How to Pick a Plastic Surgeon
A plastic surgeon has trained in a two to three year residency in a plastic surgery program approved by the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS). The ABMS is an organization of 24 approved medical specialty boards. The intent of the ABMS is to provide assurance to the public that those residencies certified by the ABMS have an approved training program and an established certification process assessing ability to provide quality patient care within that specialty.
Step 1. Go to www.abms.org. Click on Member Boards. There are 24 member boards of the ABMS in the United States. Your surgeon should be certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery, which is one of the 24 member boards of the ABMS. If a different board that's on the ABMS list certifies your surgeon, they may be board certified BUT they're not a board-certified plastic surgeon. And if the surgeons supposed board does not even appear on the ABMS list, it is not a recognized board, sometimes referred to in the industry as bogus boards.
After training in an ABMS approved residency training program, a plastic surgeon usually enters practice and begins a 2-3 year process of becoming certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). The mission of The American Board of Plastic Surgery is to promote safe, ethical, efficacious plastic surgery to the public by maintaining high standards for the education, examination and certification of plastic surgeons as specialists.
Step 3. Go to www.plasticsurgery.org. You can also call toll free the American Society of Plastic Surgeons at 1-888-4-PLASTIC. From the web site or from the phone call, you can ask if the surgeon in question is a plastic surgeon and whether or not that surgeon is certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery. If they're not on the certified list by calling 1-888-4-PLASTIC, they're not a board-certified plastic surgeon.
There is also a great deal of useful information at www.plasticsurgery.org. Make sure you go to dot ORG (.org) not dot COM (.com).
Plastic surgery residency approved by the American Board of Medical Specialists Certification by The American Board of Plastic Surgery Membership in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Step 4. Buyer Beware! The Yellow Pages, Newspaper, TV, and Radio perform absolutely no screening of whom they allow to market themselves as plastic surgeons. Anybody can list themselves as a plastic surgeon under that heading in the Yellow Pages and anybody can place an ad in the Newspaper appearing as if they're a plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon. You would think there would be some accountability in the media but there isn't.
Step 5. At your Consultation, it is okay to ask a plastic surgeon how many of a particular procedure they have done. But don't get hung-up on numbers; they're only part of the equation. Ask to see Before and After pictures and be suspicious if there are few if any pictures to show. Make sure the pictures being shown are of that surgeons own work and not some other plastic surgeons results. Also ask for references, that is, the first name and a phone number of patients to call whom have had that operation performed by that surgeon.
Step 6. Hospital Based vs. Office Based Surgery. Be suspicious if a surgeon performs surgery out of their office. Although many good plastic surgeons have an office based operating room, its also a loophole for non-plastic surgeons. In most places in the US, there is absolutely no supervision of office-based surgery. A doctor who was practicing general medicine one week can take a weekend course and start performing liposuction that next week in their office.
With hospital based operating rooms, however, there is a credential process, peer review, and oversight. Hospitals do not allow surgeons to perform procedures in their hospital that's not part of their specialty.
In conclusion, verify if the doctor is certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery by calling 1-888-4-PLASTIC or going to www.plasticsurgery.org. Don't base your decision solely on advertising but solicit referrals from friends or family. Look at Before and After pictures. Call a few patient references. Be leery of office based plastic surgery.