BACKGROUND:: The field of plastic surgery has been at the forefront of ideation and innovation. Surgeon scientists today continue to develop novel products that fulfill the needs of the medical community and patients. Part of this process requires the approval from various regulatory agencies and offices, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Unfortunately, medical training does not include regulatory knowledge, and many surgeon scientists find the regulatory pathway and U.S. Food and Drug Administration perplexing, overly complicated, and insurmountable. The authors aim to clearly outline the path of the regulatory process as it pertains to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and its various jurisdictions that may relate to the plastic surgeon. METHODS:: The authors aim to demystify the classification system, 510(k), and Premarket Approval processes for devices; clarify the Investigational New Drug and New Drug Application requirements for drugs; and explain how human cells, tissues, and cellular or tissue-based products are classified and approvals obtained. RESULTS:: The structure of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, its offices, and their roles are delineated, and the complex process of obtaining approval to market devices, drugs, biologics, and combination products is explained in a manner that is broadly useful to innovators whether new or experienced. CONCLUSION:: The authors provide information for innovators and inventors developing promising technologies to be more knowledgeable and motivated to embrace the process in a fashion that will potentially save time and errors in U.S. Food and Drug Administration submissions.
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