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The difference between Cosmetic Dermatology & Plastic Surgery

*Disclaimer: Results may vary with each patient.

One of the questions that patients sometimes ask is what the difference is between cosmetic dermatology, plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery. In addition to this, patients can be confused as to what the best option is for them, in their own circumstances.

A cosmetic dermatologist is a medical doctor who is highly trained primarily in dermatology and specializes in the treatment of skin conditions via cosmetic procedures that are minimally invasive and do not require surgery, also known as a non-surgical procedure. A cosmetic dermatologist can perform many different types of treatments, such as facial peels, laser skin rejuvenation, dermal fillers such as Juvederm, fat “freezing” procedures such as CoolSculpting and much more.

The goal of a cosmetic dermatologist is to improve the look, feel and even the shape of the skin in the face and in other areas of the body, using minimally invasive techniques. This means that no surgery is involved in the process, which in turn, ensures that patient’s down time is kept to the minimum. This is in direct contrast to an invasive treatment is one where the patient must undergo an operation. Recovery from a surgery can take a long time depending on the procedure carried out. With surgery, additional risks and costs are introduced, so undertaking such a procedure should not be done lightly. More often than not, invasive surgical solutions are non-reversible and are permanent, whereas many (but it should be noted, not all) dermatological solutions, such as Botox for example will fade over time.

In contrast, a plastic surgeon is a qualified doctor certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and typically will primarily be focused on providing reconstructive surgery to a patient. A plastic surgeon can carry out a number of invasive surgical procedures, such as breast reconstruction, rhinoplasty (nose job), or trauma surgery. Other types of surgical procedures a plastic surgeon is qualified to carry out include treatments such as a facelift or liposuction.

It is common for plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons to be thought of as the same thing, but they are technically different. Although a plastic surgeon may offer cosmetic surgery to patients, one should check to see if they are qualified to do so – while in most cases, a cosmetic surgeon will not offer reconstructive solutions to patients and will instead just focus on cosmetic enhancements.

For the patient, it can be difficult to work out which practitioner is the right one for them since, many cosmetic and plastic surgeons on the surface appear to offer similar treatments, and in some cases, will also offer dermatology as a treatment option too. It may seem logical to pick a plastic surgeon to carry out non-invasive dermatology since they are highly trained and qualified individuals, but in some cases, the practitioner will not carry out dermatology work personally themselves and will hand over the treatment to a nurse to carry out under their supervision. It is therefore crucial to ensure that you know who exactly will be performing the work on you.

A better solution for the patient is to pick a practitioner that has specialized in a field of treatment, for example picking a dermatologist to carry out non-invasive skin treatments and improvements or a plastic surgeon to carry out reconstructive work and any invasive cosmetic surgery. In this way, the patient will be treated by a qualified individual who is dedicated to their own branch of treatments and procedures and is highly qualified in those specific areas.

Even though cosmetic dermatology is not surgical and is non-invasive, there still can be risks and adverse reactions to various procedures. As a result, it is important in all cases to discuss all options with your dermatologist in advance.

A board certified cosmetic dermatologist is trained in treating the skin and different skin types. They are knowledgeable about the proper lasers to treat acne, wrinkles, acne scars, facial pigmentation and melasma. Dermatologists study the skin for three years in residency and know how to best treat it.

Dr. Michele Green is a highly qualified, board-certified dermatologist with many years of experience in helping individuals with their cosmetic facial injections and laser treatments. To learn more about which non-surgical cosmetic dermatology option is best suited for you please contact us online at our NYC based office today or call 212-535-3088

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