What is the difference between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon? A plastic surgeon has trained specifically in the field of plastic surgery for a minimum of two years. This is in addition to three to five years of general surgery training. A cosmetic surgeon is not necessarily a plastic surgeon. Some dermatologists, gynecologists, or internists refer to themselves as cosmetic surgeons. The field of cosmetic (or aesthetic) surgery is only one part of plastic surgery, which also includes burn, pediatric, craniofacial, and hand surgery, among others. Plastic surgeons have training in all of these fields, whereas physicians who refer to themselves as cosmetic surgeons may not even be surgeons! In addition to this, not all medical boards are the same.
There are only a select number of boards, such as The American Board of Plastic Surgery, that are recognized by The American Board of Medical Specialties. While many boards exist, only the boards recognized by the ABMS are tightly scrutinized and upheld to the highest standards. So, just like every rectangle is a square, but not every square is a rectangle; every plastic surgeon can be a cosmetic surgeon, but not every cosmetic surgeon is a plastic surgeon.