Board Certification in Plastic Surgery
When searching for a plastic surgeon, it has become very difficult to know who is a real plastic surgeon and the experience of that plastic surgeon. One of the main changes that has occurred the past few years is internet marketing. With internet marketing, a person can present themselves to all of the world as someone who they may not be or as someone who has more experience than they actually have.
There are a number of pseudo-boards that make it look like someone is a plastic surgeon. One of these is the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. This is not an actual board as it is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The only certification for plastic surgery is the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The plastic surgeons who are certified by this board, which I am, have to have undergone very specific training and the training is much longer and more involved than in someone who is not a trained plastic surgeon but has done a much shorter course to make themselves look like a plastic surgeon.
What you may see in some of the advertisements for physicians with the so-called American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is that they say their training is much more focused because it is shorter and only involves cosmetic surgery. Of course, this is a falsehood and the entire reason that a board certified plastic surgeon, such as myself, is more important to you is because of the extent of the training that I have done. Training including a residency in general surgery and then a full residency in plastic surgery which for me was two years of plastic surgery. I also did a microsurgery fellowship and a hand surgery fellowship. My total residency training was seven years. If you compare this to someone who is a specialist in another field, such as emergency medicine or gynecology and then they take a short course or a one-year training course to be called a so-called cosmetic surgeon, the training is drastically different. The main advantage is experience and the ability to handle complications should they occur.
Doing cosmetic surgery doesn’t mean that you should not have to know how to handle difficult situations should they arise. That is the main advantage with a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Our extensive training allows us to be able to handle more complex situations and also our training is much more involved with both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.
The other thing that the internet has caused regarding marketing that makes it difficult for patients to understand the training of their plastic surgeon is that instead of the old fashioned method of developing a reputation as a plastic surgery which years ago involved doing good surgery and word of mouth would spread, now someone can hire a marketing company to make them a website that appears to show that they are a plastic surgeon with far more experience than they actually have. This is true not only for other specialties wanting to do plastic surgery but do not have the training but even for plastic surgeons who are new into practice just out of residency.
In the old days, I spent many times in the emergency room taking care of major trauma and also doing a lot of reconstructive work which greatly develops skill and thinking processes as a plastic surgeon. Unfortunately, even though their training in residency is good, a new plastic surgeon out of residency does not have the experience that someone such as I have because of the number of years I have been in practice. For instance, for breast augmentations alone, I have performed surgery on around 5,000 breast augmentation patients. This has allowed me the experience to write two of the most critically important papers in breast augmentation literature, one of which studied the difference in capsular contracture rate between the nipple incision and the incision in the fold beneath the breast and the other paper was the use of a special solution to wash the breast pocket before placement of the implant to reduce capsular contracture. These are two landmark papers that are quoted frequently in the plastic surgery literature.
Therefore, when looking for a plastic surgeon, make sure that number one you look for a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and those are the only words to look for, no other variation. And the second is to ask how many surgeries has the surgeon done for this procedure and how many years have they been in practice?