There is a lot of confusion about titles and who is and is not a plastic surgeon. Can you help clear up the confusion?


In 2008, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) sought out opinions and working with the Ministry of Health, introduced new rules on the use of Specialist titles that was introduced in February of 2009. Prior to this, there was no restriction on the use of “Surgeon” or “Plastic”. Thus, physicians who were neither Surgeons nor Plastic Surgeons could advertise that they were. The title “Cosmetic Surgeon” was commonly in use – it reflected neither a person’s training nor competence.

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As of February 2009, sweeping changes have been brought into effect. The words “Surgeon” and “Surgery” can only be used by physicians that are Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) certified in a surgical specialty or have been recognized by the CPSO as a Surgeon. Thus, only fully trained Surgeons can call themselves Surgeons. No more weekend courses allowing physicians to call themselves “Cosmetic Surgeons”. This title officially no longer exists.

Furthermore, “Plastic” can only be used by physicians who are RCPSC certified in Plastic Surgery. Thus only Plastic Surgeons can call themselves Plastic Surgeons. However, other specialists (such as General Surgeons, Otolaryngologists (ENT: Ear, Nose and Throat), Ophthalmologists can describe services they offer after they define their training. For example, a Plastic Surgeon will self-describe as “Dr. O’Grady, Plastic Surgeon”. Other surgical specialists (who are not certified in Plastic Surgery) may describe themselves as “Dr. Y, Otolaryngologist or General Surgeon or Ophthalmologist, Practicing in Facial Plastic Surgery”. Physicians who are not Surgeons may self describe as “Practicing in Cosmetic Medicine”.

The CPSO regulations were developed in response to the confusion that existed in advertising and promotional materials among physicians offering cosmetic surgery. It allows physicians to accurately describe their practice while protecting the public by establishing a consistent and factual framework for the use of specialist titles. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario also felt that restrictions were required to ensure that the public does not make important medical decisions based on misperception.