Reinforcing Public Education Messages is Key to Keeping Plastic Surgery’s Pretenders at Bay
Confusion over which physicians are best qualified to perform various cosmetic procedures is rapidly increasing as more people consider and undergo plastic surgery each year. ASPS has made responding to this ongoing problem a top priority through public education efforts that highlight the unique qualifications of ASPS Member Surgeons, but a recent rise in the spread of misinformation about plastic surgery is making this effort even more challenging.
ASPS Member Surgeons
“Increasingly, consumers are hearing claims that ‘cosmetic surgery’ is not ‘plastic surgery’ – the notion that plastic surgery is exclusively reconstructive is absurd,” says ASPS Public Education Committee Chair Walter Erhardt Jr., MD. “Patients also continue to be confronted with medical board certifications that are easily mistaken for those of the American Board of plastic Surgery.”
Such miscommunications further blur the line between plastic surgeons and any licensed physician who decides to adopt the title of “cosmetic surgeon.” In fact, a recent ASPS survey found that 60 percent of those interested in a plastic surgery procedure would be just as likely to choose a cosmetic surgeon as a plastic surgeon.
“People are confused,” says Dr. Erhardt. “We need to keep it simple for them by promoting the ASPS Member Surgeon brand.”
At the same time, some medical specialists are keeping a greater share of plastic surgery procedures “in house,” further minimizing the need for their patients to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon.
That’s why, more than ever, it’s important that the society’s Plastic Surgery Education Campaign (PSEC) – and members, themselves – help patients differentiate ASPS Member Surgeons from physicians who are not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada), but yet perform plastic surgery procedures.
“The PSEC alone cannot cut through the confusion caused by other plastic surgery providers,” says Dr. Erhardt. “We need to work together to help every patient learn about safe plastic surgery.”
What every patient should know
In their communications with patients, community and professional organizations, and the media, ASPS Member Surgeons have the opportunity to reinforce these simple messages:
Plastic surgery is real surgery. Plastic surgery procedures – whether cosmetic or reconstructive – demand all of the precautions and planning of any other surgery. For a safe procedure and satisfying result, patients need to do their homework and thoroughly discuss preparation, risk and recovery with an ASPS Member Surgeon.
Cosmetic surgery is plastic surgery Despite some efforts to downplay the risks of cosmetic procedures, surgeons who perform them need to be capable of dealing with potential complications. Because many cosmetic procedures were derived from complex reconstructive procedures, ASPS Member Surgeons are uniquely qualified to address every aspect of both surgery and recover.
Only one board certifies plastic surgeons. Because any licensed physician can call himself or herself a cosmetic surgery, the importance of finding a properly trained and certified provider is of paramount importance. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only board approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties to certify physicians in plastic surgery of the face and body. (Note: The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is not among the 23 boards recognized by the ABMS.)
Potential plastic surgery patients can make their homework easy by narrowing their search for a doctor to ASPS Member Surgeons. All ASPS Member Surgeons are certified by the ABPS (or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada), which means they have completed at least five years of surgical training with a minimum of two years specifically in plastic surgery. They have passed comprehensive exams, regularly attend continuing medical education courses and perform surgery exclusively in accredited medical facilities.