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How does the consumer understand the difference between a Cosmetic Surgeon, a Cosmetic Physician and a Plastic Surgeon?

Dr. Dean Kane Q & A Q. How does the consumer understand the difference between a Cosmetic Surgeon, a Cosmetic Physician and a Plastic Surgeon? A. Great question and oh, so confusing. A Plastic Surgeon is selected for his or her ambition to provide aesthetic and reconstructive care to their patients. These patients may require structural, functional, cosmetic or combinations of improvement and enhancement to return to society with an balanced, harmonious improved outcome. Plastic Surgeons undergo a rigorous residency of 2 to 5 years or more beyond the basics of general medicine and surgery and undergo continuous testing beyond their written and oral Board Certification by the ABMS (American Board of Medical Specialties) when they join the ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons . Those who wish to further specialize in aesthetic procedures and enhancements will be further scrutinized before being admitted to the ASAPS (American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. MOC or Maintenance of Certification Testing includes their Aesthetic sub-specialization. To be fair, the US is going through an upheaval in the past 25 years; felt most recently with significant economic misery amongst all physicians. This has compelled other Medical Societies within the ABMS to add cosmetic training to their residency candidates. These specialties include: ENT/Facial Plastics (limited to the face and neck), Dermatology (limited to non-surgical procedures of the skin) and Ophthalmology (more specifically Oculoplastics limited to the tissues of and surrounding the eyes). These individuals with proper education may add further training in other cosmetic surgical procedures but are not tested beyond their training for proficiency. It is now recognized that these 3 Specialties and Plastic Surgeons form a “Core” of Aesthetic Physicians with a agreed upon knowledge base. During this last quarter decade, the “writing on the wall” in declining healthcare reimbursements, increasing regulation and endless documentation has redirected many other physicians and non-physicians to add cosmetic procedures to their practices due to lost income and dissatisfaction within the medical environment. Many have taken evening, weekend, week-long courses and joined increasing numbers of NON-ABMS groups with names including: Board of…, achieving a Certificate outside their proper sub-specialty (eg., Medicine, Family Practice, Dentistry, Nursing, ER medicine, Radiology, General Surgery, Gynecology and many others). The main difference among these individuals is that they not been tested nor are they regulated or tested to the rigorous standards to maintain their proficiency in this art of medicine as the Plastic Surgeon. This confusion has led to an increasing polarity in this new “unregulated” market of Cosmetic Care. Below you will see the most recent “push-back” by the Utah Plastic Surgeon in maintaining Standards of Care to maintain Patient Safety and understanding.
The Aesthetic Society Congratulates the Utah Plastic Surgery Society for Taking a Stand
On August 31, 2015, an important federal case was decided.  The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the September 5, 2013 dismissal of an antitrust lawsuit filed by two cosmetic surgeons, in Utah.  The defendants were the UPSS, ABPS, ASPS and several of our Utah (Plastic Surgery) colleagues.  At issue was an educational campaign organized by the Utah Plastic Surgery Society.  The most visible feature of the campaign, which included internet statements and a local television interview, was a billboard that depicted a tearful woman saying, “I didn’t know my “Cosmetic Surgeon” wasn’t a Plastic Surgeon.” More information can be found at http://www.surgery.org/ . “Educating the public about the importance of ABPS board certification remains a priority for The Aesthetic Society,” said James C. Grotting, MD, ASAPS President, upon hearing of Monday’s decision.  “The Utah Plastic Surgery Society, along with the ASPS, ABPS and 19 of our colleagues in Utah, are all to be congratulated for boldly encouraging patients to understand the differences between cosmetic surgeons and plastic surgeons.”
When considering Aesthetic and Reconstructive options for you, your family or friends, consider your options carefully and consult with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.
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