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Cosmetic Surgery and Surgeon

Cosmetic surgery is a subspecialty that uniquely restricts itself to the enhancement of appearance through surgical and medical techniques. It is specifically concerned with maintaining normal appearance, restoring it, or enhancing it toward some aesthetic ideal Cosmetic surgery is a multi-disciplinary and comprehensive approach directed to all areas of the head, neck and body. Cosmetic surgery is practiced by surgeons from a variety of disciplines including board-certified dermatologists, general surgeons, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, ophthalmologists, otolaryngologists, plastic surgeons and physicians from other fields. All of these disciplines have contributed to the vital growth of cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery is primarily learned during a surgeon’s post residency through ongoing continuing education, training, and experience.

Consumers considering cosmetic surgery are almost universally unaware of the difference between “cosmetic” surgery and “plastic” surgery. For this reason, they are easily misled to believe board certification in plastic surgery evidences a physician’s competence to perform cosmetic surgery. It does not. Importantly, with an expanding number of consumers anxious to undergo cosmetic surgery and a highly competitive pool of physicians, it is imperative consumers have access to accurate information. It is equally imperative consumers have the freedom to choose among competitors and that the number of qualified providers is not artificially restricted. Unfortunately, the public almost universally equates cosmetic and plastic surgery as one and the same. Consumers' misapprehension in this regard has them relying on incomplete and false information when choosing a physician to perform their cosmetic procedure.

Unlike cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery deals with the repair, reconstruction or replacement of physical defects of form or function involving the skin, musculoskeletal system, crainomaxillofacial structure, hand extremities, breast and trunk and external genitalia. While board certification may evidence a physician competent in "plastic surgery", it does not evidence competency in "cosmetic surgery" nor does it demonstrate more "cosmetic surgery" education, training or experience than that of a board-certified dermatologist, general surgeon, oral and maxillofacial surgeon, otolaryngologist or ophthalmologist.

Yet many board-certified plastic surgeons seek to equate the terms "plastic" and "cosmetic" in order to represent their certification in plastic surgery as evidence of their competency to perform "cosmetic" procedures. The spreading of this misconception reduces patient choice and jeopardizes patient safety. The misinformation has consumers believing that when searching for a cosmetic surgeon to perform cosmetic surgery, they must look only to the universe of Board Certified Plastic Surgeons and that they cannot find a competent cosmetic surgeon among board-certified dermatologists, general surgeons, ophthalmologists, otolaryngologists or other surgeons.