Plastic Surgeons - What to Look for in an Experienced Doctor

Posted November 25, 2020
What to look for in experienced plastic surgeon

The search for the right, and best, plastic surgeon for a procedure can be a confusing and overwhelming process. Patients often are unaware of the training, expertise and qualifications necessary for doctors to be qualified and board-certified to perform plastic surgery in the United States. This lack of necessary knowledge was discussed in a recent study that was published in the November issue of the medical journal, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The study was conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Let’s take a look at the study results as well as learn the training and expertise milestones patients need to look for when they are researching the qualifications of plastic surgeons.

American Society of Plastic Surgeons Study Results

Plastic surgeon researchIn the study results reported in the journal, it was shown that many patients are not fully aware of the difference between the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. The main difference is that the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery requires less training and less qualifications in order for a doctor to obtain the desired certification.

The research team for the study reviewed the medical training backgrounds of doctors that advertise themselves as being certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS). It should be noted that this certification is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

During the study, the research team looked at the residency training history of 342 doctors that are certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. They also examined the advertised scope of practice for these physicians. According to the researchers, “Our review of ABCS diplomate training backgrounds revealed nearly ten percent of ABCS members were not even trained in a surgical discipline.”

In addition, the survey results showed that many “cosmetic surgeons” were practicing cosmetic procedures that fell beyond the regular scope or specialty of their medical practice. Some of the cosmetic procedures that were being performed “out of scope” included breast augmentation, liposuction, tummy tuck and butt augmentation. In other words, these examples of “out of scope” medical procedures were being performed by doctors that lacked the proper medical training.

The research team provided some known examples of “out of scope” procedures performed by doctors and they included:

  • A facial plastic surgeon that performs a surgical procedure that is located below the neck
  • A pediatrician, OBGYN or internal medicine doctor performing an aesthetic surgery
  • A dermatologist that performs a surgical procedure that does not involve a skin lesion or Mohs surgery (which is a very precise surgical technique that is performed to treat skin cancer)
  • A general surgeon that performs any type of cosmetic body or face surgery

The coauthors of the study wrote, “When selecting an aesthetic surgeon, many patients place their trust in knowing their surgeon is a ‘board-certified’ plastic surgeon. Many patients falsely assume all surgeons must be board-certified in order to perform cosmetic procedures.”

Plastic Surgeons – Training Differences between Medical Boards

In order to get a better idea about the differences that medical boards have regarding their training requirements, it is important to take an in-depth look at the requirements of the boards on an individual basis.

In order to be an ABMS board-certified plastic surgeon, the physician will need to have completed at least six years of surgical training. In addition, the doctor must perform thousands of multiple types of reconstructive and cosmetic surgical procedures. The physician must pass extensive oral and written exams. The doctor must also make a commitment to practice ongoing education efforts about medical procedures throughout the course of his, or her, medical career.

On the other hand, the study showed that receiving board-certification from the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery only requires one year of surgical training. The doctor will only need to be able to perform 300 procedures. The physician only needs to pass one oral exam and one written exam during a single weekend. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery also does not require any type of continuing medical education on the part of the doctor.

Be Careful when Selecting a Plastic Surgeon

A patient that is interested in undergoing a plastic surgery procedure should make sure that the plastic surgeon of choice has the proper training and experience in performing the procedure. If the doctor is board-certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties, the patient can be confident that the surgeon has an extensive amount of medical background and training.

Once the patient has a particular doctor in mind to perform the cosmetic procedure, the person should schedule a consultation appointment with the physician. The doctor will need to examine the patient to make sure the person is healthy enough to have plastic surgery. In addition, the surgeon will discuss the desired procedure with the patient to make sure the person is having the cosmetic surgery because of their own choice and not to make someone else happy.



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