What is the difference between a facial plastic surgeon and a plastic surgeon?
The number of doctors performing cosmetic surgery procedures have significantly increased over the past 18 years since I have been in practice. Originally, the only doctors who were board certified and could claim to perform plastic surgery were doctors board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. To have certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a surgeon needed to complete typically 5 to 6 years of training in both general surgery and plastic surgery. During the 3 to 5 years of plastic surgery training, the courses of study are divided into hand surgery, burn treatments, reconstructive surgery, cosmetic body and breast surgery, and some facial surgery depending upon the training program. Facial plastic surgeons are typically board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, so therefore they undergo 1 or 2 years of general surgery followed by 3 to 4 years of ear, nose and throat and head and neck surgery. This includes intensive training in both reconstructive, functional, and cosmetic surgery of the head and neck including the cheeks of the face, neck, and nose as well as eyelids. To be certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, in addition to being able to pass an examination similar to what doctors who are American Board of Plastic Surgery certified, the majority of these facial plastic surgeons must complete a 1 year Fellowship in pure facial plastic surgery. During this 1 year, the surgeon will perform reconstructive and cosmetic surgery of the nose, eyelids, neck, face, and brows and in some programs the scalp would be included in the treatment of hair in some cases. The only surgeons in all 50 United States that can claim to be Board Certified in plastic surgery are those who are either certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Board of Facial, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Other surgeons who call themselves cosmetic surgeons can in fact in most cases perform elective cosmetic procedures but they cannot state that they are board certified in these areas but they can have proficiency in these different procedures.