What’s the Difference Between Cosmetic Surgery and Plastic Surgery?

It’s common to see the terms “cosmetic surgery” and “plastic surgery” used interchangeably. While both cosmetic and plastic surgery can change your look and improve your confidence, there are some major differences between the two, including the types of procedures and your surgeon’s credentials. Here are some of the main differences and what to know about selecting the right one for you.

What is Cosmetic Surgery?

Cosmetic surgery is purely for aesthetics. In most cases, it’s not considered medically necessary by insurance companies. However, people mostly opt for cosmetic surgery to boost self-esteem. Examples of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures are:

What is Plastic Surgery?

When people talk about “plastic surgery”, they usually mean cosmetic surgery. However, plastic surgery shares many similarities with reconstructive surgery. It involves reconstructing birth defects or deformities due to traumatic injuries with a focus on correcting functional impairments. Examples of plastic surgery procedures are:

  • Cleft lip and palate repair
  • Breast reconstruction after mastectomy
  • Skin grafts

Additionally, some reconstructive procedures share similarities with cosmetic surgery. These include:

The Difference Between a Cosmetic Surgeon and a Plastic Surgeon

There are actually some differences between a cosmetic surgeon and a plastic surgeon, even though many people use the terms interchangeably. Ultimately, you’ll find surgeons who have some credentials in both areas, but it’s still important to look for the surgeon that fits your goals best.

Education and Qualifications

As a plastic surgeon, Dr. Kovanda can perform both cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. All plastic surgeons must complete a post-graduation residency program focused on plastic surgery. There are no residency programs in the United States dedicated solely to cosmetic surgery, meaning cosmetic surgeons do not have to complete a residency program focusing on cosmetic surgery. They can practice in other fields like gynecology, dermatology, or general surgery instead. For example, a dentist who offers lip fillers can call themselves a cosmetic doctor, meaning a cosmetic surgeon may not actually have credentials specific to cosmetic surgery. On the other hand, plastic surgeons have a broader education and experience (that may not include cosmetic surgery) but will have more training and certification from their respective programs.

Board Certification

Regardless of the procedure you wish to have, selecting a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery is the most important factor. This means that your plastic surgeon has received proper education and continues to educate themselves on the latest techniques, technologies, and developments in the field. In order to be board certified, a surgeon must have training not only in cosmetic surgery, but reconstruction surgery, trauma surgery, congenital defect repair, and disorders. Those who are only advertised as cosmetic surgeons are not required to be board certified. This means you should look for a board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Kovanda, who is board certified and a member of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Schedule a Consultation

Selecting a trained and experienced plastic surgeon is the most important decision you’ll make during your plastic or cosmetic surgery journey. To meet with Dr. Kovanda and learn more about your options, we invite you to contact our Minneapolis office by calling or filling out our online form.

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