Study Shows Misunderstanding of Difference Between Plastic Surgeons and Cosmetic Surgeons

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in San DiegoMisinformation seems to be the in thing these days. From websites propagating false news stories to politicians who have no problem telling outright lies, the line that existed with lying seems to have unfortunately been crossed.

The aesthetic world is not immune. In this industry, you may see advertisements for doctors claiming to be “board certified” cosmetic surgeons. But if not an outright lie, this is misinformation of the first order.

The problem was detailed in a story in the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The story discussed a recent study showing that consumers don’t understand the different between the terms “plastic surgeon” and “cosmetic surgeon.” But the difference is huge and can have a real impact on outcomes for unsuspecting patients having cosmetic surgery.

Since Dr. Kearney is a “Board Certified” plastic surgeon and general surgeon with the requisite training and experience required to attain these certifications, he’d like to share this study with you.

Board certified?

Because some unscrupulous doctors have misconstrued the board certification process, the ASPS and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery felt the need to conduct a study. Researchers designed an Internet survey to assess public perceptions of plastic or cosmetic surgery. A total of 5,135 respondents completed the survey.

Over half of the respondents didn’t understand the difference between a “Board-Certified” plastic surgeon or someone who might call themselves a cosmetic surgeon. In truth, surgeons need at least six years of residency training to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). This compares to only one year for certification by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS). But these are not comparable organizations — the American Board of Medical Specialties does not recognize ABCS certification.

One year of surgical experience is hardly enough, but patients see the doctor is “board-certified,” not understanding it is the ABCS board, which is a worthless, and unrecognized, certification. This is a ploy used by ethically challenged doctors to claim experience that they don’t have.

With the growing demand for cosmetic procedures, there is a serious financial motive for physicians to add these surgeries to their practices. The study’s author, Dr. Rod J. Rohrich, editor-in-chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, comments, “A growing number of physicians without training in plastic and reconstructive surgery are performing surgery to improve one’s appearance, often at the expense of patient safety and outcomes.”

Dr. Rohrich explains how they are doing this. “With the current system, physicians can capitalize on confusing jargon to convince patients that they are appropriately qualified to perform the procedures they advertise their expertise in,” he says.

The key for patients is to do their homework, and have cosmetic surgery performed by surgeons who are Board-Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Kearney is double Board-Certified, both in “plastic surgery” from the ASPS and in “general surgery” from the American Board of Surgery.

Don’t believe everything you hear or read. Do your research when checking out procedures and doctors. And when you’re ready, trust the extensive experience and qualifications of Dr. Kearney. Call us at 858-677-9352 for an appointment.


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Dr. Kearney and staff