In this era of development and ever evolving society, acceptance towards the cosmetic procedures is increasing with each passing day. Looking young and beautiful is becoming both a need and desire of the present day. I recall a famous saying that “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. Similarly making beautiful and looking young lies in the hands of a cosmetic surgeon. The choice of cosmetic surgeon will be a choice one lives with for years, if not entire life. A successful procedure will make one feel more like yourself and give greater confidence for years to come. On the other hand, ending up in the hands of an inexperienced surgeon increases ones chances of having poor results, which can lead to additional costs, time, and heartache.

Cosmetic Surgery, Plastic Surgery—what’s the Difference?

Most of us believe that cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are the same. The reason for this can be explained in a simple way. Many plastic surgeons choose to focus their practice on cosmetic surgery, and as such, the terms are often used interchangeably. But this is misused by certain to call themselves cosmetic surgeons without even having the qualification of being a plastic surgeon. Cosmetic surgery and Plastic surgery are closely related specialties, cosmetic being the sub speciality of Plastic surgery.

1. Cosmetic Surgery is a step ahead of Plastic Surgery

  • While both cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery deal with improving a patient’s body, the overarching philosophies and goals for patient outcomes are different. But methods and pathways are same.

A. Cosmetic Surgery: Focused on Enhancing Appearance

The procedures, techniques, and principles of cosmetic surgery are entirely focused on enhancing a patient’s appearance. Improving aesthetic appeal, symmetry, and proportion are the key goals. Cosmetic surgery can be performed on all areas of the head, neck, and body. Because the treated areas are already functioning properly, cosmetic surgery is elective.

The scope of cosmetic surgery procedures includes:

a. Breast Enhancement: Augmentation, Lift, Reduction

b. Facial Contouring: Rhinoplasty, Chin, or Cheek Enhancement

c. Facial Rejuvenation: Facelift, Eyelid Lift, Neck Lift, Brow Lift

d. Body Contouring: Tummy Tuck, Liposuction, Gynecomastia Treatment

e. Skin Rejuvenation: Laser Resurfacing, Botox, Filler Treatments

B. Plastic Surgery: Focused on Repairing Defects to Reconstruct a Normal Function & Appearance

Plastic surgery is defined as a surgical specialty dedicated to reconstruction of facial and body defects due to birth disorders, trauma, burns, oncological resections and other diseases. Plastic surgery is intended to correct dysfunctional areas of the body and is reconstructive in nature. While many plastic surgeons choose to complete additional training and perform cosmetic surgery as well, the basis of their surgical training remains reconstructive plastic surgery. Examples of plastic surgery procedures:

a. Breast Reconstruction

b. Burn Repair Surgery

c. Congenital Defect Repair: Cleft Palate, Extremity Defect Repair

d. Lower Extremity Reconstruction

e. Hand Surgery

f. Scar Revision Surgery

2. Training in Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery

• Plastic surgery training is completed through a Superspeciality residency program that includes three years of general surgery and three years of plastic surgery training.

• Therefore, the title “board certified plastic surgeon” indicates a certain level training and experience with respect to plastic surgery,

• Cosmetic surgery training is completed primarily after or along residency training in Plastic surgery. Many plastic surgeons opt to complete a post-residency fellowship-training program in cosmetic surgery or by training under a certified surgeon.

• It is extremely important to do research before choosing a cosmetic surgeon. To find the most qualified doctor for a specific cosmetic procedure, one must compare doctors’ overall (residency and post-residency) training, experience, and proven competence with respect to that specific cosmetic procedure.

Many non-medicos offer non surgical remedies to common issues that patients face when there is actually none available. The use of striking and captivating pictures on social media of various models further help their cause. This has proven devastating in the past as reported in various reports and news and will continue to be dangerous for the patients in the future as well. Therefore, what can be done to stop it? It can only be achieved by introspecting who is at fault. It is imperative to find a trustworthy, well qualified doctor who is forthcoming about potential problems and honest enough to discuss them with you.

Most people can depend on state medical boards or the medical council to cross verify the qualifications of a doctor. Do ensure that your cosmetic surgeon is fully qualified plastic surgeon.

Cosmetic surgery involves a lot of emotion on the part of the patient, their partners and even family members. The right kind of counselling in the preoperative and post-operative period is as important as the surgery itself. A cosmetic surgeon addresses the exact concern of the patient and can picturise the result in his or her mind. A cosmetic surgeon will openly discuss aesthetic goals, potential risks and complications, and outline realistic expectations, resulting in a greater likelihood of patient satisfaction and success.

The detailed knowledge of anatomy is of utmost importance in such procedures, which are purely cosmetic and have no functional deficit and hence creating one can prove to be disastrous. Every cosmetic procedure is an individual procedure, which varies according to the body structure of the patient. A cosmetic surgeon has the technical ability to execute cosmetic procedures with ability and finesse and blend it in with the patient’s body.

A cosmetic surgeon is updated with the latest advances, procedure or technology available for a particular region. They regularly attend meetings, seminars, medical education programmes, national & international conferences, and update their techniques and equipment to provide patients with the best care possible.

A good cosmetic surgeon knows “when not to operate” and is the best person to counsel the patient unlike other medical practitioners who would operate not knowing the consequences. A cosmetic surgeon puts patient care first and is not afraid to say no when underlying medical concerns, unhealthy motivations or unrealistic expectations are obvious. A certified cosmetic surgeon will only recommend a procedure if you are a good candidate and they believe they have the skills to offer a great result.

Every individual has the right to look young and beautiful but they should exercise this right with great caution and responsibility. After all this understanding, one can imagine the importance of choosing a certified cosmetic surgeon for the cosmetic procedures.

Dr. Nikhil Puri

M.B.B.S., M.S., M.Ch. (Gold Medalist)

Plastic, Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgeon

Apollomedics Superspeciality Hospitals, Lucknow

+91-7571010999 / 7579060999

drnikhilpuri@hotmail.com