Despite the huge growth in cosmetic surgery procedures around the world, most women in the US still don’t know the difference between a cosmetic surgeon and a plastic surgeon, according to new survey.

The survey by RealSelf, which has over 95 million people visit its website each year to research elective cosmetic treatments, found that nearly 6o percent of US women don’t know there is a difference between the two professions.

In addition 84 percent of women in the US are unaware that medical professionals do not have to be board certified in plastic surgery to perform surgical cosmetic procedures such as rhinoplasty or breast augmentation. More than half (55 percent) think medical professionals are required to be board certified while about one-third (29 percent) admit they simply don’t know.

Furthermore to add to the confusion, only about one in five (19 percent) of women in the US know that a licensed physician can advertise as a cosmetic surgeon, even if they have no formal training in plastic surgery.

Releasing the report, RealSelf chief medical editor Dr. Lara Devgan said “medical aesthetics is a little like the Wild West”.

“Unfortunately, many consumers simply don’t realise the lack of regulation,” she said.

“This study highlights some of the most common misconceptions and why it’s so important to do your research.

“As nonsurgical treatments become more accessible and a wave of people seek procedures for the first time, patients must understand that it’s crucial to use RealSelf to fact-check a doctor’s credentials before booking a treatment.”

While confusion about credentials and qualifications is widespread, the report also notes that most consumers still view the decision to move forward with a cosmetic procedure as a serious one.

American women who have had,or are considering, a cosmetic procedure say patient reviews (67 percent) and a provider’s education and board certification (66 percent) are the most valuable pieces of information when choosing a doctor for a cosmetic treatment or procedure.

To be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, surgeons must have at least six years of residency training, while certification from the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery requires only one year.

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