Choosing Your Plastic Surgeon

Credentials: Why Select a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon?

  • Plastic surgeons are trained to perform surgery. It may sound obvious, but many people don’t realize that only some of the 24 medical specialties recognized by The American Board of Medical Specialties include surgical training. Plastic surgery is a surgical specialty.
  • Plastic surgeons are experts in both facial and body procedures. Board-certified plastic surgeons complete a minimum of five years of surgical training following medical school, including a plastic surgery residency program. In-depth training encompasses surgical procedures of the face and the entire body.
  • Plastic surgeons are trained to prevent and, if necessary, handle emergencies. A comprehensive education, including a sound foundation in anatomy and physiology, provides plastic surgeons with an understanding of all body systems-including ventilation, circulation, fluid and electrolyte balance-which is vitally important to patient safety.
  • Plastic surgeons’ training develops technical skill and aesthetic judgment. Experience gained during years of training in complex reconstructive surgery provides plastic surgeons with outstanding technical skills. Additionally, however, the continuous attention to form as well as function provides these specialists with a finely tuned sense of aesthetics-a unique qualification that is critical to the success of cosmetic surgery where judgments of balance and proportion are called upon.
  • Plastic surgeons have access to a wide range of potential treatments. Of all the different medical specialists, plastic surgeons have the training to offer their patients the entire scope of cosmetic treatment modalities. Their recommendations are not limited by lack of training or inability to obtain hospital privileges to perform complex procedures when necessary.

Because state laws permit any licensed physician to call him – or herself a “plastic” or “cosmetic” surgeon – even if he or she has not been trained as a plastic surgeon or has had no surgical training at all – prospective patients must select their doctor carefully.

Credentials: Training and Certification of Plastic Surgeons

Often portrayed as a “turf battle,” the issue of training and credentials in plastic surgery is actually an issue of public safety about which responsible doctors are necessarily concerned. Would you want your plastic surgery performed by someone who has never had any formal surgical training? It can easily happen …

  • There are many physicians today practicing plastic surgery who have received their formal training in another specialty — often a non-surgical specialty. These doctors may call themselves plastic surgeons, but they may not be trained in plastic surgery.
  • Some physicians without plastic surgery training, as well as trained and qualified plastic surgeons, perform cosmetic surgery in their offices. The difference is that a board-certified plastic surgeon will also have privileges to perform these procedures at an accredited hospital.
  • When we talk about a “board-certified plastic surgeon,” we mean one who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to certify physicians in the full range of plastic and reconstructive procedures. To be certified by the ABPS, a physician must have at least five years of approved surgical training, including a residency in plastic surgery. He or she must also pass a comprehensive written and oral exams in plastic surgery.
  • Many physicians who call themselves “facial plastic surgeons” are trained in otolaryngology, a surgical specialty which includes training in plastic surgery of the head and neck. Physicians who call themselves “cosmetic surgeons” could be trained in any specialty, including a non-surgical specialty, because anyone who has a medical license can legally call him/herself a surgeon even if they have no formal surgical training.
  • Membership in the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery is by invitation only and is limited to ABPS-certified surgeons who demonstrate wide experience in the major aesthetic surgical procedures.

Many health care providers are now performing plastic surgery procedures, but that doesn’t mean they’re all qualified to perform plastic surgery. ASPS Member Surgeons are trained in cosmetic and reconstructive procedures of all types.

Members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The ABPS is approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties to certify physicians in plastic surgery of the face and all areas of the body.

When you choose an ASPS Member Surgeon you know your surgeon:

  • Has at least 6 years of training and experience in surgery, with 3 years specifically in plastic surgery
  • Is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery
  • Operates only in accredited medical facilities
  • Adheres to a strict code of ethics
  • Fulfills continuing education requirements, including patient safety techniques
  • Will be your partner, working to achieve your goals

To make sure your surgeon has these outstanding qualifications, look for the ASPS Member Surgeon symbol.

ASPS Member

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