American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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Physician's Guide to Cosmetic Surgery Overview

This guide covers the differences between cosmetic and reconstructive surgery; the origins of cosmetic surgery; cosmetic surgery and quality of life; is your patient asking the right questions; does your patient have realistic goals; and what should your patient look for in a plastic surgeon.


Appearance is an important aspect of modern life as both women and men want to look as good as they feel. To achieve this end, more than 13 million million cosmetic procedures were performed last year in the United States. The results are often dramatic and permanent, so it is important that the patient knows what to expect and that he or she chooses a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has prepared the following reference to assist primary care physicians and others to help counsel their patients who are considering cosmetic (or reconstructive) surgery.