The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is reaffirming its commitment to top-notch patient safety and ethical standards following concerns raised by a recent Los Angeles Times article titled “She died after liposuction by a pediatrician. Doctors warn of cosmetic surgery’s ‘Wild West.'” The article highlights the risks associated with physicians performing cosmetic procedures beyond their expertise, which can result in complications and, tragically, patient deaths.

“Sad events such as this reinforce the importance of patient education and reinforce our commitment to messaging to the public,” says ASPS President Steven Williams, MD. “There is no higher goal than prioritizing the safety of patients.”

ASPS commits significant resources to educating the public on the importance of selecting board-certified plastic surgeons. Many members are highly engaged in this effort, using multiple platforms and channels to educate the public.

Cosmetic surgery is real surgery with real risks, according to the ASPS. Although the risk of complications with any surgery is never zero, patients can greatly reduce their risks by choosing a qualified plastic surgeon for cosmetic procedures, the association adds.

Plastic surgery requires highly trained and certified surgeons for safe and effective procedures. ASPS advises choosing a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), ensuring these rigorous standards are met:

  • Achieve certification by ABPS.
  • Complete at least six years of surgical training following medical school with a minimum of three years of plastic surgery residency training.
  • Pass comprehensive oral and written exams.
  • Graduate from an accredited medical school
  • Complete continuing medical education, including patient safety, each year.
  • Perform surgery in accredited, state-licensed or Medicare-certified surgical facilities.

ASPS prioritizes patient safety, ethical care, and optimal results, according to the association. ASPS Member Surgeons advocate for well-trained surgeons who comprehend procedures and manage complications effectively. Non-accredited training, like weekend courses, doesn’t qualify physicians as plastic surgeons, particularly if instructors lack ABPS certification.

Choosing an ASPS Member Surgeon helps patients select qualified, highly trained plastic surgeons committed to patient safety. ASPS makes it easy for patients to find a board-certified plastic surgeon in their area with the Find a Surgeon tool at

Before a cosmetic procedure, ASPS advises patients to ask these key questions to their surgeon:

  • “Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?”
  • “Were you trained specifically in the field of plastic surgery?”
  • “How many years of plastic surgery training have you had?”
  • “Are you a member of ASPS?”
  • “Is your office-based surgical facility accredited by a nationally or state-recognized accrediting agency or is it state-licensed or Medicare-certified?”
  • “Do you have hospital privileges to perform this specific procedure, and at which hospital?”

Hospital privileges mean that even if a surgeon is performing the procedure in an office-based setting, he or she has also provided proof of education, medical training, legal information, references and documentation of competency to a hospital for that procedure. A committee of the surgeon’s peers will approve them to have privileges to admit the patient in an emergency and perform that surgical procedure at the hospital. This is a very good way for patients to double-check that their surgeon has been properly vetted.