Choosing a Plastic Surgeon: Board Certification
Updated: Feb 10
We have lots of tips to help you choose the right plastic surgeon for you, and first we want to talk about Board Certification and the role it plays in your safety and peace of mind.
First, it’s important to know that not all surgeons are created equal. While every surgeon must (or should) undergo extensive school and training, not all surgeons are specialists in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, board certified, and not all cosmetic surgeons are even trained in plastic surgery.
The Skinny on the Board Certification process for Plastic Surgeons
Board Certification is a voluntary credential and is a rigorous process. Board Certified Plastic Surgeons must complete 5 years of General Surgery training and 6 years of Plastic Surgery training at accredited institutions in order to qualify for the Board Certification exam. Then, the doctor must pass a grueling written and oral examination. Lastly, doctors must continue to participate in annual training and testing in their specialty to maintain Board Certification.
According to certificationmatters.org, “Board Certified doctors demonstrate their desire to practice at the top of their profession and deliver high-quality care to their patients.” It is known as the gold standard for quality care and can actually be quite confusing to verify if you don’t know what to look for.
How to Verify Plastic Surgery Board Certification
For plastic surgery procedures, you will want to verify that your surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. You can verify this certification online by typing in your surgeon’s name. If your surgeon’s name appears on the results list, then he or she is Board Certified in plastic surgery- that’s great news!
But what if their website says “Board Certified” and they do not appear in the results on the ABPS search? This is where it can get tricky. It’s possible that your surgeon is Board Certified, just in a different specialty. In that case, you can use the search function at certificationmatters.org.
Certification Matters is the patient education portion of the American Board of Medical Specialties (or ABMS). The ABMS certifies 24 medical specialty boards and guarantees your surgeon’s knowledge, expertise and training are qualified to be considered Board Certified.
The verification function on their site will search all 24 of the ABMS boards to verify certification. So if your surgeon is board certified in another specialty like Dermatology or Emergency Medicine, you’ll find that information there. There are other self-designated boards in the industry, but the ABMS is the gold standard and offers the highest quality certifications.
What Does it Mean if My Surgeon Is Not Listed?
Unfortunately, there are Cosmetic Surgeons who are performing cosmetic surgeries with no training or certification in the procedures they are performing. This means that you could potentially have your breast augmentation performed by an ER doctor or an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist if you don’t know what questions to ask.
We also recommend asking where your surgeon performs their procedures. Most hospitals require board certification to offer specialty procedures- so to have privileges at a hospital to perform Breast Augmentation, they would require certification by the ABPS- which adds another layer to your safety and peace of mind.
Most Cosmetic Surgeons without proper training and certification perform their procedure in an office-based setting to avoid the “red tape” of not being granted privileges in a hospital setting. According to an article published on the ASPS blog, “Shockingly, there are no laws against a doctor treating someone outside of their board certification.” It’s not illegal for a doctor to perform surgical procedures outside the scope of their training and expertise, so it’s important you know exactly what to ask before scheduling your surgery.
How to Ensure Your Surgeon is Board Certified
Here is a summary of the questions to ask before scheduling a consultation to ensure your surgeon is Board Certified: · Is the doctor Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery? · Verify Board Certification is current on certificationmatters.org and/or the American Board of Plastic Surgery · Verify your surgeon operates at fully accredited hospitals
If your doctor can meet those qualifications, then go ahead and schedule your consultation to determine if the surgeon is a right fit for you! Finding a Board Certified surgeon will give you the peace of mind that you are having the safest possible surgical experience- and that’s priceless!