Cosmetic Surgeon vs. Plastic Surgeon

Not sure which surgeon to choose?

You may be considering the possibility of undergoing surgery to regain your youthful appearance or body shape, but you’re not sure where to start looking… Researching your options is essential when searching for an experienced Surgeon that best suits your needs and desires.


So, should you be looking for a Plastic or Cosmetic surgeon?


There is a great deal of confusion surrounding what exactly the difference is between a Plastic Surgeon and a Cosmetic Surgeon. The difference lies in their qualifications. Essentially, a Plastic Surgeon is a doctor who has specialised in Plastic Surgery, and performs cosmetic surgery. A Cosmetic Surgeon is a doctor who is referred to as a ‘Cosmetic Surgeon,’ and performs cosmetic surgery.


Still confused?

This is because both surgeons perform cosmetic surgery, and both appear to deliver quality results. In order for the surgery candidate to make an educated decision, they must be completely aware of the difference.


The Difference


  • In Australia, Specialist Plastic Surgeons have studied specialist surgery for at least five years on top of their medical education (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery). Those trained to perform invasive surgical procedures are referred to as Plastic Surgeons.


  • Doctors, whom have obtained their Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery and not undergone specialist training, can perform Cosmetic Surgery. This is due to the minimal regulations around which doctors can perform what.


The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons notes that: ‘currently in Australia, it is legal for any doctor with a basic medical degree to perform surgery. Specialist Plastic Surgeons, on the other hand, have extensive surgical education and training including a minimum of 12 years medical and surgical education, with at least 5 years of specialist postgraduate training.’


Your Choice


With a Plastic Surgeon’s additional postgraduate training, comes their comprehensive knowledge of surgical techniques and solutions suited for a range of patients with diverse physiology. This simply means you’ll have more surgical options. For example, when discussing a Breast Augmentation you may be presented with options for the placement of the implants (above or below the muscle), the shape of the implants (round or tear-drop) and/or the type of incision used (inframammary incision or peri-areola incision).


A Cosmetic Surgeon may not offer you any surgical options to suit your anatomy and aesthetic preferences, as they feel more comfortable performing surgery their way.


When you opt for a Plastic Surgeon, you opt for more experience and training. With more experience and training, you’re likely to see a higher cost. However, you should never risk your surgical outcome with a Medical Practitioner with no formal surgical training, just to save yourself money.


With any surgery, there are risks involved. This is why research is essential before making a decision on who should perform surgery on you.


Tips for Researching Your Prospective Surgeon


  1. Ask them about their qualifications. Any surgeon should be happy to discuss this with you.
  2. Check your surgeon’s registration. You can access details of your surgeon’s registration on the Medical Board of Australia. You can access this here:
  3. Read patient reviews. Other patient reviews and testimonials will give you a good understanding of the care given and results obtained by the surgeon.
  4. Ask your friends and family about their surgeon. Word of mouth referrals are a great way to find you an expert in the field.
  5. Book a consult. This gives you a chance to meet your favourite surgeons and ask any questions you may have. For example, “how often have you performed this surgery?” and “what complications have you encountered?”


And finally, trust your instincts. You’re the only person that can make the right decision. If you feel at ease in your consultation and trust your surgeon with your body – you’re ready to pick a date.