FAQs: Board Certified Surgeons & Breast Augmentation – Breast Implants

Board Certified – What does it mean?

Information in this section was contributed by Joel Studin, M.D. of New York, NY

When you are choosing a plastic surgeon, you are looking for certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In order to be board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, one must graduate from an accredited medical school, do internship and residency training in either general surgery or otolaryngology, complete an approved residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery, practice a minimum of two years after graduation, and pass extensive written and oral exams which include a review of all cases done by that surgeon in the past year. This is an incredibly long and tedious process taking a minimum of 7 1/2 years after graduation from medical school.

The reason for this extensive training is that the plastic surgeon is one of the few medical specialists who is truly called upon to help with every part of the body. From brain surgery, to cleft lip in infants, ear, throat, breast, malformed genitals, injured hands, legs and feet, there is really no body part that plastic surgeons aren't called upon to fix when other surgeons run up against difficult situations. While many people feel that plastic surgeons spend all of their time doing Noses and Liposuction, that is far from the case.

While, in order to be board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a surgeon must be experienced in all of the areas of plastic and reconstructive surgery, many plastic surgeons focus their practices on cosmetic surgery and others on reconstructive surgery. For this reason, it is important to ask about the type of cases that a particular surgeon focuses on.

The American Board of Medical Specialties is one of the established organizations that oversees the process of board certification of physicians. Exploring that site is a good place to start. You may find that your doctor is “board certified” but by a different board (cosmetic surgery, general surgery).

Another good place to explore is the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. To be a member, a surgeon must have completed the above process. This society comprises 97 percent of all plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Many surgeons are also members of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Its members are aesthetic plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery who have met additional educational and professional requirements set forth by ASAPS to maintain the highest standard of practice

Another prestigious organization is the American College of Surgeons. In order to be a Fellow of The American College of Surgeons (FACS), a surgeon must be board certified in his or her specialty, have practiced a minimum of one year after board certification, and passed a review of clinical work, academic work and ethics in running their practice. This is yet another extensive and tedious review of a surgeon's experience and ethics, aimed at assuring a potential patient that the surgeon they have chosen has been well-trained and deemed competent by his or her peers. If the surgeon displays the initials F. A. C. S. after his or her name, that denotes that they have been designated a Fellow of The American College of Surgeons, and completed the above process.

For information on how to check on your surgeon’s credentials, please read everything here.

More on Board Certification

Information in this section was contributed by Dr. Dowden, of Cleveland, OH

  • Every doctor in the US is either certified by one of the recognized medical boards, or is not. There are no grey zones, and that question is not open to opinion or interpretation.
  • Certification by any of the recognized boards is rather difficult to get, involving specific training requirements, practice verification, and examinations.
  • The official records of who has certification is kept in the database of the American Board of Medical Specialties, and is accessible to the public.
  • The only recognized board for Plastic Surgery is named the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
  • There are many pseudo-boards that are not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. These organizations are very attractive to doctors who would like to give the impression that they are board-certified plastic surgeons but are not.
  • There is no law against any doctor leading patients to believe he/she is board certified although he/she is not.
  • Being certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery does not automatically mean that the doctor works miracles, nor that there cannot ever be any complications. There are some legitimately certified doctors who are not very skillful.
  • Inability to get certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery does not automatically mean that the doctor is inept or untrained. There are some uncertified doctors who do good work.
  • Because of the great difficulty in achieving board certification, doctors tend to be proud of that accomplishment, and as reassurance they tend to let patients know about it.
  • Board certification is only one of several criteria that patients need to evaluate when choosing their doctors.

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