American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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American Board of Cosmetic Surgery denied right to advertise as "board certified" in California

Today, the Medical Board of California (MBC) took a major step to protect patients in the state when it unanimously voted against allowing members of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) to advertise as "board certified" cosmetic surgeons. ASPS is proud to have worked in advance of this vote to educate the MBC and show that ABCS certifications are not backed by a level of training that puts them on par with American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) member boards.

"This is, frankly, a tremendous relief. California has a large number of cosmetic surgery patients and the most ABCS members of any state, which means it holds the greatest potential for those patients to be misled by advertisements that a doctor is a 'board certified cosmetic surgeon'," says ASPS President Alan Matarasso, MD, FACS. "Today's ruling means those patients are less likely to choose a particular provider because they were exposed to a confusing ad. That's going to make patients safer. Our specialty owes a huge debt of gratitude to all the plastic surgeons who invested their time and talents to help protect our patients."

Today's ruling closes the book on a two-decades-long story. In 1996, California law was changed so that the state's physicians could only advertise ABMS certifications, unless a non-ABMS board was specifically reviewed and deemed equivalent to an ABMS member board by the MBC. ABCS has applied for equivalency under this process multiple times, and the MBC has repeatedly found that ABCS falls short of the state's standard that requires their training programs to be equivalent in scope, content, and duration to training accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

While ABCS has previously had the option to re-apply, that is no longer the case. In 2018, California changed its board certification law and eliminated the MBC's equivalency review process as of Jan. 1, 2019. As a result, ABCS cannot apply again and force the MBC to reconsider today's decision.