Plastic surgery can enhance or correct the appearance of certain features on a person’s face or body. It can be performed for reconstructive or cosmetic reasons, depending on the patient’s needs.

Reconstructive plastic surgery addresses physical defects that result from injury, genetics, or disease. On the other hand, cosmetic plastic surgery is performed to make someone look better, and it is usually an elective procedure.

The doctors who perform these surgeries are called plastic surgeons. Plastic surgeons can further be divided into two main categories: general plastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons. There aren’t many differences between them, but understanding those differences can help patients choose the right doctor for their needs.

If you’re thinking about getting plastic surgery, here’s what you need to know about the main differences between plastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons—and how to choose between the two.

About Plastic Surgeons

Plastic surgeons can perform surgery on any part of the body, including the face. Along with their medical license and years of specialized training, plastic surgeons may also be certified through the American Board of Plastic Surgery, or ABPS, and the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery, or AOBS. Board-certified plastic surgeons can perform breast augmentations, tummy tucks, and facelifts, along with other cosmetic or reconstructive procedures.

About Facial Plastic Surgeons

Unlike general plastic surgeons, facial plastic surgeons perform procedures only on the face, head, and neck. They are trained extensively in facial aesthetics, anatomy, and facial balance. Along with their normal credentials, facial plastic surgeons are typically certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, also known as ABFPRS. Rhinoplasties, facelifts, and blepharoplasties are some of the most popular procedures performed by facial plastic surgeons.

Many facial plastic surgeons also offer injectables and other treatments in their practice. Botox, chemical peels, and laser resurfacing are some skin therapies that might be offered in a facial plastic surgeon’s office.

Main Differences

The most obvious difference between plastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons is their area of expertise. Facial plastic surgeons perform only complex facial procedures, while plastic surgeons will work on any area of the body.

Another important difference is training. Plastic surgeons are required to have 5-6 years of residency in general plastic surgery. Facial plastic surgeons must undergo four years of ENT training and an additional 1-2 years in facial plastic surgery fellowship. Because of this, many general plastic surgeons can receive additional training to be double-certified in facial plastic surgery.

ENT surgeons who are certified by the ABMS, or the American Board of Medical Specialties, can also be double-certified in facial plastic surgery. Facial plastic surgeons certified by the ABMS and the ABFPRS may perform surgery anywhere on the head or neck that doesn’t involve the brain or teeth.

Does It Matter Who I Choose?

As long as you choose a board-certified doctor with an excellent track record who helps you feel comfortable before your operation, you should have a good plastic surgery experience. However, a facial plastic surgeon offers more specialized expertise when it comes to facial procedures. For this reason, you might want to consider a facial plastic surgeon for any plastic surgery that will be performed on your head or neck.

Rhinoplasty, one of the most difficult cosmetic surgeries to perform, is an example of a procedure that is best performed by a facial plastic surgeon. The complexity of the nasal structures, along with the nose’s key role in facial balance make rhinoplasty an extremely challenging procedure.

Also, the end result must be functional so that the patient can breathe while still seeing aesthetic improvement. A general plastic surgeon has the knowledge to perform this procedure, but a facial plastic surgeon will have more experience and skill.

Surgeries Performed by Facial Plastic Surgeons

Whether the goal is to improve function or aesthetics, facial plastic surgeons can perform the following procedures:

  • Brow lift
  • Facelift
  • Neck lift
  • Chin reduction/augmentation
  • Blepharoplasty
  • Botox/fillers
  • Lip enhancement
  • Rhinoplasty
  • Scar revision

Note that this is a partial list of surgeries, and it doesn’t take into account any new techniques made possible through medical research and advancement. Again, a general plastic surgeon can perform these services as well. Some people feel more comfortable consulting a facial plastic surgeon, especially considering all the different procedures and techniques involved.

Choosing a Facial Plastic Surgeon

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to choosing a surgeon, you’re not alone. Luckily, Buckingham Center can help. Buckingham Center specializes in facial plastic surgery, so you’re in the right hands whether you’re getting a facelift or a chemical peel.

Renowned facial plastic surgeon Dr. Edward Buckingham can help you find the right treatment for your needs. If you’re finally ready to put your best face forward, don’t hesitate to contact us at to schedule your consultation in Austin, TX today.

Back to Blog

Schedule A Consultation Book Your Opportunity to Learn More

Contact Us
Contact us media
Accessibility: If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact our Accessibility Manager at 512-222-5635.
Contact Us