What’s the Difference Between A Plastic Surgeon and A Cosmetic Surgeon?👩🏼‍⚕️👨🏽‍⚕️

Written by Hollywood Surgeon

Last updated 08 January 2024

3 min read

In this article:


  • A cosmetic doctor is a qualified GP (and often surgeon too) that specialises in cosmetic procedures like breast augmentation, Brazilian Butt Life, liposuction etc.
  • A plastic surgeon focuses on reconstructive surgery (correcting abnormal body structures due to congenital defects, trauma, or disease) often adding cosmetic work on top to improve appearance and function.
  • When choosing the right doctor for your cosmetic procedure, you should focus on their past results, testimonials and years of experience.

In recent times, the world of cosmetic treatments has come under the microscope in Australia, sparking debates and resulting in stricter regulations. Particularly, there’s been scrutiny around the titles “cosmetic doctor” and “plastic surgeon.” While these titles may seem interchangeable to the uninitiated, they hold different meanings and implications in the medical field. So, let’s set the record straight and discuss the crucial distinctions between the two.

Cosmetic Surgery Vs Plastic Surgery

  • Cosmetic surgery aims to modify a healthy part of the body solely for aesthetic improvements, not for medical necessity.
  • Plastic surgery seeks to restore the function of a body part affected by trauma, cancer, birth defects, or disease. It may involve some level of cosmetic reconstruction too. 

Cosmetic Surgeon Vs Plastic Surgeon

Brazilian Butt Lifts are a common cosmetic procedure carried out by cosmetic doctors. Source: Cosmos Clinic.

Now we know the difference between the types of surgeries, let’s look at the doctors who can perform them.

  • Cosmetic surgeon: The term “cosmetic surgeon” doesn’t technically exist in Australia. We have cosmetic doctors, many of whom are General Practitioners (GPs) and surgeons, with a focus on cosmetic procedures.
  • Plastic surgeon: A plastic surgeon is a medical specialist trained to perform surgeries that aim to repair, reconstruct, or improve the appearance and function of body part.

Note: The term “surgeon” is a protected title. Cosmetic doctors can perform various treatments and procedures (like liposuction and Brazilian Butt Lifts for example), but it’s not considered “surgery” in the way that a plastic surgeon conducts surgery.

Who Can Perform Cosmetic Procedures in Australia?

According to Australian Health Direct, both plastic surgeons and cosmetic doctors can conduct cosmetic procedures in Australia – from liposuction to breast augmentation and Brazilian butt lifts etc. 

Brazilian Butt Lifts are commonly performed by cosmetic doctors in Australia. Source: Cosmos Clinic

However, as mentioned above, most plastic surgeons don’t focus wholly on aesthetic procedures, but rather on the functional aspects of cosmetic procedures (skin grafts after a trauma, rhinoplasty to fix congenital conditions and so on).

So, Where Does That Leave Cosmetic Doctors?

You might be tempted to think that if you’re after cosmetic improvements, you should go directly to a plastic surgeon.

However, many plastic surgeons don’t focus on procedures like Brazilian Butt Lifts, as this generally falls under the remit of cosmetic doctors who have spent years perfecting their skills. Plus, plastic surgeons tend to cost more and have longer wait times for surgery. 

Not to mention some of the most well-known and trusted names in cosmetic treatments in Australia are cosmetic doctors.

Choosing the Right Cosmetic Doctor

The title alone shouldn’t be your determining factor. Instead, pay attention to:

  • Consistent Results: Some cosmetic doctors have made a name for themselves through their consistently impressive results.
  • Specialisation: If you’re considering a specific procedure, look for practitioners who specialise in that area.
  • Reviews and Testimonials: Online reviews and before-and-after photos can provide a wealth of information about what you can realistically expect.
  • Consultations: Before making a decision, book a consultation to discuss your expectations, and concerns, and to evaluate your comfort level with the practitioner.

The Takeaway 💉

In Australia, as in many places, the titles “cosmetic doctor” and “plastic surgeon” carry different qualifications and implications.

But when it comes to your health and well-being, qualifications are just one part of the equation. Whether you’re considering a cosmetic procedure for functional or aesthetic reasons, what’s paramount is the trust and confidence you place in your chosen practitioner.

So, while it’s crucial to be aware of the qualifications and specialties of your practitioner, it’s just as important to be comfortable with your choice. After all, titles are just the beginning of the story.