The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) offers a certification process for physicians desiring third-party credentials in aesthetic surgery. This study aims to examine the training backgrounds and scope of practice of ABCS-certified physicians.
The ABCS online directory was used to identify diplomates. Additional board certifications were identified using the American Board of Medical Specialties physician database. Scope of training was defined using American Council for Graduate Medical Education or Commission on Dental Accreditation requirements for residency training programs. Scope of practice was determined using ABCS physician profiles and professional websites.
Three hundred forty-two ABCS-certified physicians were included in the study. Two-hundred twelve (60.2 percent) also held American Board of Medical Specialties board certifications. Over half (62.6 percent) of ABCS diplomates advertised surgical operations beyond the scope of their American Council for Graduate Medical Education or Commission on Dental Accreditation training. Specialties with the highest prevalence of practicing beyond scope of training were internal medicine [n = 2 (100 percent)], general surgery [n = 69 (95.8 percent)], obstetrics and gynecology [n = 17 (85 percent)], otolaryngology [n = 65 (59.1 percent)], dermatology [n = 16 (51.6 percent)], and oral and maxillofacial surgery [n = 30 (50 percent)]. The most commonly offered out-of-scope procedures were liposuction (59.6 percent), abdominoplasty (50.0 percent), breast augmentation (49.7 percent), and buttock augmentation (36.5 percent).
ABCS–certified physicians include internists and dermatologists, who market themselves as board-certified cosmetic surgeons, and the majority of ABCS members perform complex aesthetic procedures outside the scope of their primary residency training. Patients who rely on ABCS certification when selecting a cosmetic surgeon may not understand the scope of that physician’s training experience and qualifications.