A new survey by RealSelf, the world’s largest online community dedicated to educating and sharing information about plastic surgery, has found that more than one in four (26%) women in the U.S. are currently considering a cosmetic procedure, yet nearly three in five (59%) women do not know there is a difference between a cosmetic surgeon and plastic surgeon.
In addition, more than 8 in 10 women (84%) in the U.S. are unaware that medical professionals do not have to be board-certified in plastic surgery to perform surgical cosmetic procedures, such as a facelift, rhinoplasty or breast augmentation.
The report also reveals that a growing number of women are seeking cosmetic treatments for the first time. Twenty-six percent of women are currently considering a cosmetic procedure, and nearly three-quarters of those women (73 percent) have never had one in the past. Interest is higher among young adults, with females ages 18–34 nearly two times more likely than those 35 and older to be considering a cosmetic procedure (37 percent vs. 21 percent).
“Medical aesthetics is a little like the Wild West, and unfortunately many consumers simply don’t realize the lack of regulation,” said RealSelf Chief Medical Editor Dr. Lara Devgan. “This study highlights some of the most common misconceptions and why it’s so important to do your research. As nonsurgical treatments become more accessible and a wave of people seek procedures for the first time, patients must understand that it’s crucial to use RealSelf to fact-check a doctor’s credentials before booking a treatment.”
What’s the difference between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon?
Nearly 60 percent of women do not know there is a difference between a cosmetic surgeon and a plastic surgeon. Plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons do not receive the same level and duration of training after medical school. In order to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, surgeons must have at least six years of residency training, while certification from the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery requires only one year. Furthermore, the American Board of Medical Specialties, which is one of the leading organizations overseeing physician board certification in the United States, recognizes the American Board of Plastic Surgery as an official board but not the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.
Who is allowed to perform surgical cosmetic procedures?
The findings reveal widespread misunderstanding about the qualifications required to perform cosmetic surgery. More than eight in 10 women are unaware that medical professionals do not have to be board certified in plastic surgery to perform surgical cosmetic. More than half of women (55 percent) think medical professionals are required to be board certified and about one-third (29 percent) say they don’t know. To add to the confusion, only about one in five (19 percent) women in the U.S. know that a licensed physician can advertise as a cosmetic surgeon, even if they have no formal training in plastic surgery.
These findings highlight some of the challenges patients face when considering a cosmetic procedure and the importance of choosing the right plastic surgeon for your procedure.
Drs. Quatela, Koenig and Lee are all active members of the RealSelf community and meet requirements confirmed by RealSelf, including proper medical licensing, high patient satisfaction ratings, responsive service to patient questions, before and after photos and commitment to transparency.