Plastic Surgeon or Cosmetic Surgeon? What’s the Difference?

For Immediate Release

Contact: Erica Van Slyke

Advanced Surgical Concepts


“Board Certified Surgeon in Chattanooga educates patients on the differences between cosmetic surgery & plastic surgery”

Chattanooga, April 7, 2011– James E. White MD, FACS, a surgeon in Chattanooga who is board certified by the American Board of Surgery, actively educates prospective patients on the differences between cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery through complimentary consultations, blogs and website articles. Dr. White wants his patients to be well informed of their surgeon’s credentials before undergoing life changing operations like face lift, breast augmentation and blepharoplasty procedures.

“When considering Cosmetic Surgery, people are almost universally unaware that there is a difference between ‘Cosmetic Surgery’ and ‘Plastic Surgery’. For this reason, they maybe easily misled to believe board certification in Plastic Surgery evidences a physician’s competence to perform Cosmetic Surgery”, says Dr. White.

As defined by the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, cosmetic surgery is “a unique discipline of medicine focused on enhancing appearance through surgical and medical techniques”.The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is not part of the American Board of Medical Specialties. Cosmetic surgery can be performed on all areas of the body, head and neck. Because cosmetic surgery is only intended to improve aesthetic qualities and not actual function, it is considered elective. In contrast, plastic surgery involves the repair, reconstruction or replacement of physical defects of form. Such defects are typically a result of cancer surgery, trauma and disease processes. The main purpose of plastic surgery is to correct and reconstruct dysfunctional areas of the body. Unlike cosmetic surgery, it is not necessarily intended to achieve an aesthetic goal.

Dr. White explains, “While board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery may evidence a physician competent in ‘Plastic Surgery’, it does not necessarily evidence competency in ‘Cosmetic Surgery’ nor does it demonstrate more ‘Cosmetic Surgery’ education, training or experience than that of a board-certified surgical specialist with post residency training in cosmetic procedures.”

In fact, a recent article published in the Plastic surgery journals reported that 51percent of Plastic Surgery residents felt that they did not receive sufficient training in Cosmetic Surgery procedures during their Plastic Surgery residency.

As the cosmetic surgery industry grows and increasingly more surgeons and dentists offer cosmetic procedures to patients, the search for the most qualified surgeon may be more challenging. With this is mind, Dr. White advises the public to choose a cosmetic surgeon or plastic surgeon just as they would choose any other healthcare provider.

Dr. White advises, “Do your research. Start with a standard internet search with the name of the doctor or the procedure that you would like to receive more information on. Do you see negative or positive reviews?”

Once you have scheduled your initial consultation, Dr. White advises patients to ask those in the waiting room or any other patients you may know for feedback. The board certified surgeon adds, ” Make sure that your surgeon has a good reputation, a strong background in the surgical field, and above ALL–that they produce good results. Training is important; but skill, judgment and artistic detail are evidenced by experience.”

Dr. James White, is board certified by American Board of Surgery; he is a full fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery; a full fellow of the prestigious American College of Surgery, as denoted by the FACS after his name; and he is a Diplomat of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery and of the American Board of Phlebology.