Frequently asked questions about cosmetic surgery & the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery

How do I find out if a physician has had malpractice suits or complaints?

To find out if a physician has any malpractice suits or complaints on file, contact the applicable state medical board for more information. For a complete listing of state licensing boards, visit the Federation of State Medical Boards’ “Contact a State Medical Board” page .

How do I register a complaint against a physician?

State medical boards are charged with the responsibility of protecting consumers of health care through proper licensing and regulation of physicians. To file a complaint against a physician, contact the applicable state medical board , as they can provide information on the process of filing a complaint.

If you are filing a complaint against an American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) diplomate, we will notify the doctor of your correspondence and place your complaint in their file. ABCS diplomate files are confidential and can only be released in full with the consent of the diplomate or upon receipt of a subpoena from a court of competent jurisdiction.

How do I find out if my physician has been disciplined by a state medical board?

For more information on a physician’s disciplinary history, please visit the Federation of State Medical Boards DocInfo website , which offers consumers instant access to a nationally consolidated database of state disciplinary data.

Can the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery recommend or refer me to a certified doctor in my geographic location?

The ABCS does not recommend specific physicians. Our sole purpose is to examine and certify physicians in the area of cosmetic surgery. If you are interested in finding a board certified cosmetic surgeon in your geographic location, please use our “ Find a Cosmetic Surgeon Near You ” tool.

Can you tell me information and/or the cost of a procedure?

The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) is an administrative office. The sole purpose of the ABCS is to examine and certify physicians in cosmetic surgery. We do not have access to information on specific procedures. Our website offers a number of general patient resources, including:

Because cosmetic surgery is a vast specialty, specific details about procedure techniques and cost will vary among surgeons. We recommend finding a cosmetic surgeon near you and visiting their website or scheduling a consultation for additional information.

What does it mean for a doctor to be board certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery?

The ABCS is the only organization that certifies physicians exclusively in the dynamic field of cosmetic surgery. The rigorous certification process requires the highest levels of knowledge and experience about time-tested and evolving techniques that provide safe, consistent and satisfying results.

Diplomates of the ABCS demonstrate the highest standards of training, knowledge, and expertise, as determined by a process of peer review and standardized examination and certification, while promoting the safe and ethical practice of the specialty of cosmetic surgery. Because no other board tests an individual exclusively in cosmetic surgery, the ABCS prides itself as being the highest standard of measure for this specialty.

Learn all about the specific training and experience required to become an ABCS surgeon.

What does it mean if a doctor states he/she is board eligible?

“Board eligible” means a doctor has completed the required training to be eligible to take a boards certifying examination but has not completed or successfully passed their examination. Not all certifying boards have a board eligible status. The ABCS does not have a board eligible status.

How do I find out if my doctor is board certified in cosmetic surgery?

To verify board certification in cosmetic surgery by the ABCS, please visit our Find a Cosmetic Surgeon tool. Enter the Name of the doctor you want to verify ABCS certification. Click on SEE FULL PROFILE, then click on CERTIFICATIONS. Verbal verification of ABCS board certification is available by calling 219-836-8585. Certification in areas other than cosmetic surgery may be found by visiting the American Board of Medical Specialties website or the American Board of Physician Specialties .

Does the ABCS certify podiatrists, dentists, oral surgeons or chiropractors?

No, the ABCS only certifies physicians. Some physicians have dual degrees, such as Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons who have both a medical and dental degree. However, all candidates and Diplomates must have a medical or osteopathic license.

How do I know my doctor has a current or valid ABCS certificate?

The ABCS has adopted a system for Recertification. All Diplomates certified in 1998 and thereafter are issued a time-limited certificate which requires periodic renewal every ten years. Those diplomates certified prior to 1998 are encouraged to apply for voluntary recertification.

What is the difference between cosmetic surgeries and plastic surgeries?

It is critical that consumers understand the difference between cosmetic surgeries and plastic and reconstructive surgeries—and the surgeons who perform them. Cosmetic surgery is a unique discipline of medicine focused on enhancing appearance through surgical and medical techniques. Cosmetic surgery can be performed on all areas of the head, neck, and body. Because treated areas function properly but lack aesthetic appeal, cosmetic surgery is elective.

ABCS board certified cosmetic surgeons are dedicated to delivering the art and science of cosmetic surgery with the ultimate standards of safety, medical care, and aesthetic outcomes.

Plastic surgery is defined as a surgical specialty dedicated to reconstruction of facial and body defects due to birth disorders, trauma, burns, and disease. Plastic surgery is intended to correct dysfunctional areas of the body and is reconstructive in nature.

Are all physicians who call themselves cosmetic surgeons certified by the ABCS?

No. Cosmetic surgeon is a generic term and can be used by any physician regardless of training. Only diplomates of the ABCS can use the term board certified cosmetic surgeon where allowed by law, protected by the U.S. Trademark Registration No. 2,009,292.

How are board certified cosmetic surgeons trained?

There are currently no ACGME residency programs in the United States devoted exclusively to cosmetic surgery. Therefore, doctors seeking to learn cosmetic surgery primarily obtain training and experience after completing their residency training. The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, an entity separate and distinct from the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, has fashioned post-graduate cosmetic surgery training in their fellowship programs to equal or exceed ACGME fellowships.

Residency programs in general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, and plastic surgery that contribute to the sub-specialty of cosmetic surgery include training on many, but not all, cosmetic procedures.

Why isn’t the ABCS a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties?

The ABCS has never applied for membership in the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Although the ABCS is one of many independent boards modeled after the ABMS boards, the ABCS has not done so for the reason that there is no residency program recognized by the ACGME in “Cosmetic Surgery,” one of the pre-requisites for applying for ABMS membership.

The last new specialty added to the list of ABMS approved boards was Medical Genetics in 1991, over 25 years ago. The process involving recognition is slow and arduous at best, and as such, should not be given undue significance in determining which boards are better than others, regardless of the specialty involved.

My doctor says the ABCS is a sham board that grants certification in cosmetic surgery to physicians, dentists, and others who attend a weekend course. Is this true?

A brief review of our website will verify your doctor is either totally misinformed regarding the training and certification requirements for board certification by the ABCS in cosmetic surgery or perhaps has an ulterior motive for verbalizing such false and misleading statements. The ABCS would be pleased to compare our education and training requirements to those of any doctor making such false statements.

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