The Importance of Board Certification

Jeffrey W. Hall, MD
Article by
Austin Plastic Surgeon

The popularity of plastic surgery is higher than ever before. With so many more options both surgical and non-surgical available to patients, the possibilities of what plastic surgery can do are virtually endless. Due to this recent change in the spectrum of care and treatment available, it is important for patients to choose their surgeon and treatment facility with care. Any licensed physician can call himself or herself a cosmetic surgeon, but not all are properly trained and licensed to perform cosmetic procedures.

Start by choosing a board certified plastic surgeon who is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® (ASPS) when considering any cosmetic procedure. ASPS was founded in 1931 and is the largest plastic surgery organization in the world. Member surgeons are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the only board dedicated to plastic surgery of the face and body. Unlike other specialty organizations, ASPS requires each member surgeon to have a minimum of five years of surgical training, with at least two of those years specifically in plastic surgery. ASPS members adhere to a strict code of ethics and only operate in accredited medical facilities. It is the highest standard of excellence for the plastic surgery community and immediately signifies that your plastic surgeon has completed the proper training to perform most cosmetic procedures.

It is also important to understand the consultation process when choosing a surgeon. Your plastic surgeon should answer all of your questions thoroughly and ask about your thoughts on the recommended course of treatment. He or she should make clear the risks of surgery, possible outcomes with the procedure as well as costs and payment policies. Any questions about the surgeon’s professional qualifications and experience should be welcomed. This is a relationship being built between you and the surgeon, questions are natural. When in doubt, remember to always ask the following questions of your potential surgeon:

  • Are you an ASPS Member Surgeon? How many years have you been a member?
  • Do you have hospital privileges to perform this procedure? If so, at which hospitals?
  • Is the surgical facility accredited?
  • How many procedures of this type have you performed?

And remember, it's important to talk to your surgeon about your goals and your treatment. Feel confident asking about your doctor's credentials, experience, outcomes and safety record. It is your body, your safety and your life. Be sure to ask the following of your surgeon during the consultation process:

  • Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
  • What will be expected of me to get optimal results?
  • What are the risks involved with my procedure?
  • How long of a recovery period can I expect and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
  • Will I need to take time off work? If so, how long?

Follow these simple guidelines during your consultation and surgical process, and you can be much more confident in achieving a successful outcome. Not all plastic surgeons are equal, and it’s very important to pick the right surgeon who makes you feel comfortable AND has the training to perform your surgery with the utmost care.