What Is the Difference Between a Plastic and an Oculoplastic Surgeon?

Plastic and oculoplastic surgeons are closely related but have some distinctions worth mentioning. Oculoplastic surgery mainly deals with the eyelids and structures around the eye, while standard plastic surgery covers the entire body. Here’s an overview of the main differences between oculoplastic (eyelid) surgery and general plastic surgery.

Plastic and Oculoplastic Surgeon Education

An oculoplastic surgeon must complete training and internship and needs more extensive training than general plastic surgeons. The Oculoplastic surgeon must graduate from medical school and complete nine years of internship and residency in ophthalmic surgery.

Candidates must also complete two years of additional fellowship training. They’ll undergo  scientific research and oral/written examinations. Oculoplastic surgeons must also perform 500 surgeries before they begin specialised training in ophthalmology.

Plastic surgeons need to graduate from medical school and complete several hours of training and internship. A plastic surgeon will begin a residency in general surgery immediately after completing medical school. The training focuses on general treatment for various body parts.

Candidates training to become plastic surgeons will also complete fellowship training in plastic surgery. The training involves treating and operating on all parts of the body. On average, plastic surgeons will complete at least 150 surgeries before specialised training.

Oculoplastic Surgeries and Treatments

Oculoplastic surgery focuses on the eyelids, eye sockets and facial structures around the eye area. It’s a highly specialised surgical procedure combining ophthalmology and plastic surgery. The surgeries are also delicate and involve operating on incredibly fine structures.

The procedure also comes by other names, including oculofacial surgery, ophthalmic plastic surgery and ophthalmic reconstructive surgery. Oculoplastic surgery can be cosmetic or reconstructive or both.

Certified surgeons can treat conditions affecting these structures, including watery eyes, injuries, drooping eyelids, skin cancers and thyroid eye disease. Popular oculoplastic surgeries include blepharoplasty and ptosis repair:

•    Blepharoplasty – refers to a type of eyelid surgery used to treat patients with excess upper eyelid skin that folds over the eyelashes or lower eyelid wrinkling, bags or dark circles.

•    Ptosis Repair – Involves correcting an upper eyelid that droops over the pupil because the eyelid lifting muscle is weak or slipped.

Oculoplastic surgeons can also offer non-surgical procedures for patients with cosmetic and functional issues. Other treatments include skin care to enhance the appearance of facial skin. The surgery combines microsurgical skills and aesthetic and soft-tissue skills.

Microsurgical operations are part of an ophthalmologist’s work. The aesthetic and soft-tissue operations are from general plastic surgery. Oculoplastic surgeons may specialise in specific procedures, such as peri-ocular surgery or eyelid surgery.

Plastic Surgeon Operations and Treatments

Plastic surgery involves restoration, reconstruction or alteration of the skin and musculoskeletal tissues. A plastic surgeon can perform the procedure on all parts and extremities of the body, including the head and face, neck, chest, abdomen and back.

Botox, Juvederm, Xeomin and Volbella are typical plastic surgeries for addressing wrinkles, fine lines, ageing and more. Plastic surgery falls into two primary categories: cosmetic and reconstructive/functional.

•    Cosmetic Surgery – Focuses on enhancing appearance. It is the most commonly sought plastic surgery and suits those looking to reverse ageing or alter appearance.

•    Reconstructive Surgery – Also known as functional surgery, reconstructive surgery focuses on restoring or improving function. It suits people who have an injury or condition requiring reconstruction to regain normal function.

Popular plastic surgeries are further grouped into different categories based on the body part. Popular types include head, face and eyes, mouth and teeth, breast, abdomen, hand and upper limb and skin. Here are examples under each category:

1.    Head/Face Surgeries

Includes facelift, forehead/brow lift, eyelid lift, ear reshaping, hair replacement, nasal surgery and nose reshaping. Chin, cheek and jaw reshaping, lip augmentation, cleft lip/palate and craniosynostosis are also standard head plastic surgeries.

2.    Mouth and Teeth Surgeries

Maxillofacial and oral surgeries are the two famous mouth and teeth plastic surgeries. They involve reconstructing and enhancing the teeth, jaws and mouth.

3.    Breast and Abdomen Surgeries

Breast surgery includes breast augmentation, reconstruction and reduction (for Gynecomastia) and breast lift. Abdomen surgeries include a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) and liposuction.

4.    Hand and Limb Surgeries

Chase hand and limb centre are the standard procedures under this category. They mainly involve cosmetic enhancements but may also suit functional reconstructions.

5.    Skin Plastic Surgeries

You’ll encounter several skin surgeries, including chemical peel, Botox, dermabrasion and injectable collagen fillers. Other examples include glycolic and laser peels, vein removal, scar revision and tattoo removal.

Other Key Differences Between Plastic and Oculoplastic Surgeons

Oculoplastic surgeons begin with fine touch obtained from ophthalmology training. The surgeons focus solely on the eyes and facial regions and are specialists in such operations.

Plastic surgeons begin with large touch, big body and bowel manipulations obtained from general surgery training. A plastic surgeon will cover many body parts, including the head, neck, arms/limbs, chest, abdomen and more.

You’ll encounter fantastic plastic and oculoplastic surgeons, but the latter has a slight edge when it comes to aesthetic facial surgery. Plastic surgeons are big sculptors specialised in chipping away unwanted parts to produce beautiful results.

Oculoplastic surgeons use delicate, small and precise movements to produce the most beautiful outcome. They will learn precision and finesse in ophthalmology and oculoplastic fellowships.

Oculoplastic surgeons suit eyelid and facial plastic surgery where attention to detail is vital for better surgical and aesthetic outcomes. Some plastic surgeons can still achieve a great job performing eyelid surgeries but won’t be nearly as good as oculoplastic surgeons.

Who Should I Visit for Eyelid Surgery: Plastic or Oculoplastic Surgeon?

Oculoplastic surgeons are arguably plastic surgeons, albeit specialised in the eyelid, eye socket and facial structures surrounding the eye area. If you need eyelid surgery, peri-ocular surgery, ptosis repair or general ophthalmologic services, you should visit an oculoplastic surgeon.

General plastic surgeons can handle various procedures to treat different areas. An oculoplastic surgeon can only operate on the eye and facial area, while plastic surgeons work on all body parts. You can visit a plastic surgeon for head, neck, chest, arm and abdomen surgeries.

Since oculoplastic surgery is plastic surgery, experienced plastic surgeons can perform eyelid operations and other facial procedures. Patients should review each surgeon keenly to choose the right professional for their needs.

Oculoplastic surgeons offer better precision and finesse for delicate eye surgeries and ophthalmological procedures.

At the London Ophthalmology and Ophthalmic Plastics, we offer the specialised services of an experienced practising surgeon. Our clinic focuses on eyelid surgery, peri-ocular surgery, eye socket procedures, post-surgery recovery and general ophthalmology.