California law makes it legal for ANY licensed physician to  perform cosmetic procedures without an actual certification in plastic surgery. A surgeon saying they are “board-certified” does not equate with being certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS).  While researching, you may come across a physician with a “certification” in the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, but this is more akin to being in a club than an actual certification.

Why is the differentiation important? Because traditionally, the American Society of Plastic Surgery has overseen the training of well-qualified plastic surgeons. As a consumer, it’s important to discern what certifications your chosen physician has achieved.

All members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons are certified by the ABPS, or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The ABPS is the only one of the 24 boards approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) that certifies physicians in plastic surgery of the face and all areas of the body. These certifications were put in place in order to protect consumers from “fly-by-night” plastic surgeons and those unqualified to perform certain surgical procedures.

To be ABPS board certified, a physician must meet these rigid requirements:

  • Graduate from an accredited medical school
  • Complete a combination of at least five years of general surgery and plastic surgery residency training
  • Pass comprehensive oral and written exams

There’s more to ABPS membership than simple certification. In order to remain in good standing, ABPS also requires a plastic surgeon to regularly attend continuing medical education courses and to adhere to a strict code of ethics.

Dr. Lee is proud of her ABPS certification. At any time, you can verify Dr. Lee is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery by calling the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) at 1-866-275-2267 or, by visiting the ASPS online at