ASPS Identity Crisis 2.0

Millard Principle Number 12: Do Not Underestimate the Enemy

Plastic Surgery the Meeting 2015 could likely sink into the Boston Harbor making plastic surgery history.  Not that the ASPS pays any attention to my contributions to the industry in which we all thrive, but this year they appear to especially ignore their own membership that created their existence.  Certainly I am not the only person to notice this year’s ASPS meeting registration form allowing registration for any physician as long as they are willing to pay an extra $600 and provide a copy of their medical license.

By now, if you are a real ABPS board certified plastic surgeon you have paused in horror and reaching for that original meeting registration form to verify my statements.  It’s true.  The same organization that delivers vague videos about “White Coat Confusion” and often reports on the horrors of cosmetic surgery tourism in third world countries is now throwing your credentials and board certification into the Harbor.

Two years ago, leaders and members of the Aesthetic Society circulated my blog article addressing the identity confusion and disrespectful proposals of a rather ambitious desire to merge with the Aesthetic Society without proper discussions with the Aesthetic Society.  In summary of that article, I pointed out the failure of the ASPS to maintain the identity of real plastic surgeons as both reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgeons since their de-valuing name change from the “ASPRS” to the “ASPS.”  That same year, while present with my ABPS surgeon/husband at the Aesthetic Society (ASAPS) meeting in New York City, several senior officials and members approached me to not only thank me for the article, but appreciated my point-of-view.

Fast forward to 2015 and we have witnessed no attempt by the ASPS to maintain the integrity of ABPS certification as they allow the cosmetic cowboys to attend and participate in your “meeting.” Might I add that the phrase “cosmetic cowboys” was originally penned by the British Plastic Surgeons who are the “guest” country at this year’s ASPS convention (The real plastic surgeons in the United Kingdom have the same problem as we do here in the US). Yes, you have been sold out.  Your trade secrets are now dispersed in the name of the “core” and the cosmetic cowboys get to play “pretend” with your board certification granted courtesy of your white-coat-confused ASPS.

So where are they going with this? Is ASPS membership expected to be all warm and fuzzy? This sneaky maneuver is clearly a desperate attempt by the ASPS posing as the  medical industry’s flower child to increase their numbers since that Aesthetic Society “merger” didn’t work out for them.  I suppose this is their Plan B and let’s hope a special meeting “session” won’t be created for the cosmetic cowboys in future ASPS meetings.  Obviously, I do believe this is where they are going. It’s no secret where their priorities are: generating revenue any way possible.  Rumors have circulated for years that their numbers are down after having experienced poor attendance at some previous meetings and they have more focus on the Medicare lobbyist efforts while losing vision of the true cosmetic bread-and-butter that affords their membership fees and meeting expenses.

Over a decade ago, they dropped the “R” and now the meeting is open to all with a valid medical license.  I have previously argued they failed to defend the cosmetic plastic surgeons by dropping the “R’ thus opening the door and generalizing all plastic surgeons.  It’s long overdue for real plastic surgeons to take a stand and let your voice be heard.  This is your industry and there is no confusion about your white-coat but the ASPS needs to be made aware of their diagnosis and treated accordingly.

In the recent newsletter published by the ASPS, the current president wrote that both the ASPS and the ASAPS provide “duplicate” material and even sub-title one section of the address as “We are one specialty.”  This address is a pathetic attempt to “calm the waters” between the ASPS and ASAPS with condescending statements regarding “one-word” duplicate services, reminding the reader the ASPS boasts “9000 members (world-wide)” to the mere “2000 members” the Aesthetic Society maintains as an “overlap.”  The numbers may be greater with the ASPS but let’s not forget their new open door policy creating an over-crowded dingy of white coats.  The ASAPS confirmed with me by telephone today, October 16, 2015, that they only allow real board certified plastic surgeons to their annual meetings.  Looks like their membership is about to increase.

In the ASPS President’s Message, he acknowledges the concerns membership have with the “incursion of other specialists, paraprofessionals and non-professionals into the field of plastic surgery.” Yet, in a separate article proclaiming the “bright” future of the ASPS, any ABPS surgeon would quickly notice that the ASPS is on a fast-tract to shed integrity in the name of “collaborative efforts” with those invading “other specialties” and opening the door to cosmetic cowboys who continue to diminish and slander the accredited plastic surgery residency programs nation-wide that produce ABPS surgeons who deserve to not have their credentials toyed with.

Dr. Ralph Millard would agree to a point with Principle Number 29: Gain Access to Other Specialties’ Problems.  Real board certified plastic surgeons already receive their problems.  I find it hard to believe The Chief would agree to allowing the problematic cosmetic cowboys access to a specialty originally built on integrity and currently being sabotaged in the name of “collaborative efforts.” But let’s not get ahead of ourselves with “duplicate” material.  With this “collaborative” attitude and new business plan, the ASPS is creating their iceberg in the water and moving straight for it.

About The Plastic Truth

Plastic Surgery Practice Manager, Founder of, kidney donor, website administrator, all things plastic surgery blogger, and non-profit executive administrator. Google
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2 Responses to ASPS Identity Crisis 2.0

  1. Roberto J. Méndez M.D. says:

    Dear Mrs. Howard:

    Bravo! for writing this article.

    I’m glad to know that I am not alone, and would love to hear from other colleagues what they think about this topic.

    I am a board certified plastic surgeon from Puerto Rico and a member of the ASPS and ASAPS. In Puerto Rico we were able to regulate Plastic Surgery. Regulations were created by the Medical Board, and medical doctors that aren’t Plastic Surgeons cannot perform plastic surgery procedures.

    Two years ago I stood up at the ASAPS Business meeting and stated that I couldn’t comprehend why the ASPS meetings are open to any medical doctor who pays the registration. At the same meeting, the ASPS President at the time, Dr. Greg Evans, replied that he believed that the meetings had to be open because of the Illinois laws and statues.

    Not so. ASPS sponsors its own education, same as ASAPS. Both are 501(c)(6) trade associations organized for the benefit of their members, not the public, so neither is obliged to have an open meeting. ASAPS has held a closed meeting for almost 50 years. So why is ASPS still teaching plastic surgery to non-plastic surgeons? Could that be that, for ASPS, it’s all about the money?

    Roberto J. Méndez M.D., F.A.C.S.

    • THANK YOU for your response! It means so much to me to know I am not on deaf ears. Yes, as I pointed out in my article, it must be all about generating more revenue at the expense of your credentials. I’m sorry they are doing this to our industry. I say “our” because I work in my husband’s practice and carry Dr. Millard’s legacy with his non-profit organization. Those thumps coming from a crypt in Miami are no Halloween joke. If this had happened during The Chief’s career it surely would have set him off. I’m glad he is not here to witness this. I have forwarded your response to the Aesthetic Society and a few other “friends.” Thanks again, and please remain vocal.

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