How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon
A few years ago, the state of California passed a law requiring all physicians advertising Board Certification to explicitly state the Board they are certified by. The goal was to allow consumers to identify the training of their doctors, and to avoid confusion.
Terms that Sound Like Plastic Surgeon
The intentions were good; however, there is no area with more Board Envy and confusion than the American Board of Plastic Surgery. As the popularity of Plastic Surgery has risen, more and more sound-a-like Boards have formed, and honestly, some of them even sound better than plain-old Plastic Surgery.
But a better sounding name is not the same as a better trained doctor, and no Board provides better training in Plastic Surgery than the American Board of plain-old Plastic Surgery.
Better Than Plastic Surgery
It may seem a no brainer that no Board provides better training in Plastic Surgery than the American Board of Plastic Surgery; however, some non-ABMS boards claim, without merit, that they have more specific training. They refer to Board Certified Plastic Surgeons as General Plastic Surgeons, and refer to themselves as sub-specialists. If you hear these claims, buyer beware.
What Does Board Certification Mean?
Board Certification means that your doctor has taken the appropriate training for their Board. It means they have passed written and oral exams, administered by doctors who are experts in the specialty. Today, this certification needs to maintained on a yearly basis with periodic re-examination.
The new buzz word is not just Board Certification, but Maintenance of Certification or MOC. The logo for this, seen at the top of this post, can only be used by Board Certified Doctors who continue participation in their Board’s MOC program. I am proud to maintain Board Certification in two ABMS Boards: The American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery.
ABMS Recognized Boards
Determining if your doctor is certified by an ABMS Board is simple. You can go to the ABMS site and check (links are provided at the bottom of this post.). Any Board not specifically listed below is not an real ABMS certified Board.
Here is a listing of all ABMS recognized boards with links:
- The American Board of Allergy and Immunology
- The American Board of Anesthesiology
- The American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery
- The American Board of Dermatology
- The American Board of Emergency Medicine
- The American Board of Family Medicine
- The American Board of Internal Medicine
- The American Board of Medical Genetics
- The American Board of Neurological Surgery
- The American Board of Nuclear Medicine
- The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology
- The American Board of Ophthalmology
- The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
- The American Board of Otolarynology
- The American Board of Pathology
- The American Board of Pediatrics
- The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
- The American Board of Plastic Surgery
- The American Board of Preventive Medicine
- The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
- The American Board of Radiology
- The American Board of Surgery
- The American Board of Thoracic Surgery
- The American Board of Urology
The American Board of Medical Subspecialties (ABMS)
Any group can create a Board. I could create the American Board of Breast Augmentation. I could define my own criteria for “Board Certification,” and accept anyone who meets my criteria, without any outside supervision. This type of Board is suspect, I prefer a Board that opens itself up to outside scrutiny.
Continuity and accountability within US Medical Boards is provided by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). For over 75 years the ABMS has provided responsible oversight for the certification of all physicians. It is the only recognized Certifying Body for Medical Specialty Board Certification in the United States.
The ABMS provides valuable resources for consumers and physicians alike, including a free online search that lets you check if you doctor is certified by a recognized board. To check your doctor click here -> Is Your Doctor Certified?
The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)
The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) also maintains a free online search. If you are considering Plastic Surgery, check if your doctor is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. To check if your doctor is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, click here -> Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Plastic Surgery Professional Societies
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) require current ABMS Board Certification for membership. They also require that all members operate in only Certified Centers and adhere to a strict Code of Ethics. I am a proud active member of both these world renowned plastic surgery societies.
For more about my training click “Meet Doctor Mele” here or at the top of any San Francisco Plastic Surgery Blog page. Click here for more about my -> American Board of Plastic Surgery Maintenance of Certification.