womans-faceFor prospective plastic surgery patients, there are many decisions that need to be made before any procedure can take place. However, there is one decision that often looms largest and that is how to choose who will be performing your cosmetic procedure. One common mistake that many people make during this process is not fully understanding the difference between doctors that are plastic surgeons and those who describe themselves as “cosmetic surgeons.” The difference may seem slight, but I assure you that this distinction is of critical importance.

In order to be considered a board-certified plastic surgeon, there is a rigorous education and certification process. This begins by completing 4 years of medical school, followed by a 5 or 6-year medical residency that requires extensive training in both general surgery and plastic surgery in order to fine-tune important surgical techniques. Lastly, a board-certified plastic surgeon must pass the certification exam administered by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, which requires a level of knowledge, technical skill, and experience needed to safely perform cosmetic procedures on patients. Some plastic surgeons like myself have more than one board-certification.

Doctors who consider themselves cosmetic surgeons (as opposed to plastic surgeons) may be doing so to disguise the fact that they may not technically be qualified to perform these surgeries in a way that a board-certified plastic surgeon would be. In fact, the term “cosmetic surgeon” is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. This means that it is technically legal for any licensed physician to describe themselves as a “cosmetic surgeon” and perform plastic surgery procedures that they might not be properly trained or skilled enough to perform safely.

Needless to say, working with an unqualified surgeon is not a situation that any plastic surgery patient wants to find themselves in. In addition to providing the best, longest-lasting cosmetic results, working with a board-certified plastic surgeon can help promote your safety during and following your cosmetic procedure. Even the most routine cosmetic procedures are still surgery and safety must remain a top priority.

Board-certification is only one part of the equation when choosing a doctor to perform your plastic surgery procedure. For more information on the cosmetic procedures that I perform or to schedule a complimentary plastic surgery consultation, please contact me, Dr. David Whiteman at Southern Plastic Surgery. And follow along with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for additional plastic surgery tips, news, and more.