Regulatory Requirements for Starting a Plastic Surgery Practice

The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) is the body responsible for the promotion of safe and ethical practice in the cosmetic surgery specialty. The mission of the ABCS is to use standard examination and certification as well as a process of peer review to demonstrate high standards of expertise, knowledge, and training.

According to the American Association for the Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgical Facilities, only 20 US states require licensing or accreditation of plastic surgery practices. As you can see, plastic surgery as a medical practice doesn’t have strict regulatory requirements in most US states. The reason for the current state of events is plastic surgery is a relatively new area that just began to gain popularity over the recent past.

Although plastic or cosmetic surgery is a field by itself, many professionals in the field of medicine are doubling up as plastic or cosmetic surgeons. That’s definitely good news for the person looking to start a new plastic surgery practice, but what about the consumer? We have all seen or heard about cases of plastic surgery gone wrong, right?

Protecting the Consumer

About half of US states require accreditation or licensing of medical offices where surgeries are performed. Critics say that even though there are office-based laws and rules, they are always not ready. For instance, most licensing or accreditation rules only cover surgery where there the patient has undergone a complete anesthesia.

Other rules only apply when there Medicare or private insurance is used, which isn’t usually the case when it comes to plastic surgery. Just recently, the Federation of Medical Board met to discuss the oversight of the regulation of office-based plastic surgery and spas. Laws regulating the practice of medicine and medical boards were put in place over a century ago when cosmetic surgeries and procedures hadn’t been contemplated.

According to Texas’ Medical Board Director Mari Robinson, these rules and regulations didn’t foresee the pursuit of medical procedures based solely on the improvement of one’s appearance. These gaps in regulation put the lives of consumers at risk and there is a need to tighten the rules and regulations governing outpatient surgery. The lack of enough laws to govern plastic surgery procedures has sparked lots of conversations about the how to ensure the protection of patients undergoing plastic surgery in various office-based clinics.

Starting a New Practice

At the moment, the laws governing the opening and running of an office-based plastic surgery practice are few. All you have to do is adhere to ABCS’s code of practice — the professional behavior and ethics required of the members of the body — and you’re good to go. Accountability, compassion, integrity, respect, honesty, and surgical excellence are embedded in the code.

These values are intended to guide the interactions between patients, nursing staff, trainees, and fellow surgeons. As a plastic surgeon, it’s important to ensure that you have certification in the field before you decide to open up a private practice. AAAHC and AAAASF accreditations may also be necessary in some instances.