Secondary Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Public Perception of Cosmetic Surgeons versus Plastic Surgeons: Increasing Transparency to Educate Patients

Shah, Ajul, M.D.; Patel, Anup, M.D., M.B.A.; Smetona, John, M.D.; Rohrich, Rod J., M.D.


The authors of the February 2017 Special Topic article by Shah et al., entitled “Public Perception of Cosmetic Surgeons versus Plastic Surgeons: Increasing Transparency to Educate Patients” ( Plast Reconstr Surg . 2017;139:544e–557e), wish to make the following corrections:

The fourth paragraph of the article’s Discussion was missing the citation to the Web page accessed in early 2016 to gather the presented information; the paragraph would benefit from additional clarification added below as a parenthetical comment. The sentence that begins “The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery allows…” should read as follows: “The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery allows applications from physicians who have completed their residency in dermatology, general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, oral surgery, otolaryngology, and plastic surgery. These physicians will then enter a 1-year program (2 years for dermatologic or ophthalmologic surgeons) to complete their training in cosmetic surgery and take written and oral examinations provided by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. If the examinations are passed, the trainee is recognized as a board-certified cosmetic surgeon. 18 The new reference 18 should then read: “18. American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. Training requirements available at: . Accessed February 15, 2016.”

The Discussion section of the text would benefit from an additional statement. The first paragraph should include a new statement as a clarifying conclusion, and will now read as follows (new text in italics ): “Furthermore, mainstream publications have exposed the cautionary tales of aesthetic surgery patients whose lives ended at the hands of nonplastic surgeons. 11,13–15 The cases cited here were performed by surgeons who were neither board-certified plastic surgeons nor board-certified cosmetic surgeons.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 140(1):218, July 2017.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: February 2017 - Volume 139 - Issue 2 - p 544e-557e
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000003020
Special Topics: Original Articles
Press Release

Background: The American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ “Do Your Homework” campaign strives to educate the public on how to identify providers who can safely perform aesthetic/cosmetic/plastic surgery. Although the campaign continues to heighten awareness, misperceptions remain in determining who these providers are. This study aims to examine whether the general public is confused by the titles “plastic surgeon” or “cosmetic surgeon,” and accordingly, evaluates whether misperceptions need to be remedied to have an informed and safe patient.

Methods: A 19-question survey was created under the guidance of a survey methodologist. Responses were obtained and cross-tabulation analyses were performed with statistical analysis.

Results: Five thousand one hundred thirty-five individuals completed the survey. Eighty-seven percent of patients either believed that surgeons must be appropriately credentialed to legally advertise themselves, or were unsure. The majority of respondents were uncomfortable with obstetrician-gynecologists (92 percent), dermatologists (68 percent), general surgeons (74 percent), and family practice physicians (93 percent) performing surgery to improve their appearance. Persons with lower education and lower income levels were more likely to believe that surgeons must be appropriately credentialed to legally market themselves, and were more likely to assume that to legally perform aesthetic surgery, one must be board certified in plastic surgery.

Conclusion: The authors’ data demonstrate that the combination of problematic medical marketing, recognized and unrecognized boards, and varying categorizations of surgeons has made it increasingly difficult for a patient to interpret the necessary information to decide which physician can safely perform surgery to improve one’s appearance.

New Haven, Conn.; Orlando, Fla.; and Dallas, Texas

From the Section of Plastic Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine; Aesthetic Lane, Orlando Plastic Surgery Institute; and Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute.

Received for publication March 22, 2016; accepted July 6, 2016.

Disclosure:Dr. Rohrich receives instrument royalties from Eriem Surgical, Inc., and book royalties from Taylor and Francis Publishing. No funding was received for this article. All other authors have no commercial associations or disclosures that might pose or create a conflict of interest with the information presented within this article.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the text; simply type the URL address into any Web browser to access this content. Clickable links to the material are provided in the HTML text of this article on the Journal’s website (

Rod J. Rohrich, M.D., Editor-in-Chief, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute, 9101 N. Central Expressway, Suite 600, Dallas, Texas 75231,

Copyright © 2017 by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons