It’s hard to become a practicing plastic surgeon in the US, especially due to the massive requirements from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). However, there are some shortcuts you can take, such as joining the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.
When we say shortcuts, we don’t mean it’s easy; it’s just relatively more convenient and straightforward. You still have to go through extensive training sessions, written exams, oral exams, and more.
However, there is a clear difference between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery, and it’s best to learn the difference between the two to make an appropriate choice.
In this article, we’ll go over what the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery is and whether it’s wise to join it.
Let’s dive right in.
What Exactly is the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery
The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery is a central platform and community where all sorts of physicians from all specialties can advance their skills in cosmetic surgery. It was founded for the benefit of both the patients and the practitioners.
The AACS was founded in 1985, and over time, has become one of the leading training and educational provider for cosmetic surgery practitioners. They welcome practitioners with all medical specialties, including general surgery, dermatology, ophthalmology, oral & maxillofacial surgery, and reconstructive/plastic surgery.
Currently, the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery has over 1,600 members who pursue training and educational opportunities in cosmetic surgery. The academy provides various live surgery workshops, an Annual Science Meeting, and more. Over time, it has become one of the most well-known and trusted resources for cosmetic surgery education.
Here is the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery’s mission statement.
“We provide education, professional development, and advocacy to advance the multi-specialty, global discipline of cosmetic surgery and aesthetic medicine.”
Furthermore, their vision statement is a reminder of what direction the academy wants to go in the cosmetic surgery industry.
“The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery will lead as the multi-disciplinary professional association advancing excellence and safety in cosmetic surgery and aesthetic medicine.”
AACS also aims to remove the confusion between cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery.
In short, cosmetic surgery is about using medicine and surgery to enhance a patient’s appearance. Meanwhile, plastic surgery is a specialty that focuses on the reconstruction of the body and facial defects due to various reasons.
You can also learn specific procedures and surgeries and carve out a niche for yourself. For example, you can focus on facial cosmetic surgery only.
What Does the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Do?
The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery was built to offer training and educational opportunities to prospective cosmetic surgeons. Their primary functions can be summarized in the following way.
- Reputation and Advocacy: AACS has grown to be recognized by most surgeons in the US, developing a certain reputation. They provide membership certifications to members and provide listings on Find a Cosmetic Surgeon. They also represent you with the AMA House of Delegates. More importantly, they actively advocate for a cosmetic surgical specialty in the medical field.
- Education and Training: The AACS is a leading education and training academy for cosmetic surgeons. With workshops, conferences, live surgery classes, and more for all its members, AACS offers a wide range of training opportunities. They also manage an American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery and a Fellowship Core Curriculum that includes the latest cosmetic surgery-related information.
- Practice Resources: Being the pioneer in cosmetic surgery, the AACS offers one of the most extensive sources of practice resources. There’s an AACS store where you can buy relevant material and books that are otherwise hard to find. They also provide a complete career center where cosmetic surgeons can find jobs. There is also a newsletter that goes out with the latest information on cosmetic surgery procedures. More importantly, they offer support and discounts on practice supplies, accreditation, attaining licenses, and even student & personal loans.
The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery is a complete association of cosmetic surgeons designed to help current and prospective cosmetic surgeons attain expertise, exposure, and the help they need.
Why Join the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery?
Being part of a dedicated academy of cosmetic surgeons is a great way to get connected within a closed community. Many surgeons don’t get the opportunity to get into cosmetic surgery due to a lack of appropriate resources, accreditations, and more.
The AACS provides an easy and straightforward way of getting into cosmetic surgery. Meanwhile, you get connected with fellow peers, get access to potential jobs, and more.
The following are some of the primary reasons for joining the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.
A Boost to Your Reputation
Becoming a part of the AACS shows that you’re among the top-tier cosmetic surgeons, believing in the highest standards of education, ethics, and patient safety.
It’s a great indicator of your commitment to providing high-quality medical services and care. That’s because you need to prove yourself to be an official part of the community.
Furthermore, as members, you can also get a registration discount for up to 35% on all AACS continuing medical education (CME) programs.
Here are a few things you get access to that help bolster your reputation.
- Symposium on Facial Rejuvenation and Augmentation
- Annual Scientific Meeting
- Fellowship Core Curriculum Review
- Certified Cosmetic Surgery Fellowship Training
- Membership Certificate showcasing your AACS membership
- World Congress on Liposuction
- Digital CME Library and WebClinics
- In-Person Courses and Workshops
Getting access to and going to all the events and training sessions above builds up a positive reputation among cosmetic surgeons, maxillofacial surgeons, dermatological surgeons, plastic surgeons, and general surgeons.
A Boost to Your Practice
AACS also helps cosmetic surgeons with practice management solutions and resources, so they can set up their practice. They provide assistance with recruiting personnel and contract negotiation.
Other things the AACS offers to help you with your practice include:
- Career Centers
- Buyer’s Guides
- Accreditation Support
- Cosmetic Surgeon Referral Service
- Credit Card Merchant Services
- Membership Directory
- Office Discounts
- AACS Store
- Online Presence and Reputation
- Student Loan Refinancing
- Professional Liability Insurance
As a nonprofit, the academy offers a wide range of services to its members.
A Boost to Your Profession
Since AACS is consistently advocating for cosmetic surgeon rights, it offers you a place to practice and advertise your practice. You can also contribute to AACS publications or serve in key leadership positions.
The following are some of the things you get access to.
- American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery (AJCS)
- Representation among the AMA (American Medical Association) House of Delegates
- The Consult – quarterly newsletter
- Advocacy and Public Affairs
- Leadership Opportunities
- Virtual Engagement Opportunities
Other associations like the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) don’t tend to offer as much exposure as AACS does.
How Can You Join the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery?
Joining the AACS is a relatively simple process.
- Go to the AACS website to start the process.
- Choose the type of membership you want.
- Enter the registration information, including a username and your full name.
- Provide the necessary documents like medical or dentistry licenses.
- Pay your dues and become an AACS member.
There are four different types of memberships you can choose from, including the following.
- Physician Member – is a membership for registered physicians in the healthcare industry. The annual dues amount to $750.
- Fellow Member – is high-level membership where people can become a Fellow through a Traditional, Non-Core, or Board Certification pathway. Board-certified surgeons have the highest reputation among the association. The annual dues for Fellow members are $950.
- Allied Health Member – is a medium-level membership for professionals who provide patient care, facelifts, and fillers services. The annual dues for Allied Health Members amount to $275.
- Resident Member – has no annual dues and can be obtained by any physician.
You can learn more about each membership here.
Is it Worth it to Join the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery?
Unlike specialties like obstetrics and gynecology, cosmetic surgery is a little more complicated. That’s because it usually involves the head and neck, and any mistake can lead to massive issues. That’s why cosmetic surgeons like Joe Niamtu get famous because they’re known for never making a mistake.
There are other organizations like the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and the Fellow American College of Surgeons (FACS).
However, AACS has a much simpler membership program, it’s easier to join, and there are way more resources and training opportunities.
For a less expensive option, the AACS proves to be a much better option.
In short, the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery is a great organization to join for current and aspiring cosmetic surgeons.