The general public is
confused by the titles 'plastic surgeon' or 'cosmetic surgeon.
If you're considering surgery to improve your appearance, and don't know what makes a 'plastic surgeon' different from a 'cosmetic surgeon', it could have important implications for choosing an appropriately
qualified physician, suggested a report in the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive SurgeryŽ
, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
‘There is need to eliminate confusing medical marketing in order to have a transparent system, where informed patients are assured a safe and aesthetically acceptable outcome.’
Senior author Rod J. Rohrich of University of Texas
Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, said "The results demonstrate the need
to eliminate confusing medical marketing in order to have a transparent
system, where informed patients are assured a safe and aesthetically
acceptable outcome." Dr. Rohrich is Editor-in-Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Some 'Cosmetic Surgeons' Aren't Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons
The researchers designed an internet survey to assess public
perceptions of aesthetic or cosmetic surgery, or "surgery to improve
one's appearance." A representative sample of 5,135 respondents
completed the survey.
The results showed some misperceptions about the qualifications
needed to perform cosmetic surgery. Incorrectly, 87% of
respondents believed that surgeons must have special credentials and
training to perform these procedures, or to advertise themselves as
More than half of respondents were unsure about the training needed
to become a "Board-certified" plastic or cosmetic surgeon. In fact,
surgeons need at least six years of residency training to be certified
by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), compared to just one
year for certification by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS).
The ABPS certification is recognized by the American Board of Medical
Specialties, while ABCS certification is not.
Most respondents stated their discomfort with specialists other than
plastic surgeons performing surgery to improve their appearance.
Less-educated respondents and those with lower incomes were more likely
to believe that surgeons must be Board-certified in plastic surgery in
order to perform aesthetic/cosmetic surgery.
The demand for cosmetic surgery and minimally invasive procedures
has risen dramatically in recent years, creating a financial motive for
physicians to performed aesthetic surgery. Dr. Rohrich and coauthors
write, "In fact, a growing number of physicians without training in
plastic and reconstructive surgery are performing surgery to improve
one's appearance, often at the expense of patient safety and outcomes."
The survey identifies several factors contributing to confusion
about which doctors are appropriately qualified to perform surgery to
improve one's appearance, including "problematic medical marketing,
recognized and unrecognized boards, and varying categorization of
surgeons." The ASPS has developed a "Do Your Homework"
campaign to educate the public on how to identify providers who can
safety perform aesthetic/cosmetic/plastic surgery procedures.
"With the current system, physicians can capitalize on confusing
jargon to convince patients that they are appropriately qualified to
perform the procedures they advertise their expertise in," Dr. Rohrich
and colleagues write. They outline an action plan to help patients make a
more informed decision about the provider they want to perform their
aesthetic/cosmetic surgery - focusing on "increasing patient education,
eliminating misconceptions, and, ultimately, improving patient safety."