Many doctors calling themselves plastic surgeons and their business “Plastic Surgery” never formally trained in plastic surgery, never passed formal examinations in plastic surgery, and never certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. They remain impostors for their entire career. How can this be, and why does it matter? In the United States, any doctor may start a business in any medical specialty, regardless of their formal training, qualifications, and experience. The only venues typically checking and confirming specialty training and qualifications are hospitals and some accredited ambulatory surgery centers. A physician trained in gastroenterology but interested in practicing rheumatology may open an office advertising and performing rheumatology services. Likewise, a doctor trained in any specialty or no specialty at all may advertise themself as a cosmetic surgeon or plastic surgeon and offer plastic surgery services in their office. We offer five reasons why you may want to check that your cosmetic (aesthetic) surgeon is a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery:
- If a doctor is disingenuous about his, her, or their credentials, what else are they hiding from you? Successful relationships between consumers and service professionals are based upon trust. If you choose a non-plastic surgeon for your plastic surgery, that’s OK, but shouldn’t you at least know? Most non-plastic surgeons performing cosmetic surgery are not forthcoming about their certification by a board other than the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
- Doctors certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery hold themselves to the highest standards of performance in the specialty. If your doctor doesn’t have the highest standards for his, her, or their own performance, what do you believe their standards are for the excellence of their service, and for your result? The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the ONLY American Board of Medical Specialties recognized organization that formally trains physicians in aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery. To become a Diplomate (Board Certified) in Plastic Surgery, doctors must complete required pre-requisite qualifications, must train for years in accredited residency and fellowship programs, must successfully pass oral and written certification examinations demonstrating a high level of competence in the entire specialty of plastic surgery, and must prove their clinical knowledge, judgment, and skill is sufficient for independent professional practice. Doctors practicing a specialty they have not been selected for, trained in, or proven themselves competent in by their peers have an alternative motivation to practice that specialty.
- When you choose a real Plastic Surgeon, your doctor is a specialist in both reconstructive and in cosmetic surgery, the two critical inseparable parts of plastic surgery. What many don’t realize is that aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery and reconstructive surgery are IDENTICAL! The only difference between the two are the patients. Reconstructive patients present with an abnormal feature the plastic surgeon evaluates and plans a procedure to restore as closely as possible to normality. Aesthetic (cosmetic) patients present with normal features they wish to improve for more confidence and a better quality of life. Reconstructive surgery is foundational for aesthetic surgical excellence because the reconstructive surgeon understands the normal. Normal appearance, anatomy, and relationships are critically important for quality aesthetic improvements. Surgical techniques incorporated into cosmetic (aesthetic) procedures and into reconstructive procedures are identical. The knowledge required for aesthetic and for reconstructive surgery is identical. Doctors calling themselves cosmetic surgeons or plastic surgeons who are not Diplomates of the American Board of Plastic Surgery do not have the depth of insight that is the domain of the professionally trained reconstructive surgeon.
- Plastic Surgeon professional societies (American Society of Plastic Surgeons and American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) are powerful consumer protection organizations that mandate all members’ practice in accordance with their code of ethical conduct and require that members operate only in accredited facilities. This adds a measure of oversight and safety that non-plastic surgeons are not subject to, and may not comply with.
- Doctors calling themselves “Facial Plastic Surgeons” are not plastic surgeons at all, but generally otorhinolaryngologists or trained in another specialty that limits their breadth of knowledge, skill, understanding, and commitment to excellence in aesthetic surgery. If your doctor only operates on the face, your doctor is not likely a plastic surgeon. Many non-plastic surgeons perform cosmetic surgery of face, breast, and body, and are equally untrained and unproven in each of these areas. To achieve excellence at every level in facial aesthetic surgery, a profound experience in care of the entire body is fundamental. The face is controlled by the brain, perfused by the heart, supported by the skeleton, and functions as entryway for both respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. Expertise in skin, fat, muscle, cartilage, bone, and connective tissue are foundational for aesthetic rejuvenation, as are the aesthetic concepts of proportion and beauty. A true understanding of tissue molding, forming, reduction, augmentation, and rearrangement demands the widest experience in all areas of the body, in reconstructive and in aesthetic procedures. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only organization certifying physicians in aesthetic surgery of the face, breasts, and body, and excellence of diplomates in all of these areas is tested and proven.