American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

American Society of Plastic Surgeons Reinforces Importance of Physician Training and Credentials to Protect Patients
ASPS President Dr. Steven Williams expresses concern after Los Angeles Times article brings awareness to lack of regulation around cosmetic surgery

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL – The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons, is reiterating its dedication to upholding the highest standards of patient safety and ethical practices after a Los Angeles Times article originally published March 31, "She died after liposuction by a pediatrician. Doctors warn of cosmetic surgery's 'Wild West.'"

Many physicians offer cosmetic procedures outside the scope of their education and training. This can lead to complications and, in some cases, patient mortalities.

"Sad events such as this reinforce the importance of patient education and reinforce our commitment to messaging to the public," said ASPS President Steven Williams, MD. "There is no higher goal than prioritizing the safety of patients."

ASPS commits significant resources to educating the public on the importance of selecting board-certified plastic surgeons. Many members are highly engaged in this effort, using multiple platforms and channels to educate the public.

Cosmetic surgery is real surgery with real risks. Although the risk of complications with any surgery is never zero, patients can greatly reduce their risks by choosing a qualified plastic surgeon for cosmetic procedures.

Plastic surgery as a specialty requires extensive training, experience and expertise to perform safely and effectively. Patients can be confused by many official sounding boards and certifications, but ASPS advises patients to always choose a surgeon who is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Plastic surgery is one of only 24 Member Boards that grant certification through the American Board of Medical Specialties (AMBS). All ASPS Member Surgeons must meet rigorous standards, including:

  • Achieve certification by ABPS
  • Complete at least six years of surgical training following medical school with a minimum of three years of plastic surgery residency training
  • Pass comprehensive oral and written exams
  • Graduate from an accredited medical school
  • Complete continuing medical education, including patient safety, each year
  • Perform surgery in accredited, state-licensed or Medicare-certified surgical facilities

Patient safety, ethical care and excellent outcomes are the Society's top priorities. ASPS Member Surgeons believe plastic surgery should only be provided by surgeons who are well-trained in the procedures they offer and understand how to recognize and appropriately treat any complications. A weekend course or other non-accredited training does not qualify a physician to call themselves a plastic surgeon – especially if the course instructors are not certified by ABPS.

Choosing an ASPS Member Surgeon helps patients select qualified, highly trained plastic surgeons committed to patient safety. ASPS makes it easy for patients to find a board-certified plastic surgeon in their area with the Find a Surgeon tool at

Patients should ask these critical questions of any surgeon before undergoing a cosmetic procedure:

  • Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
  • Were you trained specifically in the field of plastic surgery?
  • How many years of plastic surgery training have you had?
  • Are you a member of ASPS?
  • Is your office-based surgical facility accredited by a nationally or state-recognized accrediting agency or is it state-licensed or Medicare-certified?
  • Do you have hospital privileges to perform this specific procedure, and at which hospital?

Hospital privileges mean that even if a surgeon is performing the procedure in an office-based setting, he or she has also provided proof of education, medical training, legal information, references and documentation of competency to a hospital for that procedure. A committee of the surgeon's peers will approve them to have privileges to admit the patient in an emergency and perform that surgical procedure at the hospital. This is a very good way for patients to double-check that their surgeon has been properly vetted.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 11,000 physician members worldwide, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 92 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.


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