Patients in California are now protected from misleading advertisements claiming a doctor is a board certified cosmetic surgeon. Board certified by what agency? You now have the answer to this question. Board certification is important – board certified by the Medical Board of California is very important. On December 19, 2018, the Medical Board of California (MBC) unanimously voted against allowing members of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) to advertise as “board certified” cosmetic surgeons, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons1, who helped in the passing of the ruling.

The new requirements should help with patients’ ability to search for a qualified board certified plastic surgeon without the confusing board certified label physicians sometimes used in their advertising. Any licensed physician can legally label himself or herself as a cosmetic surgeon, regardless of training. With the California medical board preventing the association of “board certified” to members of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABSC), it should help protect patient safety. These independent certifications lack the level of training required for surgeons with the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) member boards.

Dr. Michael Kulick, board certified plastic surgeon of San Francisco, has more than twenty years of experience. He is certified through the American Board of of Surgery. He has also been certified by ASPS and ASAPS, societies that are looking for an additional level of commitment. If you are unsure whether your surgeon is board certified in plastic surgery, look for the ASPS symbol because only members of the society may display the symbol and all members of it are required to be board certified in plastic surgery.

Dr. Kulick reflects on this opinion…“There is no disrespect for physicians that want to be considered a Board Certified plastic surgeon. American Society of Plastic SurgeonsThey have undergone years of training. However, there is a significant difference regarding one’s training, the educational experience and being considered a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Not all plastic surgeons that have undergone a rigorous training through an accredited plastic training program would be considered a board certified plastic surgeon. At a minimum, the training experience is different.”

The ruling finalizes the plot of a two-decades-long story. In 1996, California law was changed so that the state’s physicians could only advertise ABMS certifications. However, an exception could be made when a non-ABMS board was specifically reviewed and deemed equivalent to an ABMS member board by the MBC. The MBC repeatedly deemed ABCS fell short of the state’s training program standards requiring their training programs equivalent in scope, content, and duration accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

In 2018, California reworked its board certification law and eliminated the MBC’s equivalency review process as of January 1, 2019. The ABCS can no longer apply for board certification status for the MBC to reconsider the new ruling.

Whenever you are electing plastic surgery, a doctor such as Dr. Kulick who is a board certified physician in plastic surgery, will be able to answer questions about his background, training, and board certification. Here are a few specific questions to ask a provider:

  • Are you board certified in plastic surgery? (Listen to make sure they do not answer as board certified cosmetic surgeon.)
  • Where did you complete your residency and training?
  • In what field(s) did you do your training?
  • How many procedures which I am requesting have you completed? And when and where were they done?

Board certified in plastic surgery is standard that other physicians can use or place via website replies. By choosing a board certified surgeon, you are being deliberate to elect a professional with the skill, knowledge, and expertise needed to provide a safe and effective surgery or non-surgical treatment. Contact Dr. Kulick, a board certified plastic surgeon in San Francisco with more than 20 years of experience, member of ASPS and ASAPS who will be more than happy to take the time to answer all your questions about his certification and the procedure you would like him to perform.

Additional Resources

  1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. American Board of Cosmetic Surgery denied right to advertise as “board certified” in California Retrieved from

Dr Michael KulickDr. Michael Kulick, MD is a leading board certified plastic surgeon in San Francisco, California. During an initial consultation, he’ll examine your individual anatomy, discuss all your options, and create a unique treatment plan along with any other necessary procedures. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of plastic surgery and are looking for a qualified cosmetic surgeon, use this online form to request a consultation with Dr. Kulick or call 415-956-2550.