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Tips for Choosing a Cosmetic Surgeon

What is the difference between cosmetic and plastic surgery?

Cosmetic surgery is a unique discipline of medicine focused on enhancing appearance through surgical and medical techniques. Cosmetic surgery can be performed on all areas of the head, neck and body. Because treated areas function properly but lack aesthetic appeal, cosmetic surgery is elective

Plastic surgery is defined as a surgical specialty dedicated to reconstruction of facial and body defects due to birth disorders, trauma, burns, and disease. Plastic surgery is intended to correct dysfunctional areas of the body and is reconstructive in nature

How does the education differ between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon?

ecifically focused on cosmetic surgery, physicians who wish to pursue cosmetic surgery have different backgrounds. First, a physician must go through medical school and a residency program, preferably in a surgical specialty such as general surgery, otolaryngology (head and neck surgery), dermatologic surgery or plastic surgery. After proving competent in anatomy, physiology, pathology and basic sciences, a physician may attain board certification in their specialty and then continue their post-residency training specifically in cosmetic surgery. This can be done through a fellowship program (a one-on-one observational and training program with an experienced cosmetic surgeon), as well as through workshops, seminars and lectures. Physicians with enough experience in cosmetic surgery may choose to become certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.

Plastic surgeons follow the same educational timeline as many cosmetic surgeons. After finishing medical school they complete a residency in plastic surgery, learning to treat defects of the face and body including tumors, cleft palates, deformities, hand repair and burn injuries. A physician may then become certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. At this point, a plastic surgeon may take the same steps as a general surgeon or dermatologic surgeon to gain experience in cosmetic surgery — through a fellowship training program, workshops, seminars and lectures, and then become certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery after gaining more experience

What does it mean to be “Board Certified”?

ny yardsticks in determining a surgeon’s qualifications. It is important to ask your doctor about his or her credentials and study them carefully. Each certifying board has different requirements and measures a physician’s education and experience in different fields. Check your doctor’s board certification and professional society affiliation(s) and call the board or society to find out what the requirements are for membership

All Fellows of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery are certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery and/or have their initial board certification by one of the member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) such as the American Boards of Dermatology, Otolaryngology, Ophthalmology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Plastic Surgery. This provides some assurance of formal training in the fundamentals of cosmetic surgery. All of these specialty boards require at least four years of residency training in plastic and/or cosmetic surgical procedures and provide a solid base for the doctor’s skills.

Many of these board-certified physicians will then go on to complete the requirements to undergo the rigorous oral and written testing and scrutiny to become board-certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, which has established a strict set of criteria to ensure experience and proficiency specifically in cosmetic surgery.

At what age do most people have cosmetic surgery?

According to AACS procedural statistics the average age of patients receiving cosmetic surgery is 41. Treatments such as breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty and dermabrasion are common among younger patients while procedures including blepharoplasty, breast lift, facelift, and Botox are most commonly sought after by older patients.


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Boomers Resource Guide is a special supplement to the Senior Citizen's Guide