About Plastic Surgery

About Plastic Surgery

It’s a big decision to have plastic surgery. If you are like most people, you have been thinking about this for quite some time. Maybe you’ve been struggling with the concept of doing something that’s just for you. Then, once you’ve gotten to the point that you are ready to go forward, another big decision comes up: How do I find the right plastic surgeon?

This is one of the most important decisions you can make. Your outcome depends greatly on the skill and thoroughness of your surgeon. And your overall experience depends on the quality of your surgeon’s office staff.

First thing’s first: make sure any doctor you consult is really a plastic surgeon. This sounds pretty elementary, but it can be confusing. Other physicians and dentists advertise themselves in the Yellow Pages as plastic surgeons, but have no formal training in plastic surgery. Most people are amazed at this fact, and ask, “Isn’t there some kind of a law that prevents doctors from performing surgeries they are not trained to perform?” The answer is unfortunately no. The state licenses a physician to practice medicine, but does not limit the doctor to a particular specialty.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the ASPS, is the foremost authority on plastic surgery in the world. This is all you have to remember, four letters: ASPS. The American Board of Plastic Surgery has certified every ASPS member. These surgeons must adhere to a strict code of ethics, and participate in continuing education throughout their careers.

Your best bet in finding the right doctor for you, is to make sure he or she is a board-certified plastic surgeon. It is not enough anymore to just ask a doctor if they are “board-certified”. As straightforward as this may sound, most doctors are board-certified in some medical specialty. But, board-certified by whom, and in what?

Don’t be confused by the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, or other boards mentioning plastic surgery. Be aware that these are self-appointed boards without strict training requirements. The American Board of Medical Specialties does not recognize them, and their members are not board-certified plastic surgeons.

Becoming a board-certified plastic surgeon is not a short, or easy process as you might imagine. After completing four years of medical school, plastic surgeons will have a residency of between 6 and 8 years of training in surgery, and in plastic surgery specifically. After completing residency a plastic surgeon is considered “board eligible.” For them to become “board certified,” comprehensive written and oral exams must be taken, and actual cases performed by the surgeon must be reviewed. At that point, they are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and are true plastic surgeons. But what a bunch of boards and initials! There must be an easier way to find out who’s who. And, in fact, there is.

You, as a patient, benefit from your plastic surgeon’s vast amount of resources, emphasis on patient safety, and networking with the best plastic surgeons in this country, and across the world.

When you choose a doctor who is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS®), you can rest assured your surgeon is qualified to perform your surgery.