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The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery

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Having been a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS) for over 25 years, I was honored to be named the 2012 President of the Academy this past January. The AACS is an international, multi-specialty community of more than 2,500 healthcare professionals from diverse backgrounds. With education as its primary function, the Academy draws from the unique experiences and expertise of multiple specialties, including plastic surgery, facial plastic surgery, dermatologic surgery, general surgery, oculoplastic surgery, oral and maxillo-facial surgery, and gynecologic cosmetic surgery.

The media often use the terms “cosmetic surgery” and “plastic surgery” interchangeably, contributing to the confusion of patients and the general public. By definition, cosmetic surgery is an AMA recognized discipline of medicine focused on enhancing appearance through medical and surgical procedures. Because these procedures generally treat non-diseased areas, cosmetic surgery is elective. Plastic surgery is a specialty that includes aesthetic procedures and deals significantly with reconstruction of facial and body defects due to birth disorder, trauma, burns, and disease. Physicians who are board-certified in one of the previously mentioned specialties and who complete an approved fellowship and/ or demonstrate extensive experience in cosmetic surgery may sit for the written and oral examinations to become certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS). The experience route to certification by the ABCS is scheduled to be phased out over the next two years, after which completion of a fellowship in cosmetic surgery will be required for all candidates.

Education and patient safety are at the very core of the AACS’ mission to advance the specialty of cosmetic surgery and quality patient care. In providing high-quality continuing medical education to cosmetic surgeons, the AACS believes it improves the quality of patient care and, as a direct result, patient safety. Such education is provided through yearlong approved fellowships, a variety of live patient and cadaver dissection workshops, videos, and other supplemental educational materials.

Challenges facing all cosmetic surgeons are numerous and are the same for me practicing in Owensboro as for those in other areas. As elective surgery, the economy has affected all but the most mature practices. Competition, both within and among various specialties will always be a challenge. The AACS recognizes that its most important challenge is improving the quality and safety of cosmetic surgery. The requirement that our members perform cosmetic surgery only in a surgery center accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting organization and a continual update of practice guidelines are just two of numerous ongoing initiatives to improve patient safety.

Gerald G. Edds, MD, is a board-certified cosmetic surgeon practicing in Owensboro, Kentucky, and the 2012 president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. For more information, contact him at (270) 926-9033, toll-free (800) 820-4833, or at