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Cosmetic Surgery vs Plastic Surgery

Weighing the Alternatives of Cosmetic Surgery and Plastic Surgery

Deciding to undergo any surgical procedure requires thoughtful consideration. Every operation carries an element of risk. However, the choice between cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery is simple when you consider your goal.

Cosmetic surgery: Focused on enhancing appearance, cosmetic surgery involves surgical and medical techniques to improve the aesthetic appeal, symmetry and proportion of your body. It can be performed on all areas of the head, neck and body. This surgery is elective because the body already performs as it was intended.

Plastic surgery: Because this type of surgery is dedicated to reconstruction of facial and body defects due to birth disorders, trauma, burns and disease, plastic surgery expenses are usually covered by insurance. It is intended to correct or rebuild dysfunctional areas of the body.

Procedures associated with cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery

Although the aim of both specialties is to improve the body, the training, research and goals for surgeons differ.

Cosmetic surgeons can perform a variety of procedures but are often asked to do the following:

Plastic surgeons have a wider area of focus because they address both trauma and defects. They can perform all cosmetic surgery procedures as well as the following:

  • Burn repair including skin grafts
  • Congenital defect repair, such as cleft lips and cleft palates
  • Lower extremity reconstruction to align repairs or to heal open wounds
  • Hand surgery to address carpal tunnel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scar revision surgery to minimize the appearance of disfiguring scars



Training for cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery

After completing medical school, doctors complete a residency and/or fellowship program. Plastic surgeons must complete a general surgery residency plus two years in plastic surgery. They learn about the six key categories of plastic surgery, one area of which is cosmetic surgery.

The American Board of Plastic Surgery Training requires physicians to complete 55 cosmetic surgery cases in order to graduate. An additional fellowship in cosmetic surgery is optional.

After medical school, cosmetic surgeons may complete a residency and/or fellowship program, preferably in a specialty that involves surgical expertise. Many cosmetic surgeons, including Dr. Alan Greenberg, complete their residency and are board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, which includes surgical training for c-sections, hysterectomies and other conditions related to the female reproductive system. These physicians often pursue additional post-residency training that focuses exclusively on cosmetic surgery.

The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery requires that physicians complete 300 cosmetic surgeries in order to earn certification.

If you have questions about cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery or would like more information about Dr. Greenberg’s experience and credentials, please contact our offices.