Cosmetic surgery

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Editors-In-Chief: Martin I. Newman, M.D., FACS, Cleveland Clinic Florida, [1]; Michel C. Samson, M.D., FRCSC, FACS [2]


Cosmetic surgery, as defined by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, is a subspecialty of medicine and surgery that uniquely restricts itself to the enhancement of appearance through surgical and medical techniques. It is specifically concerned with maintaining normal appearance, restoring it, or enhancing it beyond the average level toward some aesthetic ideal. Cosmetic surgery is a multi-disciplinary and comprehensive approach directed to all areas of the head, neck and body.

Special skill and knowledge are essential and specialists in cosmetic surgery are competent in the anatomy, physiology, pathology and basic sciences. The educational profile of this specialty is unique in that it begins with a fully trained and certified physician. Through continued post-residency education, training and experience, cosmetic surgery is taught and learned across traditional disciplinary boundaries. The subspecialty fully incorporates the participation and knowledge from all contributing disciplines to attain a high level of skill and understanding. Contributing disciplines include dermatology, general surgery, plastic surgery, otolaryngology, maxillofacial surgery, oculoplastic surgery, and others.

The cosmetic surgeon offers specialized expertise in patient education and counseling, procedural skills, and the early recognition and treatment of complications. As a specialty, cosmetic surgeons have enhanced the knowledge and training of fellow physicians and directly benefitted society through educational publications, scientific journals and in the development of safe and innovative techniques.

Competency in cosmetic surgery implies a combination of knowledge, surgical judgment, technical expertise and ethics in order to achieve the goal of providing aesthetic improvement.

The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery

The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery founded in 1985 is a professional medical society whose members are dedicated to patient safety and physician education in cosmetic surgery. Most members of AACS are dermatological surgeons, facial plastic surgeons, head and neck surgeons, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, general surgeons, plastic surgeons or ocular plastic surgeons – all of whom specialize in cosmetic surgery. AACS is the organization that represents cosmetic surgeons in the American Medical Association through its seat in the AMA House of Delegates.


The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is not currently a member board of the (ABMS) - American Board of Medical Specialties.

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