Choosing a Plastic Surgeon: What is a board-certified cosmetic surgeon?

Plastic Surgeons & Cosmetic Surgeons Are Not the Same

If you are considering plastic surgery, the first and most important step is to find a board-certified plastic surgeon who is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This ensures that the plastic surgeon is highly trained, experienced, and employs the highest safety standards and ethical guidelines.

But choosing a plastic surgeon can be confusing – because patients will also likely find many “cosmetic surgeons” advertising their services as well. It is extremely important to understand that cosmetic surgery is not the same thing as plastic surgery.

Doctors who are certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) do NOT meet the same exacting criteria required for board-certified plastic surgeons by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

In this article the experts at AMAE Plastic Surgery explain why a “board-certified cosmetic surgeon” isn’t the same as a “board-certified plastic surgeon”, and what that means when choosing who will perform your plastic surgery.

Training of Plastic Surgeons vs. Cosmetic Surgeons

A recent study was published in the online journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, which is the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). The researchers reviewed online information assessed the amount of medical residency training history for 342 American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) physicians.

Shockingly, that research revealed that nearly ten percent of ABCS members were not even trained in any surgical discipline. In fact, according to that study, 62.6% of the ABCS cosmetic surgeons advertised performing surgical operations beyond the scope of their actual residency training.

Many of these ABCS-certified “cosmetic” surgeons were actually: internal medicine doctors, OBGYNs, otolaryngologists, dermatologists, and oral and maxillofacial surgeons.

And the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures performed by cosmetic doctors outside their scope of training were liposuction (59.6%), tummy tuck / abdominoplasty (50.0%), breast augmentation (49.7%), and buttock augmentation (36.5%).

This presents some rather frightening statistics about under-qualified doctors (who do not have surgical training) holding themselves out as certified “cosmetic surgeons”.

Choosing a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

Many patients understandably assume that a board-certified cosmetic surgeon would have the same training as a board-certified plastic surgeon.  One would think that all surgeons must be board-certified in plastic surgery in order to perform cosmetic surgery procedures. But this is NOT the case.

A board-certified plastic surgeon must have at least six years of surgical training and complete an accredited plastic surgery training program. To be board-certified, a plastic surgeon must also perform thousands of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery procedures of different types, and pass demanding written and oral exams, as well as engage in continuing education and assessment throughout the rest of their career.

However, an American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) physician is only required to complete one year of surgical training, perform 300 procedures, and take a single written and oral test during a single weekend. And there is no continuing medical education requirements to be ABCS certified.

Because of these confusing credentials, combined with misleading marketing and false advertising, patients may end up with a “cosmetic surgeon” rather than a board-certified plastic surgeon.

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon | Birmingham, MI

Dr. Ali is board certified in plastic surgery, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons. He has performed more than 7,000 cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries. He has been awarded “Top Doc” by Hour Detroit Magazine multiple years in a row. He is also a “RealSelf” Top Doc, and has a perfect 5 star rating from his patients on Yelp!, Google and Facebook.

In addition to performing thousands of breast enhancements, breast lifts, tummy tucks, liposuction, facelifts, “nose jobs”, arm lifts, “mommy makeovers,” and breast reconstructions, Dr. Ali travels worldwide on humanitarian missions every year. He volunteers his surgical services in underprivileged areas across the globe to give back smiles!

If you do your research, you will likely find that many cosmetic surgeons in the Birmingham, MI area are NOT Board Certified Plastic Surgeons! Only trust your face or body to a board-certified plastic surgeon, like Dr. Ali.

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon | Birmingham, MI: 248.335.7200

Emily A. Long et al. Board Certification in Cosmetic Surgery: An Evaluation of Training Backgrounds and Scope of Practice, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery (2020). DOI: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000007242