While cosmetic and plastic surgeons might sound similar, they can differ quite a bit in terms of their training, qualifications and technical expertise.

It’s important to understand the differences before you consult with a medical professional about cosmetic or reconstructive surgery.

How are cosmetic and plasticsurgeons different?

All too often, people mistake cosmetic surgeons for plastic surgeons when they’re definitely not the same thing.

How long they’ve studied, what they studied and the exams that they took are just a few of the things that differentiate these two types of professionals.

Below we will outline the key differences between cosmetic and plastic surgeons so that you can make an informed decision.

The differences

The title

Almost any medical professional can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon, including dermatologists and dentists. Not everyone can use the title of Plastic Surgeon though. Medical boards are very cautious about who they award that title to.

Qualifications & associations matter

If your surgeon does not have FRACS and ISAPS, ASPS or ASPS, it’s very likely that they’re not a genuine plastic surgeon. These organisations don’t accept non-specialists such as cosmetic surgeons as members. It’s also best to make sure that your chosen surgeon is recognised as a specialist by AHPRA and the Australian Medical Board, which is something you can be sure of if you’re considering plastic surgery at Adelaide clinic, Waverley House.

Hospital operating rights

Cosmetic surgeons are not able to obtain hospital operating rights in public or private facilities. This is mostly due to training insurance edibility and the fact that most hospitals are not willing to take on high levels of risk. Plastic surgeons are the only professionals who are allowed to perform surgeries that attract a Medicare rebate.


Plastic surgeons receive a lot more training than cosmetic surgeons and are some of the most well-respected professionals in Australia. Don’t let advertising fool you into believing that a cosmetic surgeon can do what a plastic surgeon can as most of them focus on entirely different areas of medicine and don’t have nearly enough surgical experience.

Plastic surgeons undergo such rigorous training, examinations and monitoring that many of them only open a private practice in their 40s.

The bottom line

Any reputable plastic surgeon knows how important training, qualifications and surgical memberships are when it comes to being able to perform complicated procedures safely and effectively.

A plastic surgeon only specialises in surgical procedures such as tummy tucks and breast augmentations, which means they are always at the top of their game in terms of the latest surgical techniques and technology.

A qualified plastic surgeon will be able to comfortably guide you through the entire surgical process from start to finish, all the while addressing any questions and concerns that you might have. Major cosmetic surgery is not something that a skin doctor or GP should be doing so it’s in your best interest to thoroughly research your surgeon before you commit to a procedure.

About the author

Sara T. Loving

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