Chapter 5 Page 2 | Medical Travel and Cosmetic Surgery: Top Resources

General Sites

There are many U.S. government sites that are overwhelmingly useful for reference to anyone researching medical care online. Two are National Institutes of Health ( and its associated site for the National Library of Medicine ( A third site worth adding to your favorites is Healthfinder ( These sites are well-organized, well-maintained, searchable and, all in all, good starting points for researching health and medical issues.

There are dozens, even hundreds, of member societies, associations, and organizations for medical professionals in the United States alone that provide useful information for consumers and patients as well. There are also such sites in many other countries, but most are not in English. If you read and speak Spanish, you have an edge. Other languages may help as well, particularly Portuguese, if you are interested in Brazil.

However, unless otherwise noted, I will be referring to sites that have English language versions available. While Google and many other sites have translation tools, they are far from perfect. I have, however, found it to be very useful for at least getting the gist of non-English-language sites.

Cosmetic Surgery Sites
Whether you are considering going abroad for cosmetic surgery or not, the Web sites of the main professional associations for board-certified plastic and cosmetic surgeons in the United States are first-rate resources for news and researching procedures.

American Society of Plastic Surgeons

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the largest plastic surgery specialty organization in the world. Founded in 1931, the society comprises board-certified plastic surgeons who perform cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.

American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

The 2,200-member American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) is devoted entirely to the advancement of cosmetic surgery. ASAPS is recognized throughout the world as the authoritative source for cosmetic surgery education. U.S. members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Canadian members are certified in plastic surgery by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) represents 2,800 facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons throughout the world. The majority of AAFPRS members are certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, which includes passing an exam in facial plastic and reconstructive procedures. Other AAFPRS members are surgeons certified in ophthalmology, plastic surgery, and dermatology.

American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery

The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS) is a professional medical society whose members are dedicated to patient safety and physician education in cosmetic surgery. Most members of the AACS are dermatologic surgeons, facial plastic surgeons, head and neck surgeons, general surgeons, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, plastic surgeons, or ocular plastic surgeons, all of whom may specialize in cosmetic surgery.

Regardless of the concerns and misgivings that many surgeons in the United States express about patients traveling abroad for surgery, the AACS has partnered with Dubai Healthcare City in the United Arab Emirates to build the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital. The hospital will “include a cosmetic surgery hospital and academic facilities and bring world-class institutions and learning events to Dubai Healthcare City,” according to the AACS Web site. Construction began in mid-2005, the hospital was scheduled to be completed in mid-2006. For more information, browse to

The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) is the international society representing plastic surgeons that specialize in aesthetic plastic surgery and the official aesthetic plastic surgery chapter of the International Confederation of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (IPRAS) (

As of January 2006, ISAPS listed 1,316 total dues-paying member surgeons from 67 countries. Membership is by invitation only; contact information for member surgeons is available on the site, including email addresses for many and Web sites for some. The United States has more members than any other country, with 188. Brazil has 165; Mexico, 133.

ISAPS members compose a very small percentage of the total number of surgeons worldwide who are board-certified by national organizations with standards comparable to those in the United States. It is an elite group of sorts, but keep in mind that while some of the best cosmetic surgeons in the world are members, many more of the best are not members.

Other Sites

There are many international societies or associations of board-certified cosmetic and plastic surgeons that have Web sites, some with English language versions. They can include very good general information to help in your research. One of the best is the Mexican Association of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery (AMCPER) site ( In Mexico, board-certification signifies a surgeon has had at least 6 years of surgical training, 3 of them in plastic surgery, after graduating from medical school, and has passed certification exams — roughly equivalent to the certification process in the United States.



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