Is there any difference between a plastic and cosmetic surgeon?

Finding the right surgeon for cosmetic procedures can be a daunting experience if you don’t know what to look for
First published
Last updated
June 6, 2022
Plastic surgeons can also present themselves as cosmetic surgeons, but cosmetic surgeons are not necessarily allowed to position themselves as plastic surgeons. In this article, I explain the difference between a cosmetic surgeon and a plastic surgeon and why it is an important distinction to make when you are looking into cosmetic surgery.

Cosmetic surgeon Brisbane

Should I find a cosmetic surgeon or a plastic surgeon?

Are you thinking about a cosmetic procedure and feeling a bit overwhelmed because you don’t know who to choose? 

Or perhaps you watched Four Corners on the ABC and it has left you confused about the safety and risks related to cosmetic surgery?


It is confusing, to say the least. A lot of people don’t know the difference. And that is exactly why accurate information about cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery is critical for the patient.

Dr Andrew Hadj - Plastic Surgeon Brisbane | Abdominoplasty Brisbane cost
Dr Andrew Hadj

Plastic surgeon Brisbane & Gold Coast

In this article, I will unpack the difference between cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery. It will help you to make a well-informed decision if you are currently considering a cosmetic procedure. 

Two types of plastic surgery

There are two types of plastic surgery:

  • Reconstructive surgery: treating parts of the body that have been affected (aesthetically and or functionally) by trauma, infection, disease, congenital defects or developmental abnormalities. Reconstructive surgery is usually covered by Medicare.
  • Cosmetic surgery: enhancing or reshaping certain parts of the body. Cosmetic surgery is usually not covered by Medicare unless there is an underlying medical reason.

A lot of people think that plastic surgery only consists of cosmetic surgery. It’s quite common for patients to ignore the ins and outs of reconstructive surgery and if the distinction was not on your radar, that is perfectly normal. The fact that a substantial number of plastic surgeons happily focus on cosmetic work only…doesn’t make it any easier.

The best cosmetic surgery results are those that you don’t see
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Plastic Surgery Queensland
Suite 2.01
Mater Private Clinic
550 Stanley Street
South Brisbane QLD 4101

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Plastic Surgery Queensland
Gold Coast
109 W. Burleigh Road
Burleigh Waters QLD 4220

Is a cosmetic surgeon also a plastic surgeon?

It depends. Some cosmetic surgeons – like myself – are plastic and reconstructive surgeons. But some aren’t. Any doctor, from an oral surgeon, a GP to a dermatologist, can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon but they can’t call themselves plastic surgeons. 

Surgeons have to comply with board certification requirements, depending on the board that certifies them. To be board-certified as a plastic surgeon in Australia (Fellowship by the Australasian College of Surgeons in Plastic Surgery), you have done a minimum of 9 years of medical and surgical training. That is the only recognised qualification in plastic surgery and therefore cosmetic surgery by the Australian Medical Council or AMC.

It’s important to know that the AMC doesn’t recognise cosmetic surgery as part of a different specialty.

In other words, the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery (ACCS), is not recognised by the AMC. So cosmetic surgeons claiming to be board-certified may not be recognised by the AMC. That’s why it is so important to take a moment and ask for clarification before you make a decision about surgical procedures. I know, it’s confusing. But we’re here to help you gain total clarity before you commit to a decision.

What to look out for?

In summary, if you want a cosmetic procedure done, ask your surgeon if they are qualified by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS). If they are not, they simply do not have the minimum qualifications (and training) to perform surgery. 

Why is this important?

You may have seen the videos on how my colleague and I reattached a severed hand. This type of plastic surgery is what we call reconstructive surgery. It’s an extensive part of our training and to do so it takes advanced skills such as microsurgery to perform this type of procedure. It’s important to know that the principles and techniques used for reconstructive surgery can also be used in cosmetic procedures. In other words, in the unlikely event of complications during your surgery, you are in excellent hands to rectify the problem using these principles and techniques. 

Where do you operate?

I consult from my private rooms at Mater Private Clinic and I operate as a plastic surgeon at many private hospitals in Brisbane, Queensland. I can see Gold Coast patients from my private rooms at John Flynn Medical Centre and I operate at

Cosmetic surgery procedures Brisbane

Types of cosmetic surgery I can help with

As a cosmetic plastic surgeon I perform a range of cosmetic procedures:

It’s important to know that I see many women seeking breast reconstructing following mastectomy after a cancer diagnosis. I can honestly say that witnessing the emotional relief following restoration is one of the most satisfying aspects of my career. The experience in those complex procedures flows through to my other work in less complicated situations and always benefits you as a patient.

If you would like to book an appointment, please get in touch.

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About Dr Andrew Hadj, Plastic surgeon Brisbane

Plastic surgery is the ultimate expression of art and science

Is there any difference between a plastic and cosmetic surgeon

Finding the right surgeon for cosmetic procedures can be a daunting experience if you don’t know what to look for.

Dr Andrew Hadj | Hand Surgeon, Skin Cancer and Cosmetic Surgery