Unfortunately, these terms might mean a fully certified surgeon who performs cosmetic surgery, or could mean another sort of physician who doesn’t have proper training or Board Certification but practices plastic surgery anyway.
To attain status as a plastic surgeon alone takes a lot of commitment, time, and educational training. To attain status as ‘board certified’ it requires even more of those things and a rigorous examination process as well. Often, to achieve the status of ‘cosmetic surgeon’ a doctor can just start using that term without any true certification or training at all. Therefore, such a doctor would not be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons like a ‘Board Certified Plastic Surgeon’ would be.
However within the field of plastic surgery there are many specialties, including hand surgery, reconstructive surgery, pediatric plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery. So the term cosmetic surgery could possibly mean a specialist within the field of plastic surgery that is an expert in aesthetic procedures.
So that means you should always check credentials of your potential surgeon and verify that they are indeed ‘Board Certified’ by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons.