Authors Anmol Chattha, MD, et. al, assessed the impact of healthcare transparency acts (also known as truth-in-advertising laws) on the ratio of board-certified and non-board-certified physicians marketing themselves as plastic surgeons. The results were published in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
They performed a systematic Google search for the term "plastic surgeon [city name]" to stimulate a patient search of online providers. The authors made comparisons of board certification status between the top hits for each city. The data gathered included city population, regional location, practice setting and states with the passage of truth-in-advertising laws.
The authors identified 1,677 unique practitioners. Of these, 1,289 practitioners (76.9%) were American Board of Plastic Surgery-certified plastic surgeons. When comparing states with and without truth-in-advertising laws, the authors found no significant differences in board-certified certification rates among "plastic surgery" practitioners (88.9 % versus 92.0%). When comparing board-certified plastic surgeons versus out-of-scope practitioners in large, medium and small cities, the authors found there was a significant difference (100% versus 92.9% versus 86.5%).
In comparing states with truth-in-advertising laws and states without them, the authors found there was no significant difference between how practitioners in these states marketed themselves.