Board certification is something that many patients look for when selecting a medical professional. The term “board-certified” is widely-recognized, but you may be wondering what is actually entailed in board certification, and whether a certified plastic surgeon is always more qualified than one who has not achieved that designation. Here’s the skinny on board certification when it comes to cosmetic and plastic surgery.
First, medical licensure and board certification are not the same. A medical license is required, by law, to practice medicine in the United States. Surgeons must have full licensure before applying for board certification, but board certification is a voluntary option.
As a good example, the American Board of Surgery (ABS) is an independent, non-profit organization that awards certification to those who pass a 300-question qualifying examination. According to the ABS, surgeons applying for the certification must have completed their five-year residency and have nearly one full year (48 weeks) of full-time surgical experience. In addition, the surgeon must have participated in 750 procedures, including assistantships, and have completed a number of training programs. Similar standards exist in more specific areas of surgery, such as those implemented by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the American Board of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.
Board certification is a clear indicator of your surgeon’s commitment to their profession, and serves as evidence of his or her experience and knowledge in the field. A surgeon may not be certified if they have recently finished residency and have yet to complete the 48 weeks of full-time experience; are undergoing the application and study process; are retaking the examination; or have never applied for certification. Many younger surgeons will be in the process of preparing for the examination. This doesn’t necessarily make them less capable of completing your procedure successfully, but it is certainly a factor to consider.
When choosing a plastic surgeon, it is generally a good rule of thumb to look for at least one board certification in surgery. Some surgeons may call themselves board-certified, even if their certification is in a somewhat unrelated field (such as psychology), so make sure you’re aware of that actual organization involved.
Plastic Surgery Portal provides you with a reliable list of board-certified plastic surgeons, nationwide, who have passed the rigorous requirements set forth by the ABS, ABPS, ABAPS, or ABCS. To find a board-certified surgeon in your area, browse our online doctor directory or contact us directly to schedule a consultation.