Unfortunately, there are physicians calling themselves “plastic surgeons” even though they have not had formal training as a surgeon.
Only a fully trained plastic surgeon who has also been officially certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)is recognized by the medical community as “board certified”. The ABPS is the only board authorized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to certify physicians in the full range of plastic surgery – including all cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. The ABMS oversees the board certification of all the physicians in the United States such as obstetricians, neurosurgeons and cardiothoracic surgeons. To become an ABPS board certified plastic surgeon, medical school graduates must first compete to be accepted into an approved surgical training program, including a special residency in plastic surgery. They must then successfully complete this training process which ranges from 5-10 years. Following that, they must pass comprehensive written and oral exams in plastic surgery over a two year period.
Physicians who are trained in plastic surgery and board-certified by the ABPS will choose to perform cosmetic surgery procedures in surgicenters, hospitals or in their offices depending on what they decide is most appropriate for a given procedure or patient. However, only board certified plastic surgeons will have hospital privileges at accredited hospitals. You should ask about – and check on – your plastic surgeon’s credentials and hospital privileges before undergoing any treatment or surgery.
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) maintains a special website which allows patients to verify any doctor’s ABPS certification status – www.certificationmatters.org