Plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are two distinct, yet related, medical specialties that involve the alteration of the human body. While both involve surgical procedures, there are important differences between the two that are important to understand.
What is Plastic Surgery?
Plastic surgery is a medical specialty that involves the repair, reconstruction, or replacement of physical defects of form or function involving the skin, musculoskeletal system, craniofacial structures, hand, extremities, breast and trunk, and external genitalia or cosmetic enhancement of these areas of the body. Plastic surgeons are trained and certified in the surgical and non-surgical reconstruction of the face, head, and body. Plastic surgeons can also perform cosmetic surgery, but they are trained to handle more complex cases and to address both functional and aesthetic concerns.
What is Cosmetic Surgery?
Cosmetic surgery, on the other hand, is a subspecialty of plastic surgery that specifically focuses on enhancing the appearance of the body through surgical and non-surgical procedures. While plastic surgeons may perform cosmetic procedures, many cosmetic surgeons do not have the same level of training in plastic surgery, and therefore may not be able to address functional or reconstructive needs as effectively.
What are the specific differences between cosmetic and plastic surgery?
One of the key differences between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery is the level of invasiveness of the procedures. Plastic surgery procedures, such as reconstruction after cancer surgery, hand surgery, and craniofacial surgery, are often more invasive and carry more risks than cosmetic surgery procedures, such as liposuction, breast augmentation, and facelifts. Additionally, plastic surgery procedures often require a longer recovery time and may leave more noticeable scarring.
Another key difference between the two is the goal of the surgery. Plastic surgery is often performed to correct functional impairments caused by congenital defects, injury, infection, tumors, or disease. The goal of plastic surgery is to restore the normal appearance and function of the body. Cosmetic surgery, on the other hand, is performed to enhance the appearance of the body and is typically elective, meaning it is not medically necessary.
It is also important to note that not all plastic surgeons are board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). The ABPS is the only plastic surgery board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), and it requires that surgeons complete a minimum of six years of surgical training and education, including a minimum of three years of plastic surgery training. While many cosmetic surgeons may have a similar level of training and experience, they may not be certified by the ABPS.
In summary, plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are related, yet distinct specialties that involve the alteration of the human body. Plastic surgery is a medical specialty that focuses on repairing, reconstructing, or replacing physical defects of form or function, while cosmetic surgery specifically focuses on enhancing the appearance of the body. Plastic surgery procedures are often more invasive, carry more risks, require a longer recovery time, and may leave more noticeable scarring than cosmetic surgery procedures. Additionally, plastic surgery is often performed to correct functional impairments, while cosmetic surgery is elective and performed to enhance appearance. It is important to choose a qualified and board-certified surgeon for any surgical procedure.
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