Credentials: Evaluating Cosmetic Surgery Referral Sources

NEW YORK, NY (December 14, 2000) — There are many potential sources for cosmetic plastic surgery referrals, but not all are equally credible. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) offers the following tips to help consumers evaluate referral sources:

  • The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS): Toll-free referral service (888-ASAPS-11) and Find-a-Surgeon at Members are American Board of Plastic Surgery-certified surgeons who specialize in cosmetic surgery of the face and body.
  • Other professional medical societies: High standards mean reliable referrals. Organizations of medical professionals do not all share the same high standards. When evaluating a medical organization as a source for cosmetic surgery referrals, be certain that the American Board of Plastic Surgery certifies its members.
  • Friends: Every surgery is unique. Referrals from a friend who has had cosmetic surgery can be useful. But surgery, recovery and results will vary. Every patient presents a unique set of characteristics that require a customized surgical plan.
  • Family doctors: Can be helpful. If a family doctor is well acquainted with the work or results of surgeons in the community, he or she may be a good resource. Be sure to ask the doctor to recommend a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
  • Web sites: Good and bad. There is a wealth of information about cosmetic surgery on the Internet; there is also a great deal of misinformation. In general, trust web sites affiliated with recognized medical societies. Be cautious when dealing with commercial web sites that offer referrals to doctors, sometimes in conjunction with patient financing. Independently check the credentials of any physician referred by any site.
  • Advertisements: Can be misleading. Be wary of advertisements that promise painless or easy surgery, guarantee unrealistic results, or use misleading language. Appropriate advertisements state a surgeon’s credentials, including board certification and the name of the certifying board. Surgeons should never be selected on the basis of advertising alone.
  • Consultants: May not be objective. In most cases, it is impossible for a prospective patient to determine what considerations motivate fee-for-referral arrangements. Such referrals may be made in the consultant’s best interests, and not necessarily the patient’s.
  • Media coverage: No guarantee of a surgeon’s qualifications. The media frequently interview plastic surgeons. Some surgeons serve as spokespersons for reputable professional organizations, and others hire public relations representatives. A doctor’s appearance in the media is no guarantee of training or skill.
  • Bids for surgery: Price should not rule. While the surgical fee needs to be considered, it should never be the primary factor in selecting a plastic surgeon. The surgeon’s training, certification and experience are key to the success of cosmetic surgery.


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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