It can be overwhelming to find the right plastic surgeon offering cosmetic procedures in the Washington DC metro area. It’s crucial to understand that offering cosmetic procedures and having the experience and expertise to ensure your safety, comfort, and satisfaction are often not the same thing.

What’s The Difference Between a Cosmetic Surgeon and a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon?

Anybody with a medical degree can offer cosmetic surgery options. However, only someone who has met the rigorous standards of the American Board of Plastic Surgery can call themselves a board-certified plastic surgeon.

Although the terms “plastic surgeon” and “cosmetic surgeon” are often used interchangeably, it’s important to understand the differences between the two.  While both may offer aesthetic services, there is a significant difference in their qualifications and what you can expect in terms of safety and results.

A board-certified plastic surgeon:

  • Must pass an extensive written exam followed by an in-person oral examination given by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
  • Have a total of 10 to 12 years of postgraduate preparation.
  • Must perform a three to six-year residency followed by two to three years of training.
  • Must receive certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the only legitimate plastic surgery board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

A double board-certified facial plastic surgeon:

  • Must pass an extensive written exam followed by an in-person oral examination given by the American Academy of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS)
  • Must pass another extensive written exam followed by an in-person oral examination given by the American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery (AAFPRS).
  • Complete a total of 14 years of training, with six years of training specifically in the head and neck:
    • 4 years undergraduate degree
    • 4 years medical school
    • 5 years Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery residency
    • 1-year fellowship in Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
  • Must receive a primary board certification from the American Academy of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) or from the American Board of Plastic Surgery
  • Must receive a second board certification from the American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery (AAFPRS).

A cosmetic surgeon:

  • Completes minimal training, sometimes through weekend courses
  • Often focuses on another field of medicine, such as family medicine, dermatology or ophthalmology.
  • Is not required to complete a rigorous examination in order to be called a “cosmetic surgeon”.
  • Is not required to undergo any specialized training.

Placing your trust in a cosmetic surgeon instead of a board-certified plastic surgeon can have devastating consequences. Depending on a cosmetic surgeon’s level of expertise, there is no way to predict whether you will end up with an adequate tummy tuck or breast augmentation, or if you will be left scarred, deformed and unhappier than before.

The most critical aspect of deciding what surgeon to trust is doing your homework. Always exercise caution and ask for credentials. Credentials could include diplomas or certifications showing the completion of professional memberships, residency programs, and medical school. All of this information should be easily found online or in the surgeon’s office.

Why Choose Dr. Michael Chiaramonte?

Dr. Michael Chiaramonte is a board-certified plastic surgeon with more than two decades of proven experience performing body contouring, facial plastic surgery, and breast surgery. He is the chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in Southern Maryland Hospital Center and staffs Johns Hopkins, Suburban Hospital and Southern Maryland Hospital Center.

Dr. Chiaramonte knows that the best results stem from patient-focused discussions and customized care. During your initial consultation with Dr. Chiaramonte, he will spend time to fully understand your unique situation and goals. He will offer the solutions he believes will best match your needs. If you are looking for a plastic surgeon who you can trust to safely provide the beautiful body contouring and breast augmentation results you desire, contact Bella Cosmetic Surgery today online or at 301-567-6767 to schedule a consultation with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Chiaramonte.

Why Choose Dr. Costeloe?

Having spent the entirety of her career focusing on the face, head, and neck, Dr. Anya Costeloe is uniquely qualified and passionate about performing cosmetic and reconstructive surgery as well as non-surgical procedures in these areas.

Dr. Anya Costeloe graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a double major in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Spanish Language and Literature. She went on to obtain her medical degree at the Western University of Health Sciences in California and graduated at the top of her class.

Dr. Costeloe completed five years of specialized surgical training in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Michigan State University. She subsequently elected to do further sub-specialty training in Facial Plastic surgery and was selected to complete a highly competitive fellowship in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in San Francisco, CA. With a commitment to delivering results that are both natural and significant, Dr. Costeloe combines her surgical expertise with a personalized approach, ensuring each patient’s unique needs are met. To learn how Dr. Costeloe can help you achieve your personal goals, please contact Bella Cosmetic Surgery by calling 301-567-6767 or emailing

Contact Us Today!

If you would like to schedule a consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeons at our Maryland office, please complete the form on this page or call 301-567-6767 today. Bella Cosmetic Surgery welcomes patients from the metro Washington DC area, Maryland, and Virginia as well as out of state and international patients and offers telehealth consultations.

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