Are Plastic Surgery & Cosmetic Surgery the Same?

The Difference Between Plastic Surgery & Cosmetic Surgery

Many people use the terms cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery to mean the same thing. And many plastic surgeons like Dr. Ali do focus their practice on cosmetic surgery.  But while cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are closely related specialties, they are technically not the same thing – and the terms cannot be used interchangeably.

In this article, the experts at AMAE Plastic Surgery in Birmingham, MI explain the difference between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery.

Cosmetic Surgery is a “Sub-Set” of Plastic Surgery

Both cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are medical specialties that are aimed at improving a patient’s body, but the training involved is actually different.

Plastic surgery is a surgical specialty dedicated to reconstruction of the face and body to repair defects caused by birth disorders, accidents, trauma, burns, and disease. For example, plastic surgeons repair cleft pallets in children, or reconstruct breasts after a mastectomy due to cancer. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons “plastic and reconstructive surgeons are one in the same.”¹

However, cosmetic surgeons, are trained plastic surgeons who then complete additional training to perform cosmetic surgery as well.

Plastic surgery training is completed by a physician through a post-graduate residency program via one of two routes:

  • Residency training that combines three years of general surgery and three years of plastic surgery or;
  • A five-year residency program in general surgery followed by a three-year plastic surgery residency program.

“Board Certification” for a plastic surgeon is awarded by the American Board of Plastic Surgery after completing their residency and passing both a written and oral exam testing their procedural knowledge.

The residency training required to become a board-certified plastic surgeon may or may not include cosmetic surgery procedures training.  But, in the United States there are currently no residency programs that are devoted exclusively to cosmetic surgery.

So, cosmetic surgeons obtain training and experience in cosmetic surgery after completing their plastic surgery residency. Typically, this is done by completing a post-residency fellowship training program in cosmetic surgery.

See the pie chart below, to see how cosmetic surgery is a “subset” of plastic surgery.
Graphic Provided By: ABCS

Cosmetic Surgery is Focused on Appearance

The surgical procedures and techniques of cosmetic surgery are focused solely on enhancing a patient’s appearance – rather than restoring function or repairing a defect due to accident, injury, illness, or birth defect.

Cosmetic surgery is generally aimed at improving aesthetic appeal, symmetry, and proportion are the key goals. In some cases, this involves reversing the appearance of aging. Cosmetic surgery is “elective” – unlike most plastic surgeries which are medically indicated. Cosmetic surgery can be performed on all areas of the head, neck, and body to improve appearance.

Types of Plastic Surgery Procedures:

  • Breast Reconstruction
  • Burn Repair Surgery
  • Cleft Palate Repair
  • Scar Revision Surgery

Types of Cosmetic Surgery Procedures:

  • Breast Augmentation, Breast Lift, Breast Reduction
  • Facial Surgery: Rhinoplasty, Chin, or Cheek Enhancement
  • Anti-Aging Surgery: Facelift, Eyelid Lift, Neck Lift, Brow Lift
  • Body Contouring: Tummy Tuck, Liposuction, Gynecomastia Treatment

Cosmetic Surgery | Birmingham, MI

Because any licensed physician can ‘legally’ perform cosmetic surgery, regardless of how much cosmetic surgery training or experience they have, it is extremely important to do your research when choosing a cosmetic surgeon. When selecting the most qualified surgeon for a specific cosmetic procedure, compare the doctors’ overall training, board-certification, years of experience, and proven results with regard to that specific cosmetic procedure.

Remember, a board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Ali has completed the training, residency and written and oral testing to ensure they are qualified to reconstruct the face and the body.

Dr. Ali is both a board-certified plastic surgeon, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons. He has performed more than 7,000 cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries.

Cosmetic Surgery | Birmingham, MI: 248-335-7200




Morrison, M.Sc., Colin, A Survey of Cosmetic Surgery Training in Plastic Surgery Programs in the United States, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, pp.1570-1578, 2008.

Turning Back the Clock at 65: Facelifts for Senior Patients

Bloomfield Hills, MI – Shakespeare once wrote, “With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” While fine lines and crows’ feet may be evidence of a long and joyous life, not everyone is so convinced that face creases have to come with age.

For years, the facelift procedure has offered respite from those wishing to reverse the clock on their well-worn facades. A nip here and a tuck there and the person can look twenty years younger, or more.

Now, a recent trend has seen those ages 65 or older choosing this time-honored plastic surgery technique. But many wonder:

Is a facelift safe for senior patients, or is there such a thing as “too old” for plastic surgery?

Plastic Surgeon, M. Azhar Ali, who was awarded Top Doc 2016 by Hour-Detroit Magazine said, “When it comes to age, the number is not as important as the overall health of the patient when considering plastic surgery. A patient is never too old for surgery as long as they are healthy enough.”

Dr. Ali, who serves patients in Bloomfield Hills, Clarkston, and other areas throughout Detroit, has noticed a significant upsurge in senior patients seeking plastic surgery of all types, but facelifts in particular. And the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported that the number of patients 65 or older opting for facelifts, and accompanying procedures like eyelid surgery, has more than doubled in the past 20 years. Much of that increase has been within the past five years.

Dr. Ali sees a clear reason for the increase in senior patients seeking out facelifts and other life-changing procedures.

“People are living longer, and we enjoy a better quality of life as we get older compared to previous generations. It’s understandable that older patients would want to look as young as they feel so they can get the most out of life,” Dr. Ali said.

There are a few considerations for patients age 65 or older that may not be necessary for younger patients considering facial cosmetic surgery.

Guidelines for Facelift Patients 65 Year or Older

Getting a Doctor’s Clearance: Facelifts and other elective surgeries need to be cleared by the patient’s primary healthcare provider before surgery can be scheduled. The plastic surgeon will also need to know about any medications the patient may be taking at the time of surgery.

Avoiding Complications: Complications during and after plastic surgery are rare, for younger and older patients alike. Still, all surgery comes with some element of risk. Therefore, senior patients should be prepared for such risk, as they may not be able to tolerate complications as well as their younger counterparts. The plastic surgeon will discuss any and all complications prior to surgery so that contingency plans can be made, and all concerns alleviated.

The fact is, a facelift is as safe at 65 as it is at 45, and in conjunction with eyelid surgery or other procedures, the patient can indeed begin to feel like an all new and much younger person.

For senior patients interested in learning more about facelifts and even liquid facelifts, call (248) 335-7200 or

email Detroit Plastic Surgeon Dr. Ali for a consultation.

About Dr. Ali: With thousands of plastic surgery procedures to his credit and a patient satisfaction rating of 99%, Dr. M. Azhar Ali has become one of the most prominent Plastic Surgeons in the Detroit, Michigan area.

© 2017 Millionairium and Dr. Ali. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Dr. Ali are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.