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Facial Plastic Surgeons vs. Plastic Surgeons

If you’re considering getting plastic surgery for your face, you will discover there are a lot of choices for surgeons. The most common consideration will likely be plastic surgeons. Most people tend to think plastic surgeons because that is who they think of for all things related to cosmetic surgery. That’s understandable. The popularity of breast implants, mommy makeovers, tummy tucks, and liposuction are driving consumers to plastic surgeons.

Furthermore, plastic surgeons also have more political clout in the medical industry. But if you’re considering surgery on your face, I’m sure your real priority is finding someone who is experienced in that particular surgery. Is there a difference between plastic surgeon and facial plastic surgeon?

San Antonio Facial Plastic Surgeons

Facial plastic surgeons are specifically trained in procedures focused exclusively to the face and neck. We don’t perform any procedures below the neck like breast implants, tummy tucks, etc. The vast majority of facial plastic surgeons started their training in otolaryngology—or ear, nose, and throat. Although rarely there are general plastic surgeons who seek a facial plastic surgery fellowship.

I think that gives facial plastic surgeons the benefit of specialized understanding of the complex anatomy and function of our face and neck. Understanding function along with aesthetics is critical to achieving great results. For example, you might want a nose job to make your nose looks better, but if someone is not experienced in your nasal function, a rhinoplasty can potentially cause you significant functional problems.

I’ve seen some patients who were happy with their appearance, but were miserable because now they can’t breathe well. Facial plastic surgeons are trained to improve nasal appearance while maintaining or improving your nasal function. Plastic surgeons generally are trained as general surgeons first (who generally do appendectomies, hernia repairs, etc), then go on to complete a plastic surgery fellowship.

Plastic Surgeons

Other plastic surgeons go through a dedicated plastic surgery program after internship. Plastic surgeons are trained in cosmetic and reconstructive procedures of the entire body, including the face. Plastic surgeons can do nose jobs, breast implants, and tummy tucks. Their training is more broad and comprehensive, with less exclusive focus on the face and neck.

So who should you go to? The answer is not simply choosing one over the other. That would be doing a disservice to both specialties. The most important question should be which SURGEON should you seek if you’re considering facial surgery. As a generalization, facial plastic surgeons are more comfortable with procedures in the face and neck since that is all we do.

However, there are also great plastic surgeons who choose to focus on facial procedures. These plastic surgeons do only a minority of procedures in the body; they can also be excellent choices. I’ve found that most plastic surgeons who do a lot of body work (ie breast implants, tummy tucks) tend not to like or do a lot of facial work. Breast implants are probably the most popular plastic surgery procedures in the United States.

Many plastic surgeons want to capture this market, and can find less time to devote to facial surgeries. Regardless of which specialty you choose, the most important first step is to make sure the surgeon is board certified. After this, you should check out his or her website and reviews. Ultimately, you have to meet the surgeon.

I am a strong believer that you learn a lot from the consultation; the most important goal being whether you can trust him or her. That trust is largely based on your gut feeling. Ideally, you will pick your surgeon based on a recommendation from someone you trust (like family or friends).

There are so many choices when it comes to choosing a surgeon for your face. I just blogged about the two main specialties of facial plastic surgery and plastic surgery. There are also oculoplastic surgeons and oral surgeons who advertise facial plastic surgery. I would caution that oculoplastic surgeons may be excellent around the eyes, but may have less experience in the rest of the face.

Likewise, oral surgeons are dentists that do surgery in the mouth. Unlike breast implants or tummy tucks (which can be hidden to hide imperfections), the face is open to the public. You want to be sure your results are as good as can be.

For more information about facial plastic surgery in San Antonio, schedule a consultation at Dr. Kenneth Yu Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery or contact our Concierge Patient Coordinator at (210) 876-6868.