Plastic Surgery Research

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Before undergoing a cosmetic procedure, get as much information about your surgeon as possible. Find out whether your surgeon really is qualified.

Years ago plastic surgery was the domain of celebrities, people with physical deformities and the very rich. These days, however, plastic surgery has become so popular that everyone from teenagers to housewives are going under the knife--making cosmetic surgery a multi- million dollar industry. There are even reality shows and documentaries dedicated to this medical field. In 2003 FX Network launched "Nip/Tuck", a popular television drama following the exploits of two plastic surgeons.

With so many people having cosmetic procedures it's important that potential customers be aware of the rules and regulations that govern this field. For instance, not many people know that it's legal for any licensed medical doctor to perform plastic surgery--regardless of training.

Cosmetic surgery was once hidden and only talked about in hushed tones. While many people proudly showcase their augmented bodies for public consumption, others are unsure about how to choose the right plastic surgeon and how to determine what regulations govern cosmetic surgery.

The following explains the regulations plastic surgeons are under:


Plastic surgeons must graduate from an accredited medical school and undergo at least five years of residency training. The five years usual encompass three years in general surgery and two years in a plastic surgery residency.

Board Certification

In addition to residency requirements, plastic surgeons must be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). For certification, surgeons must practice plastic surgery for two years and pass rigorous written and oral examinations. Members of ABPS must complete 150 hours of additional medical training every three years to maintain clinical and professional competency standards. Board certification is voluntary.

Members of the ABPS are the only cosmetic group recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) at this time. The ABMS was set up as a national agency to regulate, establish standards, and govern the various medical fields and sub-specialty boards. Contact ABMS to find out if your physician is certified.


According to the ABPS, accreditation is awarded to licensed physicians who have conducted their professional activities in accordance with standards set to define quality in professional practice. Accredited physicians are screened for ethical behavior; lack disciplinary actions by hospitals or licensing agencies provide safe areas to conduct their medical practices and regularly submit to peer review and clinical self-assessment.

Ethics and Confidentiality

Cosmetic surgeons are under the same rules of other physicians, lawyers and priests: patients are entitled to complete privacy. As tempting as it may seem, avoid doctors who name big-time celebrities as their clients, or those who appear on entertainment programs to tout their practices. If their big clients can’t count on these doctors to keep medical records confidential, why should you?

Before undergoing a cosmetic procedure, get as much information about your surgeon as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about training and certifications. After that, follow up by contacting the proper medical boards to verify certification and licensure. The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is recognized as the most influential certification board. Don’t scrimp on quality or price. Seek the best surgeon for the best cosmetic outcome.

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