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Who's Who? Understanding the Differences between a Cosmetic and Plastic Surgeon

There’s a lot to consider when deciding whether or not to move forward with a cosmetic procedure. One of the most important things is finding the right surgeon for your needs. The surgeon’s skill level and experience play a major role in how your results will turn out. In your search for the right one, it can seem confusing when you hear the terms cosmetic surgeon versus a plastic surgeon. Are they the same? What makes them different? In New Orleans, cosmetic surgery treatments are on the rise. So, here is a quick reference guide to help you determine which surgeon can help meet your specific needs.

Cosmetic vs Plastic

There are great surgeons in every city and New Orleans is no different. However, when it comes to correcting or enhancing a body part, it pays to go with the most experienced surgeon you can find. A board-certified plastic surgeon is generally where you want to start. A plastic surgeon undergoes many years of rigorous training by completing their residency program, taking their board exams, and then becoming certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery. This means they have not only spent years being trained in plastic surgery, but they’re also held to the highest standards when it comes to skills, knowledge, ethics, judgment, and safety. Plastic surgeons will hold hospital affiliations. This shows that the surgeon is competent to perform these procedures since hospitals require a certain criteria in order to allow the surgeon to treat patients there. Make sure the surgeon has hospital privileges in plastic surgery, not in other specialties.

Any type of doctor can call him or herself a cosmetic surgeon. A cosmetic surgeon can often only complete weekend courses and be allowed to perform cosmetic procedures. Cosmetic surgeons are not required to have specialized training in order to complete cosmetic procedures. Beware of surgeons who only call themselves cosmetic surgeons.

Education is the key difference

It’s important to understand that practitioners referring to themselves as a cosmetic surgeon can be from almost any medical specialty ranging from dermatology and gynecology, to a family physician. In most cases, at some point in their medical career, they simply decided to begin performing cosmetic procedures. Education is the key difference between a cosmetic and plastic surgeon. A plastic surgeon must go through extensive, rigorous training in all areas of surgery and then multiple years of focused plastic surgery training. For a medical doctor to become a cosmetic surgeon, they only need to complete training that can be anywhere from a one-year cosmetic surgery fellowship (which is not approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or ACGME) to short courses on how to perform treatments such how to place breast implants or do liposuction. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is an independent, not-for-profit, physician-led organization that sets and monitors the professional educational standards essential in preparing physicians to deliver safe, high-quality medical care to all Americans.

Why does this matter?

The bottom line is that not all surgeons are the same. A board-certified plastic surgeon has the experience and credentials to perform the surgeries you most likely will want done correctly. Take your time to research any potential New Orleans plastic surgeons and find out their background, areas of expertise, and education. It is a good idea to Google the surgeon to see if you can find any reviews or comments from previous patients. Use your time during your consultation wisely and get a good feel for both the surgeon and the staff, and ask as many questions as you feel are necessary. This is an excellent way to find out more about the surgeon and what their experience is in the procedure you’re considering. A cosmetic surgeon can certainly offer a number of treatments and claim to be a specialist in all, while a plastic surgeon is specialty trained and board-certified and has extensive training and experience in the specialized field of aesthetics. Selecting a good surgeon is key to good results so it’s important to choose wisely.

What questions should I ask during my consultation?

  • Are you board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?

  • How many years of training do you have in this specific procedure?

  • How many times have you performed this procedure?

  • Can you explain any potential risks?

  • What results can I expect?

  • Do you have any before or after photos of patients?

  • And a question you should ask yourself… Do I trust this surgeon?

How can I find out more?

Dr. Jules Walters is a highly skilled, board-certified plastic surgeon that has experience in multiple plastic surgery procedures ranging from facelifts, breast augmentations, tummy tuck procedures, and all areas in between. If you’re currently on the hunt for a reputable plastic surgeon that can provide excellent results then please give our New Orleans office a call today. Our patient satisfaction can back up our experience and the fantastic results our patients receive. We look forward to your visit so you can see for yourself why so many patients choose Dr. Walters for their surgical needs.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.