The terms “plastic” surgery and “cosmetic” surgery are often interchanged and confused. The field of plastic surgery, performed by board-certified plastic surgeons, used to be known as plastic and reconstructive surgery. The name was changed to further alleviate confusion in the field, intended to simplify things. With the evolution of” cosmetic surgeons”, those not truly board certified in plastic surgery, the current confusion has arisen. The public must be aware of these differences when seeking out the right surgeon for them!
Plastic surgery encompasses both cosmetic (aesthetic) surgery and reconstructive surgery. Cosmetic (aesthetic) surgery includes elective procedures with the objective of improving appearances. These include facial procedures such as rhinoplasty (nose job); body procedures such as breast enhancement, abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). Reconstructive procedures are intended to restore form and function that are lost due to injury or surgery. Procedures such as breast reconstruction, following mastectomy, facial reconstruction after an auto accident are examples of common reconstructive procedures.
Board-certified plastic surgeons are certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to perform both cosmetic and reconstructive procedures of the face and body. Cosmetic surgeons have no ABMS certification to perform any cosmetic procedures on the face or body.
Michael S. Beckenstein,M.D., a Birmingham, Alabama board-certified plastic surgeon specializes in both plastic and reconstructive surgery. He is ABMS certified to perform cosmetic surgery on the face and body. He states that there is a lot the public needs to know about the differences in board certification between board-certified plastic surgeons and those calling themselves cosmetic surgeons. This is discussed in detail in part II of this blog, coming soon.