Is there a difference between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon?

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There is a big difference.  It is clear that doctors who advertise themselves as certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) do not meet the criteria that is required for board-certified plastic surgeons.  Ear doctors, dermatologists, family practice, and Emergency room physicians are the most common physicians who call themselves cosmetic surgeons, but do not have the training to do what Board Certified Plastic surgeons do. Unfortunately, misleading marketing and overtly false advertising are fairly widespread.  If you compare the required training, a board-certified plastic surgeon must have at least six years of surgical training, and complete an accredited plastic surgery training program. They must perform thousands of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery procedures of different types, pass rigorous written and oral examinations and commit to continuing education and assessment. In comparison, ABCS-certified physicians complete only one year of surgical training, and one written and oral examination completed during a single weekend, with no continuing medical education requirements.

According to American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), 1.8 million cosmetic surgery procedures were performed last year.  This high demand underscores the need for regulation and education to help patients make informed decisions.  In a study recently published in the ASPS official medical journal, information was reviewed to assess residency training history and advertised scope of practice for 342 ABCS-certified physicians.  The study revealed 62.6% of ABCS Surgeons advertised surgical operations beyond the scope of their residency training

I cannot emphasize strongly enough the critical importance of patients having surgical procedures performed by a plastic surgeon credentialed by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and who is a member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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Dr. Paul Vanek

Trusted plastic surgeon, sculptor, biochemist and researcher

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