Plastic Surgeon vs. Oculoplastic Surgeon - What You Must Know! Skip to main content

September 09, 2022

By: Samuel Baharestani, MD

What is the difference between an Oculoplastic Surgeon and a Plastic Surgeon?

Woman's face being examined by doctor

We all are more or less familiar with what a plastic surgeon does. This is someone whose specialty is to restore or reconstruct parts of the human body. But what about an oculoplastic surgeon? Let’s just say for starters that this specialist is all about eye surgery.

What is an Oculoplastic Surgeon

An Oculoplastic Surgeon performs what may be called a “hybrid operation” that combines the microsurgery that’s required of ophthalmology with the cosmetic application behind plastic surgery. The oculoplastic surgeon specializes in plastic and reconstructive surgery of eyelids, tear ducts, and the orbit. The cosmetic aspect of oculoplastic surgery focuses on operating and treating eyelids and brows. In short, an oculoplastic surgeon is all about improving the functionality and appearance of the eyes.

Those who plan to pursue a career in oculoplastic surgery—as with plastic surgery—should plan on investing a lot of time to reach this goal. Aside from obtaining the customary bachelor’s degree and attending medical school, many years of classroom residency and hospital residency that focus on both eye surgery and plastic surgery will be required. A board certification test will be also required as proof of skill and competency to perform oculoplastic surgery. Additionally, medical students who plan to practice in the United States must take a two-year ophthalmological fellowship before becoming officially and professionally qualified as an oculoplastic surgeon.

What is a Plastic Surgeon

The more well-known type of doctor who is a plastic surgeon specializes in reconstructive procedures that are related to a variety of conditions that include birth disorders, injuries, or burns. Some of these specialists may gravitate toward becoming cosmetic surgeons, applying their skills to changing a patient’s appearance. However, not all plastic surgeons are also cosmetic surgeons.

The path to becoming a plastic surgeon requires not only skill and the right training, but more time than one would expect. Training to become a plastic surgeon can in some cases take more than 10 years to finish. Upon finishing their studies, these medical students have a choice of completing either a six-year residency program (which combines general surgery with plastic surgery) or a five-year surgery residency followed by a three-year plastic surgery residency. After these residencies, students must take an exam in order to qualify for practicing plastic surgery in their state—followed by a one-to-two-year fellowship in their chosen specialty (e.g., breasts, aesthetics, reconstructive, or burns, among others).

Why You Should Choose an Oculoplastic Surgeon for Eye Surgery?

Plastic and reconstructive surgery can have a significant impact not only on your personal appearance, but also your level of self-esteem. Before having surgery, it is crucial to make a careful selection of who you will trust with your face. It is critically important to choose a highly trained doctor with the skill and experience needed to ensure the highest standards of safety, plus the desired clinical outcomes. Overall, because an oculoplastic surgeon has been trained in ophthalmology and plastic surgery, she or he will generally have the understanding of the delicate nature of the surgery as well as the fine touch needed to achieve your aesthetic goals. The finesse and precision needed to perform safely and effectively on such a delicate area of the body is usually learned more during a fellowship in ophthalmology and Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery and can bring better results.

Find Out More About Eyelid Surgery

To schedule a consultation appointment with any of our Oculoplastic Surgeons, or to learn more about eyelid surgery contact us today.