What Board Certification Means

As a board-certified plastic surgeon, I understand firsthand how much training and education is required to achieve this honor. A surgeon who has earned board-certification has specialized training in plastic and reconstructive surgery and has completed:

  • 4 years of undergraduate education
  • Medical school
  • A written qualifying exam
  • An oral certifying exam
  • Ongoing continuing medical education requirements
  • Periodic re-certification to ensure up to date knowledge
  • 6-8 years of additional training as a resident surgeon
  • At least 3 of those 6-8 years focusing exclusively on plastic and reconstructive surgery

By contrast, plastic or cosmetic surgeons who are not board-certified in plastic surgery may end their training after a one-year internship after medical school. Many patients are surprised to learn that any doctor can advertise him or herself as a plastic surgeon with absolutely no training or expertise in plastic surgery. Some doctors with training in an unrelated specialty pass themselves off as plastic surgeons who are board-certified – but they are not plastic surgeons board-certified in plastic surgery!

Why It Matters

Board-certification is the single most important qualification your plastic surgeon can have. This education and hands-on experience provides your surgeon with the knowledge and skill to perform your procedure safely. It also gives you the best chance for the most optimal cosmetic result. Unfortunately, many doctors and cosmetic surgeons have little or no training in plastic surgery procedures – yet they can legally perform plastic surgery. Patients are encouraged to be vigilant is checking a doctor’s credentials.

Benefits to You

Choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon benefits you in many ways, including:

  • Providing you with a safer procedure
  • Offering a better result
  • Giving you peace of mind
  • Promoting an exceptional experience

How to Choose a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

Selecting the right plastic surgeon takes time and shouldn’t be rushed. After focusing your list on only board-certified plastic surgeons, you can refine your search by looking for the following:

Years of experience
Find a physician who has a long, proven history of good surgical outcomes. You should also look for someone who frequently performs the procedure you are interested in, and has for several years.

Professional memberships or affiliations
Memberships in reputable organizations such as the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery or the American Society of Plastic Surgeons are a good indicator that you are choosing a quality surgeon. That’s because these organizations require physicians adhere to high standards of training, ethics, practice, and research in plastic surgery.

Online reviews or word-of-mouth referrals
Online reviews can be very helpful in finding out about a plastic surgeon’s bedside manner. Likewise, good old-fashioned word-of-mouth referrals from friends or family members are also valuable in helping you narrow your search.

Before-and-after photo galleries
When a physician showcases their work online, it shows that they are transparent, honest, and proud of their work. It can also help you get a feel for their level of skill and the results you can expect to achieve when viewing their galleries.

A Note about Bargain Shopping

Cosmetic plastic surgery is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly. As such, it’s important to understand that you often get what you pay for.

Compromising quality to cut costs can put your health at stake as well as give you a bad cosmetic result. When this happens, you may end up needing another costly revision surgery – or worse, the botched procedure isn’t fixable. You want the best when it comes to your body, your health, and your appearance. By choosing a qualified, reputable board-certified plastic surgeon, you’re investing in yourself. This gives you the best chance for a safe, rewarding experience.