A: Any licensed physician can legally perform cosmetic surgery, even if his or her training is in a non-surgical specialty. Often portrayed as a “turf battle”, the issue of training and credentials in plastic surgery is actually an issue of public safety about which responsible doctors are necessarily concerned. Would you want your plastic surgery performed by someone who has never had any formal surgical training? It can easily happen. That is why it is important for prospective cosmetic surgery patients to check on the credentials of any physician with whom they plan a consultation.
There are many physicians today practicing plastic surgery who have received their formal training in another surgical specialty (ENT, OB-GYNE, Opthatmology, General Surgery) or a nonsurgical specialty like dermatology. These doctors may call themselves plastic surgeons or cosmetic surgeons but they may not be trained in plastic surgery. Many physicians who call themselves “facial plastic surgeons” are trained in otorhinolaryngology, a surgical specialty of the head and neck.
Physicians who call themselves ” cosmetic surgeons” could be trained in any specialty, including a non-surgical specialty, or even be just plain general medical practitioners. Similarly, any doctor can call himself or herself a “plastic surgeon”, regardless of training.
Mere anatomical and physiological familiarity with a general body region does not automatically give a doctor the license to practice plastic surgery in that area. The principles of plastic surgery are special and the conceptual application of these principles requires indoctrination from years of training and experience. Once indoctrinated, the plastic surgeon can apply these concepts in any area of the body if he has had basic training in general surgery and plastic and reconstructive surgery.
During his surgical training , the surgeon must seek training in as many areas of surgical endeavor as possible. Only when equipped with the knowledge of general principles common to all fields of surgery can the surgeon be admitted to specialized training in plastic surgery.
Authentic plastic surgeons have at least five to six years of approved surgical training, including a two to three year residency in plastic surgery.