In all of our advertising and throughout various blogs and answers to plastic surgical questions online, you see the disclaimer to make sure the surgeon you choose is properly trained to do the surgery you are seeking; “go to a board certified plastic surgeon” is the advice given. But, how do you know if they are Board Certified in Plastic Surgery?
Unfortunately, not everyone understand what this means or why it is so important. A surgeon calling him/herself a ‘Cosmetic Surgeon’ may not have any plastic surgical training or in fact, any surgical training at all. There is no legal requirement or criteria to claim that title (and there is no ‘Board of Cosmetic Surgery’ monitoring the qualifications of those physicians). Often times if you look closer into the credentials of a self-proclaimed ‘Cosmetic Surgeon’ you will find that they were actually trained in an unrelated field such as Dermatology, Emergency Medicine or even Family Medicine. While they all may be good or experienced physicians in their field, they do not have the training specifically in Plastic Surgery to safely perform complex plastic surgical procedures or handle the possible complications that can occur from those surgeries.
To become a Plastic Surgeon requires years of supervised training in a nationally recognized plastic surgical residency program. After that is completed, it is necessary to pass rigorous testing – both scholastically and clinically in order to achieve the title of Board Certification. This ensures the highest quality of training and experience, which will give you the best chance of having a pleasant and successful plastic surgical experience.
Beware of the vague references to Board Certification if the surgeon’s website or information does not list WHAT he/she is Board Certified in. There are many different specialties that offer Board Certification. Again, the surgeon in question may be highly trained and Board Certified in ‘Vascular Surgery’ or ‘Cardiology’, but have no true training in plastics. If you are uncertain if a doctor is qualified and Board Certified to perform plastic surgery, you can look them up on the American Board of Plastic Surgeons website. This website also identifies if they are participating in Maintenance of Certification (MOC), which is an important part of keeping up-to-date on the constant changes within the field.
All of these certifications and criteria are in place to ensure quality of care and to keep you….the patient….safe and healthy!