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Why I Support Maryland’s New Truth in Advertising Law

Did you know that until today, Monday, October 1, almost any doctor in Maryland could advertise themselves as a “board certified” cosmetic surgeon without going through the rigorous training required by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)?

It’s true. Many physicians have been advertising that they are “board certified” without specifying the board that certified them. To further complicate matters, anyone with a medical license can perform cosmetic surgery in a noncertified office-based setting, regardless of their original training or skill level. Many of my patients have been shocked to learn that a “cosmetic surgeon” was really a family practice physician who had no formal training in plastic surgery. They didn’t even know!

I support this change in state law requiring truth in advertising by physicians (S.B. 395/H.B. 957), effective October 1, 2012. The training required to be a board certified plastic surgeon is thorough, rigorous, and demanding. Consumers need to be able to trust that a plastic surgeon has the training they expect. The law requires that all doctors state they are “board certified” by one of the 24 approved medical boards, of which the ABPS is one. Additionally—and importantly for cosmetic surgery patients—physicians must also disclose the board that originally certified them, so patients can verify if a trained plastic surgeon will be performing their cosmetic procedures.

Patient safety is at the heart of this new law, which received strong bipartisan support. There is a vast difference in training between a physician who is ABMS board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and one who is not. Many of the distressing stories that make the news are situations where an untrained or lesser trained physician is performing a plastic surgery procedure. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. When you are considering cosmetic surgery, you deserve to know that the doctor you’ve chosen has the best training necessary to deliver excellent results—including the skills to handle complications, should they arise.

Always check your cosmetic surgeon’s credentials and type of board certification. An educated patient is an empowered patient!