Aesthetic Medicine and Cosmetic Surgery: What’s the difference between them?
Although Aesthetic Medicine and Cosmetic Surgery have the same objective, which is to beautify or give a more radiant and rejuvenated appearance to the face and the human body, their approaches are radically different.
While Cosmetic Surgery focuses on improving the aesthetic appearance of the patient by applying surgical techniques, often of great complexity and scope, which usually require general anesthesia and when not, a strong sedation or epidural anesthesia with admission of the patient to the operating room, Aesthetic Medicine never makes use of surgery and is limited to treat only superficial tissues approached through fine needles and local anesthesia only.
Aesthetic Medicine is a non-invasive or at most minimally invasive discipline that clearly differs from Cosmetic Surgery because the latter uses surgical or invasive schemes. Both are complementary, in the same way that General Medicine and General Surgery are, and should not be considered as overlapping, but as a collaboration between related specialties. While Cosmetic Surgery must be performed in an operating room, Aesthetic Medicine is performed in the minor procedures room adjacent to the doctor’s office.
Surprisingly, there is still a great deal of confusion among the general public between these two medical disciplines to the point of generating doubts and incomprehension when a prospective patient is told about such things as Non-Surgical BBL (aka Buttock Bioplasty by PMMA), High Strength Lifting Anchoring Fibers, Botox injections, low intensity skin resurfacing, hyaluronic acid injections and so many other minimally invasive procedures that pertain to the ever-growing field of aesthetic medicine.
Many people, especially those who live in the United States and Canada, ask us questions such as: Which surgeon will operate on me? How long will I be put to sleep under anesthesia? In which operating room will I be operated on? And so on and so forth. These people seem to be unaware that in their countries it is common practice for even nurses with minimal spurious training to be licensed to inject dermal fillers. These “licensed nurses” are in a real professional limbo, they are neither fish nor fowl, so to speak. On the other hand, those people are shocked when we tell them that our doctors here are not required to be surgeons for this purpose. We strongly recommend to Google the subject and get better informed to avoid possible misunderstandings.
Again, an Aesthetic Medicine procedure such as any of the above does not require a plastic surgeon to perform it because Aesthetic Medicine is not a surgical specialty. The Aesthetic Medicine specialist certainly comes from the medical field and must have specialized training in the techniques involved, but does not need to have gone through surgery school. It would be like asking a truck driver for a license to fly jets.
Aesthetic Medicine is aimed at patients who are looking for gentler medical techniques, limited to superficial tissues, who want to avoid general anesthesia, immobilization and the repercussions of surgery.
Aesthetic Medicine is primarily a preventive specialty, oriented to young people in the 20 to 45 years old range, who seek precisely to avoid that their aesthetic defects become so evident that the only solution would be surgery. The ideal Aesthetic Medicine patient is the one who takes care of him/herself from a young age, follows a healthy diet and lifestyle and knows the limits of his/her own anatomy.
Just to exemplify the above, the double chin surgical lipoaspiration and sagging flaccid tissue resection, is a procedure that belongs to cosmetic surgery that addresses cases of great facial deterioration; if such a patient had been taken care of since a young age with Aesthetic Medicine procedures such as for example polycaprolactone high strength anchoring tensor fibers, he/she would never have had to resort to a surgical procedure as radical as the one mentioned above.
Aesthetic Medicine introduces the concept of Stacking which, as the name indicates, means to stack on the patient’s tissues in the right order, different types of aesthetic procedures such as biocompatible tissue fillers, high strength lifting tensor fibers, collagen microinjections, low intensity soft peelings and so on. All this is part of the preventive vision that young people today seek and deserve.
Fortunately, many young people today are finally understanding that minimally invasive procedures are trending; they want to have beautifying touches but never have surgery as such in mind. Aesthetic Medicine, because of its preventive nature, makes possible that desire that every person who appreciates taking care of themselves has, which is to avoid the invasive, radical and traumatic treatments.
Finally, it is very important to emphasize that a procedure suitable for one patient may not be appropriate for another. The criteria to be taken into account for the best choice and therefore the best result are above all, an accurate assessment of the case, a good prescription and the pursuit of an outcome that respects the personality of a face or the natural harmony of a figure.