Not All Board Certifications Are Created Equal

You may be surprised to find out that not all surgeons who advertise themselves as a “board certified” have the same level of training. A board-certified plastic surgeon, certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), has completed years of hands-on training by experts in the field and demonstrated mastery of their specialty through oral and written examinations.  At the completion of their training, they will have performed hundreds of surgeries like the one you are considering. Additionally, some board certifications can be bought while others are earned. Those who earn the board certifications are truly trained in the field, as opposed to those who are not truly trained but advertise as “Board Certified”. Taking the time to check and verify a board membership is definitely worth the effort and will help ensure that the doctor meets at least a minimum expertise.

What does it mean to be “board certified,” and is it really that important?

Once physicians complete medical school, they embark on a residency program in the specialty of their choosing. Residency programs consist of multiple years of hands-on training during which the physicians are guided by experts in the specialty with extensive experience.  After completion of these years of training, the residents are then eligible to take a rigorous examination that allows them to demonstrate their expertise in their chosen specialty.  Only after they have completed the years of hands-on training and passed their exams are doctors then able to advertise themselves as “board certified” in their chosen specialty. Additionally, to maintain their board certification, surgeons must engage in continuing education activities, so you know that they are constantly learning and improving in their practice.

The bigger organization that accredits and oversees the individual specialty organizations is the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).  The ABMS determines which programs are of sufficient rigor to guarantee proficiency in a particular specialty.  For patients considering cosmetic surgeries, the only ABMS-recognized board certification is American Board of Plastic Surgery. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is not recognized by the American Board of of Medical Specialties.

So, what does this mean for you? If your physician is not “board certified,”by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, there is no guarantee that they have completed extensive hands-on training in their field or have been able to demonstrate proficiency in the requirements of their specialty.  The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is not American Board of of Medical Specialties recognized. In fact, in many states, physicians who have not completed a residency at all can practice medicine, even performing cosmetic procedures.  But do you want a “cosmetic surgeon” who has not had years of hands-on guidance and demonstrated mastery to perform surgery on you? Unlikely. But, unfortunately, not all patients are knowledgeable about accrediting organizations, and some doctors are happy to take advantage of this.

So how do I know if my plastic surgeon is really board-certified?

Fortunately, there are a couple of questions you can ask to protect yourself:

  • Ask your physician about their board certification. For cosmetic surgery, you want an American Board of Plastic Surgery board-certified surgeon. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
  • Ask the doctor if they have privileges at the local hospitals should you have complications from your procedure. While most procedures are performed in stand-alone surgery centers or even in the office, your surgeon should be able to treat you if you were to be admitted to a local hospital with complications.  Physicians who are not board-certified are not given hospital privileges and would be unable to treat you.

When you are considering plastic surgery, don’t risk your health and aesthetic outcome to a surgeon who doesn’t have the highest level of training! Call 540.371.7730 to schedule your personal consultation today, and know that you will be treated by experts!










The Importance of Properly Vetting Your Surgeon

Cosmetic surgery is surgery, which does carry some risks.  If you choose a surgeon that isn’t skilled in performing a specific procedure, you may not achieve the optimal results you were hoping for. Luckily, much of this risk can be reduced by choosing the right surgeon and by properly vetting them before surgery.

How do you properly vet a surgeon before your procedure? Here are a few key things to look for:

Board Certification

Is your surgeon a board certified plastic surgeon or just a doctor doing cosmetic surgery? Board certified plastic surgeons are some of the best in the business. They have specialized training in plastic surgery and have proven their skills and knowledge through examination. Anyone can offer cosmetic surgeries, but for the best results, you want a board certified plastic surgeon. Check to see if your potential surgeons are members of the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Another place to check is the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Only board certified plastic surgeons can join this elite group of surgeons. See if your surgeon is a member here.

Other boards and groups may sound similar, but don’t let them confuse you. These two organizations are the gold standard for plastic surgeons.

Hospital Affiliation

Many plastic surgeons perform surgeries in an out of hospital setting. This can be perfectly safe (look for an accredited surgery center), but doesn’t mean that your surgeon shouldn’t have hospital privileges as well.

Online Reviews

Online reviews can paint a picture of your surgeon you might not see by just asking questions at their office. It can give you an idea of what to expect and how former patients felt after their surgery. Remember, one bad review doesn’t mean that a surgeon shouldn’t be trusted, but a pattern of negative reviews is something you might find concerning.

Past Work

Plastic surgery is an art form and each surgeon does things a little differently. Ask to see photos of your surgeon’s past work, especially in the type of surgery you’re considering. If you like what you see, odds are good you’ll like your results. If the surgeon’s style isn’t what you’re looking for, keep looking for someone else.

Before signing up for plastic surgery, take time to learn more about your surgeon. The single most important decision you’ll make during the surgical process is choosing a surgeon, so choose wisely.

Call 540-371-7730 to learn more about our physicians and to schedule a complimentary cosmetic consultation.

7 Potentially Life Saving Questions to Ask Your Plastic Surgeon

Plastic surgery can be a safe way to enhance your natural beauty, but when it comes down to it, it is still surgery. For the safest possible experience and the best results, choose your surgeon carefully. Make sure you have someone with the right training and skills for your procedure. Yes, you might save some money by choosing an uncertified, bargain provider, but is saving a few dollars worth risking potential complications? These important questions will help you narrow down the candidates to find the best choice for your next plastic surgery procedure.

What Education and Training Do You Have?

Anyone can put on a white coat; you need a plastic surgeon with the right training. Ask about their educational background. Where did they train? How long have they been working in the field? What specialized training have they received? In most states any doctor can perform cosmetic surgery, even if they don’t have surgical training; choose a provider that specifically trained as a plastic surgeon.

Are You Board Certified in Plastic Surgery?

Choose a board certified plastic surgeon. If a doctor mentions they are board certified, ask them in which specialty. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons offers a helpful Find a Plastic Surgeon tool that you can use to find qualified providers in your area. Both Drs. Heppe and Bautista are board certified plastic surgeons and members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

What Are Your Hospital Affiliations?

Even if you’re planning on having your surgical procedure performed in an office based surgical facility, you’ll want to choose a surgeon that has hospital privileges to perform this specific procedure. Accredited hospitals review the surgeon’s skills and performance before granting privileges. Be sure to ask about the specific procedure you’re considering.

Can I See Photos of Your Work?

If you’re considering liposuction, ask to see photos of this particular surgeon’s liposuction work. The same applies to any procedure you may be considering. Also ask about how many times the surgeon has performed the specific procedure or technique you are considering.

Where Will You Perform My Procedure?

Many plastic surgeons now perform surgeries in an office based surgical setting. If you’ll be receiving treatment out of hospital, ask about the accreditation of the facility. The American Association for the Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) reviews the safety of independent surgical facilities.

What Are the Risks Associated with this Procedure?

Plastic surgery can be very safe, but it does carry risks. Make sure you understand the risks and potential benefits of any procedure you are considering. You may also want to ask about expected recovery and down times.

What Results Can I Expect from this Procedure?

No two bodies are the same. While a surgeon may show you beautiful photos of their past work, you’ll want to find out what results you can expect, specific to your body type and situation.

If you’re looking for board certified plastic surgeons in the Fredericksburg area, come on in to Plastic Surgery Services of Fredericksburg. We understand the importance of certification and encourage potential patients to ask questions about our qualifications.