Recently, NewBeauty Magazine published an article explaining the variables that exist in surgical training and education amongst physicians who perform plastic surgery procedures. The article included an infograhic entitled “Not All Doctors are the Same.”

The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) responded to the article with an open letter to NewBeauty magazine claiming the publication was misleading to the reader. The president of the ABCS stated in the open letter: “NewBeauty is endangering the public by suggesting they indiscriminately choose a board-certified plastic surgeon, when the truth is, the traditional path to board certification in plastic surgery doesn’t require cosmetic surgery training.”

Following is the American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s response to NewBeauty’s article and the ABCS’s open letter.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons applauds NewBeauty Magazine for explaining the wide variations in the training and education held by physicians who are offering to perform plastic surgery procedures, including cosmetic surgery.

All physicians who identify themselves as plastic surgeons (or so-called “cosmetic surgeons”) do not have the same levels of education and training. Many doctors who are trained and “board-certified” in other specialties are performing plastic surgery procedures, as it is completely legal to do so. Although these doctors are board-certified, their board certification is not in plastic surgery, but in a different specialty (which may or may not include specific training in plastic surgery for a specific part of the body, such as the face). And their certifying “board” may not even be recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the entity that oversees specialty boards in this country.

All members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery – the specialty board in plastic surgery that is overseen by ABMS. Our members are also required to adhere to a Code of Ethics and are permitted to operate only in healthcare facilities that are accredited by a recognized accreditation agency. ASPS Member Surgeons undergo vast, specific training in plastic surgery and have passed rigorous oral and written board exams to prove that their training and education have successfully prepared each member surgeon to practice in plastic surgery. Plastic surgery training (and practice) encompasses aesthetic surgery (which is commonly referred to as “cosmetic surgery”).

Some physicians may state that they are board certified in “cosmetic surgery;” however, such certification is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. While a few non-ABMS “boards” have gained “equivalency” to ABMS in some states, the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is not one of them.

Unfortunately, patients are often not fully knowledgeable about board certification and may experience what we refer to as "white coat confusion.” Different types of “board-certification” can indeed be confusing when making healthcare decisions and selecting a physician.

Patients choosing a surgeon for a plastic surgery procedure, including cosmetic surgery, should always inquire about a physician's specific board certification and also ask whether or not he or she is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 7,000 Member Surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery. 

Contact ASPS

Media Relations
(847) 228-9900
media@plasticsurgery.org