Many people are confused by the terms “plastic surgery” and “cosmetic surgery”. However, these two disciplines pursue different goals. We think it is important to know the difference before you go to the doctor’s office.

In fact, the most relevant difference is that the two terms are not synonyms,. Neither all plastic surgeons have the training and certifications necessary to do aesthetic surgeries, nor all plastic surgeons have the experience and certifications to do cosmetic surgeries.

Why are they different?

Cosmetic surgery is a medical discipline that focuses on enhancing the patient´s appearance with medical and surgical techniques. These can be done in the face or body area.  However, it is important to highlight that the areas of the patient that are going to be enhanced have proper functional conditions; therefore, their aesthetic improvement is completely voluntary.

Plastic surgery, on the other hand, is defined as the surgical specialization dedicated to reconstructing facial or body defects as a consequence of disease, trauma, burns, or birth defects. Thus, its nature is reconstructive.

Different Training

Each specialization has different goals, purposes and training.

In the practice of the US medicine, there is not an specialization called cosmetic surgery, so in order to get the “degree”, the surgeon should study General Surgery, become an specialized physician and then continue the sub specialization of cosmetic surgery, achieved only by doing a fellowship with world renowned cosmetic surgeons and receiving a certification from a well known cosmetic surgery association.

Specialized plastic surgeons in Mexico must first specialize in General Surgery and then subspecialize in Plastic Surgery. Then, they can request the certification of the Mexican Board of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery.

How to choose the right surgeon?

When choosing a surgeon, always focus on his/her education, training, experience, and history.

Patients should decide about their surgeon depending on two important matters: the procedure that they want to undergo and proven evidence from his/her surgeon that shows the experience in this particular procedure.

An example in Mexico and the United States of America

José Luis Salas Martínez M.D. went to medical school in the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and later he specialized in Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck surgery in the Central Military Hospital.

After his specialization, he did a Fellowship under the renowned plastic and cosmetic surgeon George H. Brennan M.D.

He is an active member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS), a very prestigious institution that receives specialized surgeons that want to constantly improve their cosmetic surgery skills.

He is also a member of the Mexican Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, the Mexican Society of Rhinology and Facial Surgery, the American Society of Cosmetic Breast Surgery, as well as being the current chair of Hospitals and Clinics in Baja California, among other organizations and associations.

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