Who Is A Real Plastic Surgeon? Not All Cosmetic Surgeons Are Plastic Surgeons

Written By
Megan Apa
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January 5, 2015

Although there are many cosmetic surgery websites who claim to perform cosmetic surgery procedures, not all of them belong to Plastic Surgeons.  Truth is, almost anyone with an MD can perform surgery and there is little any laws or governments can do to stop them, regardless of what if any surgical training they have.

A recent study into this subject, published in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal (PRS 2015, 135(1):92e-8e) reviewed the situation in the United States.  They found 7500 websites related to cosmetic surgery.  2396 of the doctors were board certified Plastic Surgeons.

Here is the summary:
  • 2396 Plastic Surgeons
  • 284 Ear, Nose, Throat Surgeons
  • 106 General Surgeons
  • 104 Oral Surgeons
  • 70 Opthalmologists
  • 74 Dermatologists
  • 16 Internal Medicine Doctors
  • 13 Obstetricians
  • 6 ER doctors
  • 3 Pediatricians
  • 2 Urologists
  • 2 Anesthesiologists
  • 1 Phlebotomist
Cosmetic Surgeons Canada

As these stats show, a significant proportion of doctors performing cosmetic surgery are not plastic surgeons.  Although the rules and regulations differ in each state and province, none (that I am aware of) require that the 'cosmetic surgeon' clearly disclose their real board certification and qualifications.  It is really up to the patient to do their homework and determine who is and who is not a Plastic Surgeon.

Do not get fooled by the many 'certifications', 'academies', and 'associations'.  They are out there for profit, where all one needs to do is to pay the membership dues, there is no requirement to prove any skill or knowledge.

The following are the ONLY qualifications that require that a surgeon undergo rigorous training, be reviewed by their peers and pass a comprehensive examination:

  • In Canada: The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada - Plastic Surgery
  • In United States: The American Board of Plastic  Surgery