Difference Between a Dermatologist and Plastic Surgeon | VIDA

Which Do You Need – Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon?

Whether you are looking for dermal fillers, Botox ® injections, CoolShaping treatments or any other non-invasive service found at a Medi-Spa, you may be wondering if you should go to a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon. The dermatologist vs. plastic surgeon is a very complex debate for many reasons:

  • Not all treatments offered at a medi-spa are the same.
  • Not all dermatologists are trained in cosmetic procedures.
  • Not all plastic surgeons perform non-invasive treatments.

The bottom line is that you should go to a doctor fully trained and qualified to perform the treatment you want. Your health and safety comes first and not going to the appropriate doctor, even if you are only getting non-invasive treatments, can put you at risk. Let’s help you understand the differences between a plastic surgeon and dermatologist, and how to pick one.

Cosmetic Dermatologist vs Plastic Surgeon

The very first thing you should always do is verify that you are going to be seen by a medical professional. Check that your doctor is board certified in his or her country and that the clinic where treatments are performed is clean and accredited.

The next step to picking the right doctor for you is to understand the differences between a dermatologist and plastic surgeon.

A Cosmetic Dermatologist is a doctor who was professionally trained as a dermatologist and specializes in cosmetic treatments. A cosmetic dermatologist focuses on making your hair and skin look better, improving your overall appearance. They are experts in non-invasive ways to enhance your natural appearance, such as the best topical treatments that will protect your skin from sun and pollution.

Dr Alberto De la Fuente performing Thermage Tijuana
Dr. Alberto De La Fuente (VIDA Dermatologist) performing Thermage Radiofrequency
Dr. Carlos Fuentes (Plastic Surgeon) during a consultation for Botox

A Cosmetic or Plastic Surgeon is a surgeon who specializes in performing surgical aesthetic procedures. Plastic surgeons can perform facelifts, boob jobs, nose jobs, liposuction, and more. A plastic surgeon has the training and knowledge to reshape and reconstruct any part of your body with the purpose of making it more aesthetically pleasing. During their surgical training, plastic surgeons acquire skills that dermatologists don’t, such as:

  • A deep understanding of your facial structure and anatomy. They learn inside and out everything that can affect your appearance: every bone, muscle, and tissue.
  • They also understand the efficiency of non-invasive vs invasive procedures, essentially, cosmetic dermatology vs plastic surgery. Only a plastic surgeon can explain the limits of a non-invasive treatment and offer you a surgical alternative.  

You should also keep in mind that cosmetic dermatology and plastic surgery offer different results, usually in different time frames and at a different cost.

Example of facial rejuvenation with a surgical facelift:

facelift antes facelift despues

Example of facial rejuvenation with laser skin resurfacing:

Full skin resurfacing with dermablate laser
Full skin resurfacing with tightening effect

Is a Cosmetic Dermatologist or a Plastic Surgeon right for me?

Among the most popular non-invasive procedures, we can tell you the following:

Plastic Surgeon or Dermatologist for Botox

Plastic surgeon. With their extensive knowledge of your facial anatomy, visit a plastic surgeon for your botox applications.

Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon for Dermal Fillers

Again, a plastic surgeon.

Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon for Fillers

Plastic surgeon, particularly if you have loose or saggy skin, since non-invasive treatments may simply not work.

Dermatologist of Plastic Surgeon for Fat Removal

  • Plastic surgeon or dermatologist to get rid of stubborn fat. Depends on the amount of extra fat you have, but we recommend a plastic surgeon first. Your doctor will tell you if you need liposuction or a session of CoolShaping will be enough.

Whether you are not 100% sure of what you want to improve or have an extensive list of things you want, it’s best to go to a plastic surgeon first. Upon consulting with your plastic surgeon and talking about what you expect, he or she will be able to tell you if you also need to plan a visit to a cosmetic dermatologist. The best plastic surgeons usually work jointly with cosmetic dermatologists, therefore giving the patient the best experience and results imaginable.


Cosmetic Dermatology AND Plastic Surgery

Choosing a doctor for your cosmetic needs is a personal decision. You should always ask for referrals, read reviews, check their certifications and credentials, etc. As most of our patients have discovered, the best doctors know when they can help you and when to refer you to another specialist, which is why our suggestion is not to think of cosmetic dermatology and plastic surgery as “either/or”. Instead, think of them as a complement to one another.

When you choose to visit VIDA Wellness and Beauty you’ll be happy to learn that we offer cosmetic dermatology and plastic surgery under the same roof. Our entire team of doctors understands that improving your appearance needs a holistic approach.  Call VIDA at (619) 738-2144 and schedule a one-on-one consultation. You can be sure that our experts will help you achieve the best version of yourself!

Dr. Alejandro Quiroz

Dr. Quiroz is our board-certified Chief Plastic Surgeon at VIDA Clinic in Tijuana. He specializes in Facial Rejuvenation, Neck lift, Buttock Augmentation, Breast Augmentation, Body Contouring and more. He is member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, San Diego Plastic Surgery Society, the Mexican Society of Aesthetic & Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and the Mexican Council of Aesthetic & Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, to mention a few.