When you are researching doctors and surgeons for cosmetic procedures, you can come across a multitude of letters representing their qualifications and accreditations. These can seem confusing, even while they might seem impressive at the same time. It’s useful to be able to quickly see what qualifications and accreditations a doctor has and to recognize some of the key qualifications that are required.
You may need surgery to repair physical damage from an injury, reconstructive surgery, or maybe you are unhappy about an aspect of your physical appearance you’d like to change. Plastic surgery can repair or reconstruct and help patients explore their cosmetic path to attain the desired aesthetic results. Some of the most popular plastic surgery procedures are:
There are many aspects to consider when selecting a plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon, ensuring someone is certified and qualified enough to do this surgery is imperative.
Each country has its certification and guidelines. This guide will take you through some of the letters that you are likely to see after a cosmetic surgeon’s name in the USA, UK, EU, and Turkey. You will also learn what you should be looking for when choosing an aesthetic plastic surgeon or doctor.
It might sound obvious but it is essential to find a board-certified plastic surgeon. In the USA the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) regulates medical training. Doctors have different requirements for board certification and are dependant on which board certifies them. Plastic surgeons are certified under the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) members are certified under the ABPS. In order to call themselves a board-certified plastic surgeon, doctors must be registered under one of these boards.
It’s worth noting that a doctor calling themself a cosmetic surgeon may not necessarily have board certification in cosmetic surgery. Any type of doctor from a dermatologist to a gynecologist can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon. However, to call themself a plastic surgeon – they must be board certified by the appropriate board. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) certifies surgeons exclusively in cosmetic surgery.
In the UK, only registered doctors can perform plastic surgery. Registered doctors and surgeons can be found on the General Medical Council online register. All independent hospitals and clinics must be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
There are several certifications, accreditations, or professional memberships that cosmetic surgeons in the UK might have. These include:
● A cosmetic surgery certificate from the Royal College of Surgeons – this involves taking an exam and meeting a national standard – find a list from the RCS here
● The letters FRCS (Plast) after their name indicates they are a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons with a specialism in plastic surgery – they might also have FRCS with NHS Consultant level experience in plastic surgery if they qualified before 1990
● Membership of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) – this involves being FRCS (Plast) qualified, having their cosmetic surgery experience peer-reviewed, and recommendation by two other members
● Membership of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) – members must be on the GMC Specialist Register of Plastic Surgery and hold a Certificate of Completion of Training or CESR in Plastic Surgery in the United Kingdom or an equivalent in the Republic of Ireland
A note: surgeons in the UK often use the title of Mr or Mrs (or Miss/Ms) instead of Dr.
Some professionals in the UK may also have certain qualifications and certifications for non-surgical procedures, such as injectable treatments including Botox and fillers. In England, Health Education England developed qualification requirements for a number of procedures, including hair restoration, Botox, dermal fillers such as Sculptra, laser treatments, IPL, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels and skin rejuvenation.
For example, someone must have a Level 6 qualification in order to administer botulinum toxins (Botox) or dermal fillers, which is a degree-level qualification. This allows them to administer temporary fillers or botulinum toxins to the upper face. A postgraduate-level qualification allows them to administer semi-permanent or permanent fillers, as well as botulinum toxins elsewhere.
The qualifications required for doctors and surgeons in the EU to perform cosmetic surgery will depend on the country. However, there are steps being taken to provide more consistent regulation across the EU. Additionally, you will find that there are some similarities in what is required of plastic surgeons and the qualifications or accreditations that you might find.
Cosmetic surgeons will generally be required to be licensed as a doctor and have specialist qualifications and experience in plastic surgery. They might also be required to be a member of a certain professional organization or regulated board of doctors. Plastic surgeon is a regulated profession, so you should be able to check a specific country’s register of qualified doctors and plastic surgeons. The easiest thing to do is search for the specific country and their medical register or their national plastic surgery board, society, or association.
Some plastic surgeons in the EU may be members of the European Board Organization for Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery (EBOPRAS). EBOPRAS is founded under Dutch law and offers an examination for surgeons. You can check on their website to see if someone is a registered fellow of EBOPRAS. Other memberships that they have might include the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), the European Association of Plastic Surgeons (EURAPS), or the European Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (ESPRAS). These international organizations will often require that members are a member of the national society of plastic surgery in the country where they practice.
Having plastic surgery in Turkey is a popular choice, due to the affordable prices and various other factors, including the good weather. If you are considering having cosmetic surgery in Turkey, there are several things to look for.
Doctors in Turkey must take exams to qualify as a cosmetic surgeon and enter the Cosmetic Surgery Specialist program. After they have completed their specialist residency, they gain the title of Certified Plastic Surgeon. Cosmetic surgeons are required to be a member of the Turkish Society of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery. Hospitals and clinics in Turkey are regulated by the Turkish Ministry of Health, with each establishment required to meet the ministry’s standards and regulations. Doctors need to be members of the Turkish Medical Association.
Traveling overseas for medical treatment or cosmetic surgery is more popular than ever. Wherever you decide to get your plastic surgery, it’s important to check that the surgeon is qualified to practice in their country. Additionally, you might want to see if they are also accredited by an international organization for plastic surgery. This can help to reassure you that their qualifications are recognized outside of the country where they are licensed, as well as within it.
The easiest way to check a plastic surgeon’s qualifications is to search for their country’s medical board and their register of qualified plastic surgeons. You will find that most countries have something like this and that plastic surgeon is a protected or regulated profession, making it illegal to claim to be one if you don’t have the required qualifications and licensing.
When choosing an aesthetic plastic surgeon, check the policy of the clinic or hospital too. They will tell you what they expect of their surgeons and how they vet them to ensure they have the necessary qualifications and experience. Of course, don’t just take their word for it. Be sure to do your own checks too.
When seeking plastic surgery, it goes without saying that patient safety comes first. That means ensuring your doctor is a board certified plastic surgeon within their relative country. It also means checking they are experienced in performing your chosen procedure, and checking past patient reviews is vital.
I hope you found this blog post useful. Check out the blog post on what questions to ask at the plastic surgery office when booking a personal consultation.
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