ASAPS Looks Back on 35 Years of Cosmetic Surgery

NEW YORK, NY (January 18, 2002) — This year marks the 35th Anniversary of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the leading organization of board-certified plastic surgeons who specialize in cosmetic surgery of the face and body. ASAPS was the first, and remains the only, organization entirely focused on advancing the subspecialty of cosmetic plastic surgery.

"Back in the 1960s, when the major focus of plastic surgery was on reconstructive operations, ASAPS' founders had the courage and foresight to say, 'Cosmetic surgery is valuable to peoples' lives,'" says ASAPS President Malcolm Paul, MD, of Newport Beach, CA. "Without ASAPS, cosmetic surgery would have remained 'in the closet' for many more years."

At the beginning of the 20th Century, aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery was being performed in total secrecy, primarily in Europe. In the United States, New York City became the center of cosmetic surgery development, which occurred mostly "behind closed doors" well into the 1950s. In 1967, ASAPS' founders, Simon Fredricks, MD, and John Lewis, MD, developed their plan for a professional society that would be wholly dedicated to the advancement of cosmetic surgery among qualified, American Board of Plastic Surgery certified doctors. Soon after, the Society was chartered under the name the Society of Aesthetic Surgeons." There were 28 founding members, among them the recognized pioneers of cosmetic surgery in the U.S.

The first Scientific Meeting of the new Society was not until 1969 in Miami and was attended by about 100 members and guests. At this meeting, the name was changed to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The reason for the change was to emphasize that the members of this new cosmetic surgery society were board-certified plastic surgeons. "There was already some concern that this relatively new field, which was largely built upon the foundation laid by reconstructive plastic surgery, might hold attraction for physicians who did not have the same depth of training as legitimate plastic surgeons," says Dr. Paul.

The concept of a separate organization devoted to cosmetic surgery was a new one. It took some time for ASAPS to achieve full recognition within the medical community. However, by 1974, the American Medical Association's Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education had granted accreditation for ASAPS physician education programs in cosmetic surgery. Over the years, ASAPS was successful in establishing a relationship with the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and the American College of Surgeons granted ASAPS a Governor's seat.

The membership of ASAPS grew at a steady pace, but the membership process was, as it remains today, extremely selective. ASAPS membership was attainable only through election of applicants by then-current ASAPS members, and the Society gained the reputation as an elite group of the most well established cosmetic plastic surgeons.

As the educational mission of ASAPS became further defined, and more plastic surgeons gained the necessary experience in cosmetic surgery to qualify for membership, the number of members grew. Today, ASAPS has nearly 1900 members; about one-quarter of all board-certified plastic surgeons have ever qualified for this special recognition. "It has never been ASAPS' goal to be the largest plastic surgery organization, only the most prestigious and the one focused exclusively on the cosmetic aspect of our specialty," says Dr. Paul.

In 2002, ASAPS' influence in the field of cosmetic plastic surgery is unparalleled. The Society publishes the world's most widely read, peer-reviewed clinical cosmetic surgery journal, Aesthetic Surgery Journal. It is responsible for the Cosmetic Surgery Statistics National Databank, providing current information on the number and types of cosmetic procedures performed annually in the U.S.

ASAPS' Annual Meeting draws cosmetic plastic surgeons from around the globe for its acclaimed scientific program, instructional courses and special symposia. (The Aesthetic Meeting 2002, including a pre-meeting International Symposium, will be held April 27-May 3, at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.) ASAPS also co-sponsors a variety of cosmetic surgery educational symposia throughout the year in various locations around the country.

Since 1997, ASAPS has maintained bicoastal administrative offices. Its primary office, handling membership and educational meetings, is in Southern California. The Society's Communications Office, handling public education, media relations and the journal, is located in New York City.

ASAPS maintains a web site, with information on cosmetic surgery for the public, at It provides patient referrals to its member surgeons through the Find-a-Surgeon locator on its web site or its toll-free referral service, 1-888-ASAPS-11 (272-7711).


The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.


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