I Didn’t Realize My Cosmetic Surgeon Wasn’t a Plastic Surgeon

  • Posted on: Mar 3 2017
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Like many twin sisters, Ana and Ava usually did things together – from learning to use makeup, to double dating, to even timing the dates of their wedding within weeks of each other.  As the years passed, and the sisters had children of their own, like many busy moms they would each look in the mirror and notice with alarm the growing number of wrinkles around their eyes, the dark circles and a jawline that was beginning to sag. As they approached their fiftieth birthday, they both started seriously to consider having a facelift. So they set about doing their homework to find a suitable surgeon they could trust, who would help give them the results they were looking for.


Ana found a local cosmetic surgeon who’s name she Googled, who had a good-looking website and seemed to offer a large selection of cosmetic surgical procedures. Ava, meanwhile, was doing her own homework and researching the credentials of cosmetic surgeons and plastic surgeons in their city who offered facelifts. Her favorite was a plastic surgeon who was a little less conveniently located than the cosmetic surgeon, but had a very established plastic surgery practice with an international reputation for excellence. They both wanted to work with the same surgeon, but each one thought her own choice was best. How to settle the question?


With a bit more research, the sisters found that there are many key differences between cosmetic and plastic surgeons, beginning with training. “Cosmetic surgery” is not a medical specialization; in fact, any practitioner who holds a medical degree and license may perform cosmetic surgery.  This means a dermatologist, an OB/GYN or even a general practitioner can legally offer aesthetic face and body procedures – including facelifts. Their training might consist of a one-year cosmetic surgeon fellowship, or a weekend course on how to do a breast augmentation, administer Botox, perform liposuction, etc.


Plastic surgeons who specialize in aesthetics, on the other hand, are considered “best of the best” for cosmetic surgical procedures because their level of training is so much more advanced. Becoming an aesthetic plastic surgeon is a true medical specialty for which a plastic surgeon has to train extensively for to meet the requirements of being board-certified in aesthetic plastic surgery.


“But the cosmetic surgeon is less expensive!” Ana insisted to her sister. That’s when Ava reminded her of the old saying, “You get what you pay for.”


Any plastic surgeon you consider should be certified by the supervisory plastic surgery board in her/her country. All ISAPS surgeons are board-certified in their own countries, as well as being members in good standing of the national plastic surgery organization of the country where they practice. They also have at least three years practicing plastic surgery beyond completing their training.

Additionally, cosmetic and plastic surgeons may have very different approaches to surgery itself. Cosmetic surgery often focuses solely on improving the appearance of a specific area or feature. Plastic surgery, on the other hand, also takes into consideration the harmony of the entire face and body when consulting with patients about surgery. It’s not as simple as walking into the consult with a photo of your favorite celebrity and saying, “I want this nose!” A highly trained and qualified plastic surgeon works closely with patients to determine which types of changes and treatment options are best, and will work closely with patients to ensure they understand that there is no “one size fits all” for any part of the body; each feature must be harmonious with the rest of your appearance.


If you’re considering having any kind of cosmetic surgery, start your search with our ISAPS member directory to provide you with the peace of mind that all our members are among the most highly qualified in their countries – and they have passed our rigorous application procedures in order to become an ISAPS member.

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