The Important Differences Between a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon vs Cosmetic Surgeon


When it comes to plastic surgery, expertise matters. You wouldn’t pick a novice to perform your nose job, your tummy tuck, or your breast reduction; on the contrary, you want someone who has ample experience performing surgeries, and who has exhibited a high level of knowledge and professionalism within their discipline.

One way to ensure that you are choosing the right person to perform your plastic surgery is to pick someone who is board certified. A board certified plastic surgeon is much more likely to provide you with the results you want and to ensure your safety throughout the procedure.

When it comes to picking a board certified plastic surgeon vs cosmetic surgeon, we highly recommend that patients opt for the former. And, we are happy to note that all six surgeons at Charlotte Plastic Surgery fall into this category.

Choosing a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon vs Cosmetic Surgeon

So, why is it so important to make this distinction between choosing a board certified plastic surgeon vs cosmetic surgeon? There are several crucial areas of distinction.

Different Levels of Accountability

One important distinction is that board certified plastic surgeons are accountable to the standards of a recognized medical organization; that’s not necessarily the case with cosmetic surgeons.

More specifically, plastic surgeons can be certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Board of Plastic Surgery, two professional organizations that hold their members to a high bar.

By contrast, cosmetic surgery is not a recognized medical specialty. Any doctor (general practitioners, dermatologists, etc.) can describe themselves as cosmetic surgeons, often misleadingly, and without any sense of accountability to a reputable medical organization.

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon vs Cosmetic Surgeon Accountability

Training and Ability

There are other important distinctions between a board certified plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon, including distinctions in training and ability.

Let’s start with board certified plastic surgeons. To obtain this certification, surgeons must obtain significant training in cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. And, they must have privileges to perform surgery in local hospitals.

On the other hand, it is not possible to be board certified in cosmetic surgery; again, this is not a recognized medical discipline, and there is no certifying board. As such, it is impossible to verify the level of training cosmetic surgeons have. Often, they simply take a few additional classes or online seminars, rather than getting the robust formal education needed to become a board certified plastic surgeon.

Quality and Safety

To say that there are different standards between a board certified plastic surgeon vs cosmetic surgeon would be an understatement.

Board certified plastic surgeons require at least seven years of additional education, including specialty plastic surgery residencies. This extra education matters a great deal to you, the patient because it means your surgeon is well-equipped to keep you safe and to support your wellbeing throughout the procedure.

By contrast, cosmetic surgeons often try to lure in patients by offering common procedures for a reduced fee… but frankly, you get what you pay for. Again, we have to emphasize that there is no additional training or residency program required to call yourself a cosmetic surgeon.

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon vs Cosmetic Surgeon Safety

Elite Membership

A final note of distinction with regard to a board certified plastic surgeon vs cosmetic surgeon: The former is much more likely to belong to an elite medical society. As you do your homework on different surgeons, be on the lookout for membership in groups like the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, two truly prestigious organizations with high thresholds for membership.

Meanwhile, there are a number of medical societies that include the term “cosmetic” in their title (one example is the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery) but do not carry the same prestige or the same lofty standards for membership. These organizations simply are not as respected within the medical community.

Choosing a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

The bottom line: When you choose a board certified plastic surgeon, it should give you some peace of mind. If nothing else, it should offer some certainty that the provider you have chosen has been rigorously trained, and has demonstrated the level of skill required to keep you safe during your procedure.

By contrast, selecting a cosmetic surgeon doesn’t really give you any such reassurance. It doesn’t denote any particular level of education, accountability to a medical organization, or requisite level of skill. This isn’t to say that all cosmetic surgeons are bad, but they are not certified in any way that attests to their skill, their education, or their ability to keep you safe.

As you search for someone to perform your surgical procedure, it’s crucial to do your due diligence. First and foremost, always ask about certification, keeping in mind these key distinctions between a board certified plastic surgeon vs cosmetic surgeon. Also, don’t hesitate to ask about additional memberships in elite medical societies and plastic surgery organizations.

At Charlotte Plastic Surgery, we are very proud of the fact that each of our doctors is a board certified plastic surgeon. We would be more than happy to discuss our experience and our accreditation further when you come in for a one-on-one consultation. And, we encourage you to ask any additional questions you may have about our standards of quality and patient safety.

Make an Appointment with Charlotte Plastic Surgery

To schedule an appointment for a consultation, and to learn more about achieving your aesthetic goals, we welcome you to contact us at your next opportunity. Charlotte Plastic Surgery is here to provide you with the highest level of excellence, no matter your needs or goals.