Choosing a Plastic Surgeon

If you are considering cosmetic surgery to improve the appearance of your face, breasts, or body, your choice of surgeon is one your most significant decisions. While the terms “plastic surgeon” and “cosmetic surgeon” are often used synonymously, there is a significant difference. It is important that patients understand what distinguishes plastic surgeons from cosmetic surgeons so they can choose wisely, ensuring quality care and safe outcomes.

What is a Cosmetic Surgeon?

Any licensed physician who performs cosmetic services can advertise themselves as cosmetic surgeons. However, their residency training may be in Gynecology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, or even in a nonsurgical program such as Medicine or Family Practice. Also, be warned: Not all advertisements of “board certification” are created equal. True board certification by a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties, certifies that your surgeon has undergone formal residency training and has passed rigorous certifying exams. Also, make sure your surgeon is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic SurgeryClick here to verify your surgeon’s plastic surgery credentials.

What Makes a Plastic Surgeon Different?

Physicians qualified to call themselves plastic surgeons have a minimum of 3 years residency training specifically in plastic surgery in addition to formal training in other specialties such as general surgery or ears, nose, and throat surgery (ENT). Plastic surgery residency encompasses all aspects of plastic surgery, including cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Many plastic surgeons choose further training in cosmetic surgery, but cosmetic surgeons are not necessarily plastic surgeons. Only plastic surgeons are eligible to join the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery which is the largest and most esteemed organization of cosmetic plastic surgeons.
It is important to make sure that your surgeon is credentialed to operate in an actual hospital or surgery center, and not just a private operating room. Only surgeons with proper plastic surgery qualifications are granted privileges to operate in the hospital setting. Dr. Steele has credentials at Unity Point St. Luke’s Hospital, Pierce Street Same Day Surgery Center, Mercy Medical Center, Floyd Valley Hospital, and the Dunes Surgical Hospital.