With so many surgeons to choose from, and so many boards and societies to which they may belong, we have gathered information about each and tried to give you an idea about what each membership actually means.
One important point to keep in mind is the difference between a board and a society. A board (in this case the American Board of Plastic Surgeons) actually certifies the surgeon. A society (like the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) is an organzation setup to provide continuing education and training (among other things), and in many cases has requirements that go above and beyond those for board certification.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the largest plastic surgery specialty organization in the world, with approximatley 6,500 members. Founded in l93l, the society is composed of board-certified plastic surgeons who perform cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
The mission of the ASPS is to advance quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery. The society is an advocate of patient safety, and encourages its members to operate in surgical facilities that have passed rigorous external review of equipment and staffing. The ASPS also works in concert with the Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation (PSEF), founded in 1948, which supports research and educational programs for plastic surgeons.
The ASPS publishes numerous informational brochures and maintains this web site to provide public education about plastic surgery. This site, launched in 1996, includes news on the latest advances and techniques to details of specific surgical procedures, including how to prepare for surgery, the types of anesthesia used and how long recovery takes. Look for answers to the most frequently asked questions about plastic surgery and statistics, including the average costs of various procedures.
All members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The ABPS is the only one of the 24 boards approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties that certifies physicians in plastic surgery of the face and all areas of the body.
ABPS board-certified physicians must meet the following requirements:
- Graduate from an accredited medical school
- Complete a combination of at least five years of general surgery and plastic surgery residency training
- Pass comprehensive oral and written exams
- Besides certification, membership in ASPS requires a plastic surgeon to regularly attend continuing medical education courses and to adhere to a strict code of ethics.
American Board of Plastic Surgery
The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) was organized in 1937 and received recognition as a subsidiary of the American Board of Surgery (ABS) in 1938. It is one of the 24 specialty boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The purpose of the ABPS is to “promote safe, ethical, efficacious plastic surgery to the public by maintaining high standards for the education, examination and certification of plastic surgeons as specialists and subspecialists.”
The ABPS has 6,499 certified members.
Membership within the ABPS is limited to those surgeons majoring in the field of plastic surgery and who conform to the ABPS Code of Ethics. Surgeons certified by the ABPS have graduated from an accredited medical school and have completed at least five years of additional training as a resident surgeon, including a minimum three-year residency in an accredited general surgery program and a minimum two-year residency in plastic surgery. In order to be certified by the ABPS, doctors must successfully complete comprehensive written and oral exams. Plastic surgeons certified by the ABPS are listed in the Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists.
An interesting fact we ran across in the Jauary, 2003 Annual Newsletter to Diplomants is that in 2002, 23.1% of candidates failed the written examination and 13.5% failed the oral examination.
The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery
Founded in 1985, the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS) is an accredited body of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). The AACS includes the medical disciplines of dermatology, ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, general surgery, and others. The AACS produces two regular publications throughout the year, The American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery and Newsline.
The mission of the AACS is to “maintain a membership of medical and dental professionals who participate in post-graduate medical education opportunities, specifically in cosmetic surgery, so that the public is assured of receiving consistently high-quality medical and dental care.” Candidates for membership in the AACS must first meet certain requirements pertaining to education, training, experience, and so forth.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
Approximately 25% of all American Board of Plastic Surgery certified surgeons are members of ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) was founded in 1967 and calls itself ‘the leading professional organization of plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery who specialize in cosmetic plastic surgery.’ It has 1,900 members in the U.S. and Canada, as well as corresponding members in many other countries. According to the ASAPS, it ‘is at the forefront of innovation in aesthetic plastic surgery around the world.’
The ASAPS’ Mission includes medical education, public education, and patient advocacy:
- ASAPS is an educational organization sponsoring scientific meetings on the latest advances in cosmetic plastic surgery. ASAPS meetings are designed for attendance by qualified plastic surgeons. ASAPS is an accredited sponsor of Continuing Medical Education (CME). Aesthetic Surgery Journal, an official publication of ASAPS, is the most widely read clinical journal of cosmetic plastic surgery in the world.
- ASAPS is a research organization, collecting data on cosmetic plastic surgery, publishing annual statistics on the number of cosmetic procedures performed, and supporting scientific and clinical studies in cosmetic plastic surgery.
- ASAPS is a public information organization, providing accurate and timely information on all aspects of cosmetic plastic surgery through their web site and by working extensively with the news media through their Communications Office in New York City.
- ASAPS is a patient advocacy organization, promoting the highest standards of professional conduct among their members as well as representing the rights of patients to be fully informed about the training and credentials of their doctors.
Requirements for membership in ASAPS:
- Be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or in plastic surgery by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada;*
- Be in at least the third year of active practice following board certification;
- Participate in accredited Continuing Medical Education (CME) to stay current with developments in the field of cosmetic plastic surgery;
- Document the performance of a significant number and variety of cosmetic
surgical cases to demonstrate wide experience;
- Be sponsored by two ASAPS-member plastic surgeons to help ensure that the applicant’s professional reputation meets the high standards required by ASAPS; and
- Adhere to current ethical standards for professional conduct as outlined in the Code of Ethics observed by all ASAPS-member surgeons.
* Plastic surgeons who are not citizens of the United States or Canada who meet the high professional and ethical standards required for ASAPS membership may become ASAPS corresponding members.
American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Founded in 1964, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is a National Medical Specialty Society of the American Medical Association (AMA). With over 2,700 facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons worldwide, the AAFPRS is the largest specialty association. Members of the AAFPRS are board certified surgeons specializing in the surgery of the face, head, and neck. Members must meet certain requirements and conform to the AAFPRS Code of Ethics.
The mission of the AAFPRS is as follow:
- To promote the highest quality facial plastic surgery through education, dissemination of professional information, and the establishment of professional standards.
- To achieve understanding and recognition of the specialty of facial plastic surgery by the medical profession, hospitals, and other medical care entities, legislative and regulatory bodies, and the public at large.
- To define facial plastic surgery as a specialty that requires intensive training and competence, embodies high ethical standards, artistic ideals, commitment to humanitarian service, and a desire to enhance the quality of human life.
- To serve as the public’s information source on facial plastic surgery.
- To assist members in the practice of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, guiding them in the delivery of high quality, cost-effective medicine and surgery.
American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Established in 1986, the mission of the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS) is to improve “the quality of facial plastic surgery available to the public by measuring the qualifications of candidate surgeons against certain rigorous standards.”
For membership in the ABFPRS, candidates must:
- Have completed a residency program approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in one of the two medical specialties containing identifiable training in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery: otolaryngology/head-and-neck surgery or plastic surgery.
- Have earned prior certification by the American Board of Otolaryngology, the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in otolaryngology/head-and-neck surgery or plastic surgery.
- Have been in practice a minimum of two years.
- Have 100 operative reports accepted by a peer-review committee.
- Successfully pass an 8-hour written and oral examination.
- Hold the appropriate licensure and adhere to the ABFPRS Code of Ethics.
American Board of Medical Specialties
Established in 1933, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is an organization comprised of 24 approved medical specialty boards. These 24 Member Boards include the American Boards of Allergy & Immunology, Anesthesiology, Colon & Rectal Surgery, Dermatology, Emergency Medicine, Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Medical Genetics, Neurological Surgery, Nuclear Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Ophthalmology, Orthopedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Pathology, Pediatrics, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Plastic Surgery, Preventive Medicine, Psychiatry & Neurology, Radiology, Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, and Urology.
The purpose of the ABMS is to “provide assurance to the public that those certified by an ABMS Member Board have successfully completed an approved training program and an evaluation process assessing their ability to provide quality patient care in the specialty.”
Each Member Board is responsible for evaluating and approving candidates who voluntarily seek certification. Board certified physicians have completed approved educational training programs, and have undergone an evaluation process assessing their knowledge, skills, and experience.
American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons
The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS) is the oldest organization in America which represents Maxillofacial surgeons “devoted to improving and promoting the highest levels of patient care.” Maxillofacial and Craniofacial surgeons specialize in the reconstruction of bone and soft tissue, and the enhancement of the face.
The intent of the ASMS is to “advance the science and practice of surgery of the facial region and craniofacial skeleton . . . through excellence in education and research, and through advocacy on behalf of patients and practitioners.”
Members of the ASMS hold both the MD and DDS or DMD degrees, or only the MD degree, and must fulfill other membership requirements which include sponsorship or endorsement, a minimum of five years of recognized graduate training in preparation for maxillofacial surgery, and a minimum of one year in the practice of surgery within the same geographical area.
The American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
The American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery was founded in 1969 and has grown to include over 400 national and international members. The mission of the ASOPRS is to “advance training, education, research, and the quality of clinical practice in the fields of aesthetic, plastic, and reconstructive surgery specializing in the face, eyelids, orbits, and lacrimal system.”
The ASOPRS sponsors several annual scientific meetings, as well as specialized fellowship training for postgraduate physicians who have completed an accredited ophthalmology residency. Candidates must meet certain requirements before being granted membership in the ASOPRS.
International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) is the aesthetic plastic surgery chapter of the International Confederation of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (IPRAS). The ISAPS was founded in New York City at the Headquarters of the United Nations in 1970, and has since grown to include nearly 1000 members from 61 countries. Their mission is to “promote scientific and social interchange among aesthetic plastic surgeons worldwide, respecting the unique insights and contributions that each culture brings to the overall field.”
Membership within the ISAPS is by invitation only, and available to duly licensed plastic surgeons and plastic surgeons still in training who are actively engaged in the practice of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery with an interest in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Members must comply by the ISAPS Code of Ethics.