How to Become a Cosmetic Surgeon


Alterations done on your body when you undergo cosmetic surgery are for keeps. A facelift, rhinoplasty, or breast augmentation results in long-lasting change, ideally for a better you.

However, not everyone who claims to do cosmetic surgery is a certified professional. A recent survey showed that up to 84% of women are unaware that doctors can perform a body-enhancement procedure without being board certified. This statistic is quite disturbing, given that 3/4 of women who are considering going under the knife will be doing so for the first time, according to the same poll. Moreover, interest in cosmetic surgery among younger women (aged 18 to 34) is now greater compared to those in the 35-and-up age bracket.

ABPS Recognized as the Official Certifying Board

As discussed in our earlier published blog, prospective patients can expect American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)-certified surgeons to handle procedures safely and expertly. The ABPS is the only medical board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) that certifies surgeons conducting face and body plastic surgery. The ABMS serves as the governing institution over 24 boards. 

Besides the ABPS, the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) also offers certification for cosmetic surgery. However, the ABMS doesn't recognize the ABCS as a certifying body, nor is the latter an ABMS member board. 

How to Become a Cosmetic Surgeon: The Two Routes

The United States currently has no residency programs solely dedicated to cosmetic surgery. Surgeons must fulfill conditions required by a medical board that grants them certification.

Through ABPS 

The ABPS considers cosmetic surgery as an essential component of plastic surgery. To attain certification, candidates should first graduate from an accredited medical school then get additional training under a program that’s recognized by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), which lasts for at least six years.  

At least three years of the residency training is dedicated to all aspects of plastic surgery—repair, reconstruction, or replacement of physical defects—affecting the whole body. This includes the face, skin, musculoskeletal system, breasts, hands, arms and legs, trunk, genitals, and cosmetic enhancement.

The ACGME has two training models:

  1. The independent model runs for at least three years. It involves completing an ACGME-accredited residency in general surgery that should include other types of surgery in the following:
  • Neurology 
  • Orthopedics
  • Otolaryngology (ears, nose, and throat)
  • Thoracic system (organs in the chest) 
  • Vascular system (veins and arteries) 
  • Urology (urinary tract system and male reproductive organs)

Meanwhile, degree holders of dentistry or doctors of dental surgery should complete an American Dental Association-approved residency program in oral and maxillofacial surgery. Residency completers should have rendered at least 24 months of progressive responsibility on surgical rotations. Rotations performed during medical school before one's M.D. degree aren't counted.

  1. The integrated model requires six years of clinical surgical training under the plastic surgery program director, three years of which should concentrate on plastic surgery training. Candidates take on senior or chief responsibilities for at least 12 months during the training. Additional training covers surgeries in the abdomen, alimentary tract, breast, and vascular system, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, surgical oncology, transplant, emergency medicine, and trauma management.

Through ABCS Route 

Meanwhile, the ABCS requires candidates to complete one to two years of full-time training after completing their residency in any of the following:

  • General surgery
  • Neurological surgery
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Ophthalmology 
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Otolaryngology 
  • Thoracic surgery 
  • Urology 
  • American board of oral and maxillofacial surgery with M.D. degree

Surgeons specializing in plastic surgery can be eligible for ABCS membership without a primary board certification by completing a plastic surgery residency approved by the ACGME along with obtaining either of the following:

  • Cosmetic surgery fellowship approved by the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery 
  • Aesthetic plastic surgery fellowship approved by the ABPS 

Candidates under the ABCS surgery fellowship should perform at least 300 cosmetic surgery cases. 

Examinations, Validity of Certifications

Candidate surgeons must pass oral and written examinations. Surgeons certified by the ABPS earn the title “diplomate,” whose certifications remain valid for 10 years. Surgeons must renew their certification every 10 years.

Other Credentials

When looking up "cosmetic surgeons near me," remember that the most qualified surgeons work at facilities that are accredited, state-licensed, and Medicare-certified. They should be able to present "before and after" photos of their work and receive consistently positive reviews from patients.

Membership in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons is another good credential. Its members have a high level of medical education and adhere to patient safety standards.


Palmer Cosmetic Surgery

When looking for cosmetic surgery services around Fort Lauderdale, go to the facility headed by one of the city's leading plastic surgeons, Dr. Russel Palmer. At Palmer Cosmetic Surgery, you’ll benefit from his extensive experience in face and neck lifts, blepharoplasty (eyelid lift), and abdominoplasty (tummy tuck).

Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, Dr. Palmer was among the pioneering plastic surgeons that combined facelifts with full face laser surfacing. From the time he began his private practice in Hollywood in 1989 up to this day, Dr. Palmer enjoys an untarnished record, having performed procedures with minimal pain and fast recovery times.

Palmer Cosmetic Surgery is committed to patient safety and delivering quality services. Visit their site now for more inquiries.