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Plastic surgeons don't want to be confused with cosmetic surgeons

Professionals claim consumers are confused by 'medical marketing'

Photo (c) vchalup - Fotolia
It seems everyone is having some sort of "work done" these days. Baby Boomers may be getting older, but they still want to look good.

So how do you go about selecting a doctor? Plastic surgeons say whoever you select, you should understand their training and qualifications before going under the knife.

A report in the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) says consumers need to understand the difference between "plastic surgeon" and "cosmetic surgeon." Right now, the report says, they don't.

"Our study shows that the public, and the ultimate consumer, is confused by the titles 'plastic surgeon' or 'cosmetic surgeon,'" said senior author Dr. Rod Rohrich.

He says the results clearly slow the need to eliminate "confusing medical marketing" so that there is a transparent system and patients are informed and confident in the outcome.

Survey results

The study included a survey in which consumers were quizzed on their perceptions of surgery to improve one's appearance. According to the survey, a huge majority -- 87% -- of consumers believe surgeons must have special training and credentials to perform these procedures. Actually, the authors say, they don't.

More than half of the people in the survey weren't sure about what kind of training is required to become a "Board-certified" plastic or cosmetic surgeon.

To become Board-certified, plastic surgeons must undergo at least six years of residency training to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons. However, certification by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery requires but a single year.

The report says the American Board of Plastic Surgeons certification is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, while American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons certification is not.

Growing demand

More doctors are performing minimally invasive cosmetic surgery to meet increasing demand.

"In fact, 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," the authors write.

The plastic surgeons say consumers considering surgery to alter their appearance should do plenty of research before hand, asking about the training and credentials of any surgeon they are considering.

The American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons gives similar advice on its website but contends that consumers will find plenty of qualified and gifted doctors among its ranks. It says making the right choice will be something you live with for years.

"A successful procedure will make you feel more like yourself and give you greater confidence for years to come," the group says on its website. "On the other hand, ending up in the hands of an inexperienced surgeon increases your chances of having poor results which leads to additional costs, time, and heartache."

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