American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery - Does This Mean Board Certification?

A Doctor Who is a Board Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Does That Means He is a Certified Plastic Surgeon?

Doctor Answers 5

Board certification

In order to qualify as a board that can award certificates a group (Board of Dermatology, Surgery,Neurosurgery, etc.) must be listed with the American Board of MedicalSpecialities. There are no boards of specific procedures (such as liposuction or hairgrafting, etc.). Certificates of added qualificationare are awarded by some boards to those physicians who have additional fellowship training in subspecialty areas such as Hand Surgery. In order for new boards or certificates of added qualification to be allowed in the system members of ABMS must vote on the matter.The requirements or prerequisites for board examination vary from board to board. They include number of years of training, number & type of procedures performed, etc.. Some require passing a written examination before undertaking an oral examination. Some only require a written examination. Others require passage of a certain amount of time before examinations can be taken. Board Certificates, i.e. board certification,are given after the examinations are passed. Depending on the board recertification exams (usually written) are required every ten years or so.

Although a doctor may perform cosmetic procedures including those in the realm of plastic surgery that doctor is not really a plastic surgeon unless they have completed a plastic surgery training program, most of which are in university hospitals in the US. Even after completing this training the doctor is not certified until they have completed the board certification process. The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery is not an ABMS recognized board and it's members cannot advertise their membership as board certification in California. Its members have training in a variety of specialties and may be board cerfitifed in those specialties such as Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology etc. A board certified plastic surgeon could become a member although I personally do not see an advantage to doing so.

When choosing a surgeon I would not place membership in this group as a prerequisite. For example in choosing a blepharoplasty surgeon there are many qualified Ophthalmologists, Otolaryngologists and Plastic Surgeons regardless of whether or not they are members of this group.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

NO--AACS most definitely does NOT mean board-certified in plastic surgery.

The ONLY true ABMS-accredited board for plastic surgery is the American Board of Plastic Surgery.  "Cosmetic surgeons" are typically not plastic surgeons at all--they are doctors in other specialties (family practice, internal medicine, OB/GYN, etc) who have decided at some point to take some weekend courses in cosmetic procedures and start doing them in their offices.

The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery will allow any doctor to become a member, no matter what their training.  Just pay the fee, and you can call yourself a member.  Their website would have you believe that a cosmetic surgeon is better than a plastic surgeon for cosmetic surgeries, but I can't understand why someone who took some weekend courses would be better than someone who trained for YEARS.

If you look for the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, you'll know you've got a truly board-certified plastic surgeon.

Check my blog for a sad example of why it's important to seek a fully-trained plastic surgeon---the doctor in this video is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, by the way:

Carmen Kavali, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery - Does This Mean Board Certification?

Thank you for the important question. Unfortunately, differentiating the credentials of the variety of physicians who wish to provide "cosmetic surgery" services, can be very confusing to patients. Also unfortunately, there is no strict regulation set up to protect the consumer by state or national medical regulatory organizations. Therefore, patients must take the responsibility to ask the question: what are you board-certified in?
The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only board recognized by the American Board of medical specialties. Confirming that your surgeon is certified by the American Board of plastic surgeon is very important; this will assure you that your surgeon's undergone rigorous training, testing, and continued medical education necessary to become and remain board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Plastic surgeons who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery are then potential candidates to join the American Society of Plastic Surgery and/or the Aesthetic Society of Plastic Surgery. These societies will have lists of their plastic surgeon members; these lists may be helpful when patients are seeking a board-certified plastic surgeon. in the process of selecting a plastic surgery I also encourage patients to ask to SEE lots of examples of their work AND preferably speak/see patients who have had similar procedures done.
Be very careful with your decision-making. You will find, while doing your due diligence, that there are many different “specialties” who will offer their services to you; again, I strongly recommend you concentrate on surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Be very careful with your decision-making. You will find, while doing your due diligence, that there are many different “specialties” who will offer their services to you; again, I strongly recommend you concentrate on surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Again, I cannot overemphasize the importance of careful selection of plastic surgeon when it comes to concerns such as safety, achievement of the desired outcome, and ability to manage complications that may arise (even in the best of hands). Keep in mind that revisionary surgery may be more costly in many ways. I hope this, and the attached link, helps. Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

Board Certification

To answer this question a little history lesson is necessary. In 1933 4 large specialty groups of doctors decided to set standards for post graduate physician education. They met with other specialty groups, hospitals, medical schools, examination boards and formed the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Through the years the number of specialties has grown from the original 4 to 24 member boards.

To become board certified through ABMS in a medical specialty (like Plastic Surgery) a physician needs to attend an accredited residency, complete the residency and then qualify to take the board exams. The exams are very difficult and consist of two parts, a written test and then an oral examination where the physician must submit cases that they themselves have performed. It usually takes 7-10 years of training in Plastic Surgery to become Board Certified. To complete the residency and pass the boards is extremely hard and once certified the doctor must maintain competence and re take the boards every 10 years to prove that continuing education and training is on going. Training is Plastic Surgery includes not only reconstructive surgery but cosmetic surgery. A well trained plastic surgeon can not only make normal breasts more attractive, he/she can rebuild them from scratch after a mastectomy for cancer. This is the Gold Standard in physician education. Most hospital require the physicians on staff at their facility to be board certified in their field of study.

If a physician is board certified in his/her specialty you can be certain that that person is well trained and competent. But, here is where it gets tricky. There are only 24 member boards and Cosmetic Surgery is not one of them. In fact there are THOUSANDS of different boards that are not members of the prestigious ABMS. These are "self designated boards" or in other words, boards that anyone can establish and regulate even you and me. We could start a new board tomorrow, The American Board of Cosmetic Breast Implant Surgery, and it would be totally legal and I could advertise it as such. However, it means nothing, there are no vigorous requirements to become a member of my society, I just need a check for $$ to have you join me as a member. In fact one of the self designated Cosmetic Surgery boards only requires a weekend course to become eligible for membership.

Some states, like California, have passed laws prohibiting physicians from advertising self designated boards, only the recognized ABMS boards can be advertised. But not all of the states. The bottom line is, consumer beware! You need to do research on your chosen physician who performs your cosmetic surgery. Do you want a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who went through 10 years of training, passed vigorous written and oral exams to perform your breast implant surgery or an Emergency Room doctor who is board certified in Cosmetic Surgery and learned to perform breast implant surgery over a weekend. I think the answer is obvious!

David Finkle, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery - Does This Mean Board Certification

Regarding: "American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery - Does This Mean Board Certification?
A Doctor Who is a Board Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Does That Means He is a Certified Plastic Surgeon

You are rightfully confused. You are not the only one. The confusion and dust kicking in the air are intentional.

Like many good things it all began with a good idea - to protect American from untrained or poorly trained physicians by having each recognized medical specialty set and verify a certain level of medical competence AND certify people who met that standard as having been so "certified".

To do so, the major medical specialties of American Medicine (such as Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Neurosurgery and Plastic Surgery among others) got together and formed an umbrella group to which they all belong called - The American Boards of Medical Specialists (ABMS) whose stated purpose was to assure the American public received the best care by instituting and verifying high standards of specialty training, CONTINUED lifetime training and certification with EACH ABMS board in effect scrutinizing each member before certifying him/her as worthy of its certification diploma. (ABMS certified members are also called diplomates of such boards).

Once American hospitals began restricting NON-ABMS board certified MD's from their staffs and restricted the performance of certain procedures only to doctors trained in and certified by those specialty boards, the pressure on other non-specialist has increased. It only got worse as the American public realized the value of ABMS certification.

So what is a doctor who wants to "practice" Plastic Surgery to do who happens to NOT be ABMS certified? Without a board certification credibility, prestige and of course, profits, were in a free fall for these individuals. How about creating their OWN proprietary "boards" outside the ABMS organization?

As a result, we now have MANY privately owned "boards" and "academies" and every physician can claim he is "board certified" because the American public does not understand the bait and switch operation performed on them.

To learn everything you need to know on this topic, read the link below. After reading it, you can decide WHICH Plastic Surgeons, Obstetricians, Neurosurgeons you want to go to.

Dr. Peter Aldea



Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.