Earlier this year a patient education campaign called “White Coat Deception”presented a series of cases involving botched plastic surgeries by doctors who perform outside their realm of specialization, that is, non-plastic surgeons who call themselves plastic surgeons or cosmetic surgeons. 

How can doctors, many who are not even surgeons, call themselves plastic surgeons? Surprisingly, there is no law in the United States. stating that surgeons must adhere to their sphere of training and know-how. This allows some doctors to claim to be experts in areas outside of the specialty of medicine that they are trained and certified to practice. For patients who don’t know better, this leads to failed surgeries that can be fatal.

In a press release by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Malcolm Roth states that “Patients are getting injured, some are dying during procedures performed by non-board-certified plastic surgeons. We want patients to understand what to ask their doctor and what to look for so that they can maximize their chance of a safe and successful procedure.”

“White Coat Deception” is a new public safety campaign, Roth explained, to warn patients to beware that not every doctor who dons a white lab coat is qualified to perform certain types of plastic surgery, if any at all.

As part of the “White Coat Deception” campaign, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons urges patients to inquire about the credentials a doctor has and to verify any certification concerns on the ASPS Web site. All ASPS members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, which is the one and only Board for granting certification for plastic surgeons in the United States.