When you are searching for plastic surgeon to perform anything from facial filler, Botox injections or cosmetic procedures such as a tummy tuck, how do you know if your plastic surgeon is the real deal? That is, are they board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Interestingly enough, patients don’t realize that nothing prohibits any physician from performing these cosmetic procedures and in fact there is also no law that states that they cannot call themselves plastic surgeons. So how can we be certain we are choosing a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and why is it important?
The American Board of Medical Specialties is a governing body linked to higher education and collegial institutes or schools of medicine. They are the authorities in the United States whereby different medical specialties receive their certifications.
The American Board of Medical Specialties oversees the education and certification process the examinations and evaluation of clinical skills. Therefore the plastic surgeon who is board-certified through the American Board of Plastic Surgery (a division of the American Board of Medical Specialties) undergoes rigorous training for 6 to 9 years after graduating medical school.
This training is overseen by the American Board of Plastic Surgery to make sure that the proper skills and safety measures are instilled within this plastic surgeon before graduating.
By the time the plastic surgeon has graduated they have usually performed hundreds of plastic surgery cases. Once the Plastic Surgery resident has graduated from training, he or she becomes board eligible by the American Board of Plastic Surgery as long as they have trained in a facility that is approved by the American Board of medical specialties. The board eligible plastic surgeon then undergoes more examinations for another two years on average while they are in their practice, writing exams and collecting cases for scrutinization by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
The first stage is a written exam to test the knowledge of the young plastic surgeon. The final stage is a very involved, 2-3 day oral examination in front of a group of senior board-certified plastic surgeons.
A young plastic surgeon has to sit two sessions of unknown standardized cases in front of a board of judges and answer questions in order to provide insight into their competence. And one of the sessions, the judges also look at some of the young plastic surgeons own cases in their own practice and they scrutinize them for ability, capability of dealing with complications, and ethics in practice and in billing. If they pass both the written examination and oral examination stages then they are offered the title of “Diplomat of the American Board of Plastic Surgery” and can call themselves a board certified plastic surgeon through the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
So you see board certification matters because the plastic surgeon has to go through rigorous training in a certified collegiate educational facility and then go through the certification process of examinations. The American Board of Plastic Surgery and The American Society of Plastic Surgeons continues to guide and watch over our board certified plastic surgeons throughout their career evaluating their competence level and ethics required to remain board certified.
What is the difference between cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery?
I also get this question all the time. Plastic surgery refers and encompasses to all types of surgery where form and function is restored. It includes reconstructive surgery such as a cleft lip and palate but also includes cosmetic surgery refers and encompasses to all types of surgery where form and function is restored. It includes reconstructive surgery such as a cleft lip and palate but also includes cosmetic surgery such as a breast augmentation or tummy tuck.
Cosmetic surgery is used to describe only the types of insurance that are usually not covered by insurance such as facelifts, breast augmentation and tummy tuck. Many surgeons who are not board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery call themselves cosmetic surgeons. If you look on the Internet you will see if you search that some of the surgeons are general surgeons, gynecologists, internal medical doctors etc. Some of them also belong to a board called the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. This board is not part of the American Board of Medical Specialties.
Whether this is important for you only you can be the judge. However, if you’re looking to undergo a procedure by a board-certified plastic surgeon by the American Board of Plastic Surgery look for any one of these symbols:
You can also search on the The American Board of Plastic Surgery website at https://www.certificationmatters.org/is-your-doctor-board-certified/search-now.aspx
In summary, if you want to be sure that you are being treated by a board-certified plastic surgeon by the American Board of Plastic Surgery take the following steps:
- Look for the board certification symbol and you can ask them to see their certificate from The American Board of Plastic Surgery
- Ask them if they have privileges to perform breast augmentation, liposuction, tummy tuck etc. at an accredited hospital or ambulatory surgery center in your area.
For instance, we here at capital area plastic surgery with Dr. Dimitri Koumanis perform surgical cosmetic procedures in our office based surgery building but he also has privileges to perform any type of cosmetic surgery at Albany Medical Center, Ellis hospital, Saratoga Hospital, Glens Falls Ellis hospital, Saratoga Hospital, Glens Falls Hospital and St. Peter’s Hospital.