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You see a billboard or hear a radio advertisement for a plastic surgery procedure. It is implied that the doctor performing the procedure is a medical doctor trained in plastic surgery, isn’t it. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In fact, the louder the advertising, the more unlikely the doctor has training in plastic surgery.

There is hope on the horizon. Many states have started to adopt truth in advertising legislation for plastic surgery. Last year Arizona, California, North Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas all adopted or submitted a variety of truth in advertising laws. The goal of these laws is to protect patients. This has gotten out of hand in Utah. The number of billboards and amount of TV and radio advertising for plastic surgery in Utah is immense. degree with a license to practice medicine in the state of practice. There should be a distinction among medical doctors, dentists, chiropractic doctors and nurse PHD’s for example.

A patient should have confidence that when a cosmetic surgery doctor is advertised as “board certified”, they are board certified in plastic surgery. There is only one board that certifies plastic surgeons, the American Board of Plastic Surgery. There are several boards (some legitimate, most bogus) that certify doctors as “aesthetic surgeons” or “cosmetic surgeons”. Ongoing and future legislation is directed at clarifying board certification status. Physicians will eventually be required to declare which board they are certified by. In some states, physicians will not be allowed to advertise themselves as board certified if they are certified by a board not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Again, the only such board for plastic surgery is the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

“Dr. Smith is board certified”, can be misleading. “Dr. Smith is board certified in Aerospace Medicine, Radiology, or Oral Surgery” is more accurate. Patients deserve to know the training of the person responsible for their safety.

Patients are ultimately responsible for doing their own homework in finding a plastic surgeon. Hopefully new truth in advertising laws will help make this less confusing. In the meantime, choosing a board certified plastic surgeon can take a lot of guess work out of the process.

Dr. York Yates is a board certified plastic surgeon in Utah. Provides online and in office opinions about plastic and reconstructive surgery.
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