Face+Body Blog
  • 26 October 2017
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medical vacation plastic surgeryBefore you go on your medical tourism trip, one of the things that you need to understand is the difference between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery.

Anywhere you go on your medical tourism trip, you will realize that these two are being used interchangeably, even by well-known surgeons. That’s why it can be a bit hard to determine which of these two is the best for your current situation.

The way to do that is to understand the subtle differences between these two general types of surgery. To help you do that, here are six questions that you should ask yourself to know if what you need is cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery.

What do you want to achieve with your medical vacation surgery?

One of the main differences between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery is that these two have different goals and purposes.

breast surgery medical vacationFor plastic surgery, the primary goal is reconstructing facial and body defects caused by disease, trauma, birth disorders, and burns.

For instance, if you had breast cancer and you recently underwent mastectomy or breast removal, getting a breast reconstruction surgery to have a new set of breasts is considered plastic surgery.

On the other hand, a cosmetic surgeon’s main goal is to enhance your appearance.

You don’t necessarily need to have a functional problem to get cosmetic surgery. If you are unhappy with the appearance of your sagging breasts, you can get a breast lift right away if you are an excellent candidate for the procedure.

But take note that plastic surgery can also improve appearance, while cosmetic surgery does not necessarily have any functional benefits. Thus, you can think of cosmetic surgery as a subspecialty of plastic surgery.

What are the benefits that you want to enjoy after your plastic or cosmetic surgery?

There are two kinds of benefits that you can get from medical tourism plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery: physical and emotional.

For plastic surgery, the primary physical benefit is restoring and healing your skin and tissues. If you have any disfigurements caused by traumas, accidents, fire, or congenital illnesses, plastic surgery will remodel those areas and disguise the deformities so that they function well and look as natural as possible.

For cosmetic surgery, the physical benefit is enhancing areas of your body that you are unhappy with. Though you can function well without cosmetic surgery, you would look and feel better when you undergo it.

Both plastic and cosmetic surgery have the same emotional benefits: improved confidence and self-esteem. With these procedures, they no longer feel any limitations when it comes to the clothes they wear. It even makes them feel less shy and awkward when interacting with other people, as they look and feel good about themselves.

What’s the specific surgery procedure you want to get on your medical vacation?

Some procedures can be easily classified as plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery.

As previously mentioned, breast reconstruction surgery is almost always considered as plastic surgery rather than cosmetic surgery, since it is done for breast cancer survivors who have undergone a mastectomy.

Another example of plastic surgery is burn repair surgery, which seeks to improve the function and appearance of burn scars.

Cleft palate surgery is another case of plastic surgery, as cleft palate is a congenital disability that can cause problems in speech development.

cosmetic surgery breast augmentation medical vacation health tourism

Breast augmentation surgery, on the other hand, is mostly a cosmetic procedure because it makes your breasts look bigger. There is almost no functional benefit to bigger breasts, and most women undergo this surgery just to achieve the appearance that they want.

Eyelid surgery is another example of cosmetic surgery, as there is no practical benefit that you can get from double eyelids or monolids. Having double eyelids is a fad popular in Asian countries like South Korea.

But there are also procedures that can be classified as either plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery, depending on what you want to accomplish.

For example, some people get rhinoplasty to improve the shape and size of their nose, so that falls under cosmetic surgery. But if your plastic surgeon performs it to prevent breathing difficulties and chronic sinusitis, rhinoplasty becomes a necessary plastic surgery.

The same goes with breast reduction surgery. Some people get it because smaller breasts look proportional to their body, while others experience serious problems with big breasts, like back and shoulder aches.

Is the cosmetic surgery procedure necessary?

medical tourism cosmetic surgery risksAnother way to know if you need plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery is to ask yourself if the procedure is really necessary.

You can live without undergoing cosmetic surgery. Even if you have a fold of skin over your abdomen, you can go on with your life even without a tummy tuck. It will not look aesthetically appealing, but it will not cost you your life.

On the other hand, plastic surgery may be medically necessary. If your crooked nose causes airway obstructions that interfere with your breathing, a nose job or rhinoplasty becomes an essential procedure to get rid of that obstruction.

If too much loose skin causes rashes, chafing, and skin infections, you may need to undergo an upper body lift or lower body lift plastic surgery not just to improve your appearance but also to avoid skin infections.

What is your budget for your medical tourism trip?

Having ample budget not only for your operation but also for your auxiliary needs is important when planning your medical tourism trip.

But even if plastic surgery is medically necessary, you often need to have more budget if you’re planning to get cosmetic surgery through medical tourism. That’s because plastic surgeries tend to be covered by medical insurance, while cosmetic surgeries aren’t.

Because they are for purely aesthetic purposes, cosmetic surgeries are considered to be elective surgeries rather than emergency ones.

For a cosmetic surgery to be considered as plastic surgery and thus receive insurance coverage, you have to prove that you are in serious discomfort and will not be able to live comfortably without that certain procedure. You should do this with the help of a plastic surgeon who can properly assess your condition.

medical vacation plastic surgery hospital insurance

What kind of surgeon do you want to operate on you when on health tourism trip in Miami?

Keep in mind that plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons receive different trainings.

To become a plastic surgeon, one has to undergo a three-year general surgery residency, plus two to three years of specialized plastic surgery residency.

The whole training process can take six to eight years, but many plastic surgeons still opt to further their training in fellowships so that they can also do microvascular, hand, pediatric, craniofacial, and aesthetic surgeries to make them more marketable and increase their plastic surgeon salary.

To become a cosmetic surgeon, he needs to undergo the usual residency training that all medical doctors undergo, and then go on a post-residency fellowship for cosmetic surgeries.

The difference between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon is that the former undergoes specialized plastic surgery residency, while the latter does not have to do that.


cosmetic surgeon medical vacationAbsolutely any medical doctor – a surgeon, gynecologist, dermatologist – can receive cosmetic surgery training since there is no residency program in the United States that is solely devoted to cosmetic surgery.
Cosmetic surgeons are left to fend on their own and undergo specific trainings for various surgeries like liposuction, Brazilian butt lift, and Botox injections.


The best way to make sure that you will be getting the best results in your medical tourism trip is to look for an experienced, reputable, and board-certified plastic surgeon. With a plastic surgeon, you can rest assured that he is trained in general surgery, so he has the license to operate on people. You should also look at before and after photos of his previous patients to make sure that he is experienced in the surgery that you want to undergo, whether it be a thigh lift or a breast lift.

Take note that the American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only certifying body recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, so you should always look for that one when looking for the right medical tourism plastic surgeon.

You might also want to look for certification from the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, even though it isn’t an officially recognized board certification. However, it signifies that a plastic or cosmetic surgeon has completed a one-year fellowship training in cosmetic surgery and has done a minimum of 300 cosmetic procedures, so it is also considered a good gauge of competence.

free consultationTo make it easier for you to look for a board-certified plastic surgeon, Schedule a Free Consultation with us at Face + Body Cosmetic Surgery. We have two double board-certified plastic surgeons who will be happy to answer your medical tourism plastic surgery concerns.

Top 10 Doctor 2014,2013 Patients Choice Award,2013 Vitals Most Compassionate Doctor,Real Self Top Doctor,American Society of Plastic Surgeons Members,Members of The American Board of Surgery,American Board of Plastic Surgery Members-Board Certified Plastic Surgeons
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