An Internet survey designed to assess the public’s perception of the terms “aesthetic surgeon” or “cosmetic surgeon” indicates the possibility of confusion between the two terms.

“Our study shows that the public, and the ultimate consumer, is confused by the titles ‘plastic surgeon’ or ‘cosmetic surgeon,'” says senior author Rod J. Rohrich, MD, of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, in a media release from Wolters Kluwer Health.

“The results demonstrate the need to eliminate confusing medical marketing in order to have a transparent system, where informed patients are assured a safe and aesthetically acceptable outcome,” adds Rohrich, editor-in-chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), which recently published a study regarding the survey.

The survey to assess public perceptions of aesthetic or cosmetic surgery, or “surgery to improve one’s appearance,” received 5,135 respondents.

According to the results, the survey explains, 87% of the respondents believed that surgeons must have special credentials and training to perform these procedures, or to advertise themselves as aesthetic/cosmetic/plastic surgeons.

More than half of respondents were unsure about the training needed to become a “Board-certified” plastic or cosmetic surgeon. In fact, surgeons need at least 6 years of residency training to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), compared to just one year for certification by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS). The ABPS certification is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, while ABCS certification is not.

Most respondents stated their discomfort with specialists other than plastic surgeons performing surgery to improve their appearance. Less-educated respondents and those with lower incomes were more likely to believe that surgeons must be Board-certified in plastic surgery in order to perform aesthetic/cosmetic surgery, the release notes.

“In fact, a growing number of physicians without training in plastic and reconstructive surgery are performing surgery to improve one’s appearance, often at the expense of patient safety and outcomes,” Rohrich says in the release.

Several factors contributing to this confusion regarding which physicians are appropriately qualified to perform surgery to improve one’s appearance, according to the survey, include “problematic medical marketing, recognized and unrecognized boards, and varying categorization of surgeons.”

“With the current system, physicians can capitalize on confusing jargon to convince patients that they are appropriately qualified to perform the procedures they advertise their expertise in,” Rohrich and colleagues write, per the release.

The ASPS has developed a “Do Your Homework” campaign to educate the public on how to identify providers who can safely perform aesthetic/cosmetic/plastic surgery procedures.

In addition, Rohrich and colleagues have outlined an action plan to help patients make a more informed decision about the provider they want to perform their aesthetic/cosmetic surgery. This plan focuses on “increasing patient education, eliminating misconceptions, and, ultimately, improving patient safety,” per the release.

[Source(s): Wolters Kluwer Health, Science Daily]