NYC Plastic Surgeon vs. NYC Cosmetic Surgeons: What Is The Difference?

Very often people are confused with the terms plastic surgeon and cosmetic surgeon. These professions are very similar and patients may find it difficult to choose the right surgeon. Both professions mostly deal with the adjustment of the human body in one way or another. However, there are several subtle yet important differences between the two, professionals. 

Type of work:

A plastic surgeon can carry out cosmetic surgeries and reconstructive surgeries.  Cosmetic surgeries increase the desirability and attractiveness of the patient. However, reconstructive surgeries promote the functionality of  a patient’s body and it also improves overall health. It must also be noted that reconstructive surgeries also often take into account  aesthetics as well.

On the other hand, a cosmetic surgeon specializes only in aesthetic plastic surgeries. Cosmetic surgeons usually undertake surgeries like liposuctions, breast adjustments, nose adjustments, laser skin hair removal, male breast reductions, and so on. It is to be noted that though the cosmetic surgeries lay a major emphasis on improving the aesthetics of a person, they sometimes do improve the health of a person, like in the case of liposuction. These surgeries give the patients an opportunity to start afresh with a new and improved appearance, which they would have found impossible to achieve otherwise. 


Plastic surgeons complete a rigorous training of two years to eight years. On the other hand, a medical professional with any medical specialization (like a family physician, gynecologist, dermatologist, etc.) can complete a six month to one year course in cosmetic surgery to become a cosmetic surgeon.

Board Certification:  

In order to become a plastic surgeon, medical professionals have to be board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the ABPS. This board is recognized and included by the American Board of Medical Specialties or the ABMS. Medical professionals who complete their ABPS have completed one-year fellowship training in cosmetic surgery. This fellowship is in addition to the residency program completed by the medical professional.

On the other hand, cosmetic surgeons may receive a certificate from the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. However, this board is not recognized by the ABMS. It is an independent sub-specialty board that examines and certifies medical professionals to become cosmetic surgeons. Candidates have to complete an AACS-Approved fellowship or should have more than six years of cosmetic surgery experience. Cosmetic surgeons may also have certification from other specialty surgical boards that are not included in the ABMS. The nomenclature is confusing and patients should verify this detail before picking a surgeon to work on them.

In Short:

Plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons are differentiated by the type of work they do. As a result, the patient will have to choose a surgeon based on whether  they want functionality or improve aesthetics, the doctor’s education, and the certifications they possess. You can check education and board certification online or through the state medical board.