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The Aesthetic Society Urges Immediate Action: Stronger Regulations of Outpatient Aesthetic Surgery in California and Across the United States


(Garden Grove, CA, April 5, 2024) - In response to the recent statement issued by the California Society of Plastic Surgeons regarding the urgent need for improved regulation of outpatient aesthetic surgical services, The Aesthetic Society reaffirms its commitment to patient safety. It supports the call for stricter rules in California, the United States, and globally. 

This repeated call for action comes in response to a recent Los Angeles Times article “She Died After Liposuction by a Pediatrician. Doctors Warn of Cosmetic Surgery’s ’Wild West’”. This article explores an alarming lack of regulation for physicians performing outpatient aesthetic surgeries in California. Unfortunately, this is not a problem isolated to any one state. Currently, state regulators across the United States give doctors broad discretion. In California and many other states, licensed physicians can practice in any medical area, and investigations are often only triggered by complaints or deaths. 

Unlike providers seeking hospital admitting privileges, those performing aesthetic procedures in their own offices may bypass the rigorous evaluation process that ensures competency. Not all office-based surgery is dangerous; in fact, office-based surgery is quite safe in the hands of a competent doctor practicing within the scope of their education and training and in accredited facilities. Surgery of any kind, including cosmetic surgery, whether performed in an office-based setting, or a hospital setting, or ambulatory surgery center (ASC), is dangerous if the doctor performing it is not qualified with education and residency training in their scope of practice. Hospitals and ASCs are able to manage this risk by ensuring that privileges for their doctors meet these standards for safety. Office-based clinics currently do not have such oversight and requirements.

Dr. Melinda Haws, President of The Aesthetic Society, emphasized the importance of patient safety and the need for stringent regulations in aesthetic medicine. "Patient safety is our utmost priority, and our goal is education," said Dr. Haws. "We fully support the efforts of the California Society of Plastic Surgeons in advocating for regulations that ensure doctors do not practice outside the scope of their training and education. To quote Dr. Amanda Gosman, President of the California Society of Plastic Surgeons, ‘Patients are dying because they are undergoing risky procedures by physicians who lack accredited residency training in surgery, specifically cosmetic surgery.’ “We stand with CSPS, and we must do all we can to protect patients. We advocate for similar regulations across the entire U.S. and are working with our international partners to achieve such safety regulations globally."

Plastic surgery is one of the Core Aesthetic Surgical specialties. To become a plastic surgeon requires a minimum of three years of general surgery residency training (or equivalent surgical subspecialty training) and three years of plastic surgery residency training at a minimum. To become board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), a doctor is required to graduate from an accredited plastic surgery residency, to successfully complete both an oral and written examination, as well as to pass yearly maintenance of certification exams in plastic surgery. To maintain board-certification also requires Continuing Medical Education with specific yearly minimum requirements in patient safety. All members of The Aesthetic Society and The California Society of Plastic Surgeons are ABPS board-certified. You can find our ABMS board-certified Aesthetic Society members here. 

As a professional body, The Aesthetic Society is dedicated to advocating for patient safety and upholding the highest standards of care in the field of aesthetic surgery. Aesthetic surgeons who wish to join The Aesthetic Society, known as "Active Members," must be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The Aesthetic Society strongly advises patient seeking aesthetic surgical procedures to only undergo surgery performed by American Board of Medical Specialties Certified plastic surgeons or by other core aesthetic physicians (facial plastic surgeons, oculoplastic surgeons, dermatologists) practicing within their scope of training.

The Aesthetic Society calls upon state legislatures and medical boards to enact regulations that protect patients from unqualified practitioners and uphold the highest standards of care in aesthetic medicine and aesthetic/cosmetic surgery. Aesthetic surgery is still surgery and should be treated as such. 

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About The Aesthetic Society

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. The Aesthetic Society is comprised of over 3,000 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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