13th of April 2013

Plastic vs Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery

Cosmetic (or sometimes called Aesthetic) surgery is a ‘type’ of plastic surgery, and probably the most talked about in recent times. Cosmetic surgery is more a choice to change an aspect of ourselves or our appearance rather than surgery, which is medically necessary.

Examples of cosmetic surgery include:

  • Breast Implants;
  • Liposuction;
  • Rhinoplasty, for improvement of looks not function;
  • Otoplasty, where the ears are pinned back so they don’t stick out.

Plastic surgery

Plastic surgery is a medical specialty concerned with the correction or restoration of form and function”.

Plastic surgery has many different areas of expertise including:

  • Burns;
  • Microsurgery;
  • Hand surgery;
  • Craniofacial;
  • Cosmetic surgery.

So what is the difference between a Plastic & Cosmetic Surgeon?

In Australia any doctor can label themselves a cosmetic surgeon. They may in fact be a GP that has been to a course, seminar or workshop here or overseas, and may not have formal qualifications.

A Plastic surgeon is a specialist who has completed formal training with the Royal Australian College of Surgeons (R.A.C.S). This takes a minimum of 8 years following completion of a medical degree, and the qualification awarded is a “Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons”, F.R.A.C.S. A Plastic surgeon can then go on to become a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (A.S.P.S), and the Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (A.S.A.P.S).

Having extensive surgical training and specialized techniques, Plastic surgeons therefore have the edge over Cosmetic surgeons/doctors, especially for reconstructive procedures. There are some instances where the standard routine procedure is not appropriate and this is where the Plastic surgeon can call on their extensive knowledge of anatomy in order to specifically enhance the surgical outcome for a patient. As in reconstruction, aesthetic or cosmetic procedures are also very individualized and should be tailored to each patient.

So what should I look for?

The abbreviation and certification (in the doctors rooms) showing, FRACS, ASPS & ASAPS.

Where can I go to check the credentials of a surgeon?