We got a surprise as we were browsing the forums on gynecomastia.org the other day, and not a good one!
In case you’re not familiar with the site, it’s an informational, community-oriented place for men and boys with enlarged breasts to learn about their condition and share information. Many of our New York man boob patients are members, and we have supported the site and answered questions on it for years.
Here’s the exchange that took us aback. Responding to a guy who asked about the difference between plastic and cosmetic surgeons, we saw these answers (we did not correct grammar):
Cosmetic/Plastic surgery…. Same thing dude….
Its just a marketing thing Cosmetic sounds better than plastic

Let us set the record straight! Please refer to the graphic to help you visualize what we mean.

Who Is a Plastic Surgeon?

When you’re seeking a gynecomastia specialist for your surgery, what’s important is not so much what they call themselves, it’s their background that’s critical. The first thing to know is that your doctor is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). This organization has the strictest possible requirements for membership:

    • A degree from an accredited medical school
    • 6+ years of surgical residency, with at least 3 years devoted to plastic surgery
    • 2+ years of successful plastic surgery practice
    • Passing grades in written and oral exams
    • Peer review and ongoing training; recertification every 10 years

Some ABPS certified plastic surgeons go on to specialize in reconstructive surgery, such as breast reconstruction, cleft palate repair or hand surgery. Some decide to devote their careers to cosmetic surgery, and some do both.

Two Kinds of Cosmetic Surgeons

If you’re considering a “cosmetic surgeon” to perform your male breast reduction, know that they can come by that title in two ways. The best path is to undertake all the requirements of the ABPS, earn certification in plastic surgery, then pursue a career in cosmetic surgery. In other words, decide to focus on aesthetic procedures rather than reconstructive surgery. As an example, you can see our path to specialization in cosmetic surgery and New York man boob surgery here.
The second way is to get a medical degree, decide you want to include cosmetic surgery in your repertoire, and call yourself a cosmetic surgeon. Surprising as it may sound, you don’t even need surgical expertise! That’s right, as our diagram shows, it is not unusual for general surgeons, gynecologists and doctors trained in other fields to decide they want to include aesthetic procedures in their offerings. Cosmetic surgery has many attractive aspects for these folks, including the fact that it can be lucrative and most often does not involve haggling with insurance companies.
Many doctors who travel this route take weekend courses in breast augmentation, liposuction and other topics. They may be quite competent at the procedures they decide to offer, and they may gain a good amount of experience over time. The thing is, without certification from the ABPS, you just don’t know much about what to expect. They may be board certified in their own field, but not in plastic surgery. You may see impressive looking cosmetic surgery credentials on their walls, but they can be from boards that focus on dues, not training.

Gynecomastia Specialists

As a prospective male breast reduction patient, you want to go one step further. Be sure you consider ABPS certified surgeons who perform at least many dozen, if not hundreds, of gynecomastia surgeries annually. This is what it takes to sculpt masculine chest contours without uneven areas, lumps, craters and tethers. To get a sense of what we mean, visit the “Top Gynecomastia Surgeons” page on gynecomastia.org and take a look at the doctors’ backgrounds. These are true gynecomastia specialists. If you don’t live near one of their practices in an urban area like San Francisco, Boston, or New York, man boobs are tricky enough to be worth traveling to work with one of them.


Has it been an eye-opener to learn more about plastic vs. cosmetic surgery? In hindsight, we probably should not have been surprised to find out that prospective patients don’t always understand the meaning behind the terms. Even though gynecomastia.org members tend to be pretty savvy about such things, the terms can be confusing. And to many, it just doesn’t make sense that a doctor can use the title “cosmetic surgeon” without meeting some kind of requirements.
There’s no better opportunity to say “buyer beware” than this!
No matter where you live, we would be pleased to work with you here in New York. We’ll put our man boob background, 30+ years of experience and APBS certification at your disposal! Contact us anytime.

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