even “train” you and “certify” you in the use of their equipment.

There are so many “boards,” “organizations” and “certifications,” it’s no wonder that many patients are confused. A board certified plastic surgeon has completed at least 5 to 7 years of residency training devoted to all areas of plastic surgery, to include cosmetic surgical procedures. This is over 45,000 hours of hands on instruction in the operating room. Non-plastic surgery trained cosmetic surgeons might merely attend a weekend seminar with slide presentations and little if any hands on operative instruction. Since most patients research cosmetic procedures online, anyone with a good web designer can appear to be the best trained surgeon in the world.

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) oversees 24 medical specialty boards in the United States and is considered the gold standard of physician certification in the United States. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only officially accepted and recognized certification board in the United States by the ABMS as the standard for plastic surgery. Plastic surgeons must pass both the official extensive written and oral examinations under the strict Rules of the ABMS organization.  Members of the American Board of Plastic Surgery (Board Certified Plastic Surgeons) are listed by name on both the ASPS and ABMS websites.

Now YOU know the difference between a cosmetic surgeon and a plastic surgeon. Board certified plastic surgeons are clearly the most qualified to perform cosmetic surgery safely and effectively with years of hands on training in residency in the operating room. Any other doctor can call himself a cosmetic surgeon without adequate training. A plastic surgeon is a real cosmetic surgeon. Do your homework when considering cosmetic surgical procedures and take time to review the physician’s credentials. See the most qualified doctor – a board certified plastic surgeon.

About this writer

  • Dr. Ralph Cozart

    Dr. Ralph Cozart

    Dr. Ralph F. Cozart is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He has been in private practice in Myrtle Beach for over 19 years, and has served as the past president and treasurer for the South Carolina Society of Plastic Surgeons. Contact Dr. Cozart’s office at 843-497-7771.

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