Is the State of Plastic Surgery Changing?

I had a conversation with another local plastic surgeon yesterday and he lamented about the state of plastic surgery today. He’s been around a bit longer than I have and said he’s seeing things changing in our area. “People are advertising rock-bottom prices and red-tag sales,” he stated. We’re seeing a large number of non-plastic surgeons performing plastic surgery in the metro Detroit area, and the numbers of these practitioners appears to be increasing by the month. The worsening economic climate has probably pushed more and more non-plastic surgeons into our field.

I picked up a local glossy magazine and saw a special advertising section, featuring lasers and cosmetic plastic surgery. Many people see the large, glossy ads and automatically assume that means the physician is a reputable, board-certified plastic surgeon. So who are these doctors?

One is an osteopathic physician whom I think may be ENT-trained and fellowship trained in cosmetic surgery.

One is an internal medicine physician who is advertising liposuction.

One is an emergency room physician who is advertising all types of cosmetic plastic surgery.

One is an osteopathic board-certified plastic surgeon.

Two are plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

All of the ads are very convincing and well-written. No wonder patients get confused on who to actually go to!

Photo credit:

Thanks for reading.

Michigan-based Plastic Surgeon

Anthony Youn, M.D.

Posted in: Plastic Surgery News


  1. Tony, I agree with you entirely. Physicians from every specialty,no matter how removed from plastic surgery or for that matter surgery of any kind, have realized the state of anarchy that exists in the world of cosmetic plastic surgery. Consequently,these physicians think that taking a weekend course or having a company rep teach them some type of procedure is an easy way for them to augment their income. As an example, I heard from one of my breast implant reps recently that he was called by a local dermatologist to have him come and show him how to do breast augmentation surgery. Imagine, a dermatolgist doing breast surgery in his office( keep in mind that dermatology is a division of internal medicine and not surgery) ! With lack of regulations particularly as they relate to office based surgery, the anarchy will continue and innocent,unsuspecting patients who think their doctor is “board-certified” and well trained will continue to be hurt, disfigured and some will even die. As your colleague and an active member of the ASPS, I am deeply saddened by what is happening to the field of cosmetic plastic surgery. It has truly become a buyer-beware market.

    Comment by Dr Hainer on February 20, 2008 at 8:36 pm

  2. You mentioned that one of the surgeons who advertised his service is an osteopathic board-certified plastic surgeon. How is he any different, training-wise, from your regular MDed plastic surgeon? I thought the only variation between a osteopathic and allopathic surgeon is the initials degreed following a birth name.

    Could it be that this osteopathic surgeon was allopathically trained?

    Comment by Anonymous on February 21, 2008 at 4:11 pm

  3. Dr. Youn,
    Why are you separating the osteopathic physician who is board certified in plastic surgery from the othe two physicians who are board certified in plastic surgery? Many people read your blog and this type of separation/classification may only serve to perpetuate the DO vs MD useless battle.

    Comment by s on February 21, 2008 at 6:08 pm

  4. Thank you for your comments. Allopathic and osteopathic physicians are trained in completely different institutions, for the most part. I separated the DO vs. MD plastic surgeons because the DO plastic surgeon is not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. I have no knowledge of the osteopathic board os plastic surgery and their requirements, and therefore will not comment specifically on it, except to say that it is not the American Board of Plastic Surgery, which is the only one recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The ABMS is the standard-bearer for certifying boards in the United States (includes the Board of Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, General Surgery, etc.). Other dubious boards, such as the Board of Cosmetic Surgery, are not members of the ABMS.

    Comment by Dr. Tony Youn on February 21, 2008 at 9:40 pm

  5. I have to question why an osteopath would even go into cosmetic surgery. It has nothing whatever to do with his specialty and the skill set wouldn’t be complimentary in the least.

    Comment by raincoaster on February 25, 2008 at 11:55 am

  6. Regarding raincoaster’s comment, Osteopathic Medicine is not a specialized degree in and of itself; those attending osteopathic schools have a four year education similar to those students at allopathic medical schools. Perhaps you are thinking of a specialist in Osteopathic Manipulative medicine, a specialty that requires the physician to complete a fellowship after his/her residency. Similar to allopathic programs, graduates from osteopathic medical schools complete internships, residencies, and fellowships in anything from family practice, to sports medicine, to plastic surgery. The difference between the degrees (DO vs. MD) lies solely in the philosophy behind the education, not in the content.

    Comment by s on March 1, 2008 at 11:44 pm

  7. I agree that Plastic surgery is changing and one way the consumer can protect themselves is to do some researching on their own. One of the most important things to check out is if a doctor is on the board of American Board of Plastic Surgery.

    Here are a couple of places you can go to find a board certified plastic surgeon, as well as the website for American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Both these sites as well as others can and will help you find a certified doctor near you.

    Comment by Kerry on March 6, 2008 at 1:09 pm

  8. I am constantly amazed at how little M.D.s know about D.O.s. As a physician, you should be educated about health care professionals. As a D.O. I took every course that you did as an M.D. took AND additional courses in osteopathic medicine, all while studying for and passing the same USMLE board exams that you took. Those summers that you had off to study for the USMLE? I was gathering extra training in osteopathic medicine. It infuriates me that M.D.s speak so freely about D.O.’s but never seem to take the time to educated themselves on the other doctor practicing beside them. When asked about a D.O., I see more often than not, M.D.s “umm, umm..well, I’m not aware of this or that”.
    IF a D.O. is a plastic surgeon, then it means that they probably were trained at an allopathic post grad program (since there are few osteopathic plastic surgery residency programs) and board certified by the ABPS.

    Comment by Anonymous on February 24, 2009 at 6:20 pm

  9. The last anon-
    You are wrong in your assumptions and more. The osteopathic plastic surgeon did not attend an allopathic plastic surgery residency program, hence the lack of certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. You also assume that I have a beef with osteopaths, which is not true. My primary care physician is an osteopath, and I trust her more than most allopathic physicians. I take your defensiveness as a sign of insecurity. I am sure you are a fine physician, DO or MD.

    Comment by Dr. Tony Youn on February 24, 2009 at 8:39 pm

  10. Just a comment. I don’t presume Dr. Youn means anything negative about the osteopathic board certified physician. ABMS or ABPS doesn’t certify osteopathic tract plastic surgeons, period. The only osteopaths that can sit for the ABMS board exams are those in MD residencies.It is up to the individual to determine if the osteopathic board and the ABMS are equivalent.

    Comment by M on June 13, 2011 at 11:27 pm

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