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How Do I Know if my Doctor is Board Certified?

My doctor is a member of the "American Society of Lipo-Suction Surgery" as well as an "American Association of Cosmetic School" associate. Does this mean he is board certified? I am having tumescent liposuction done this Friday and am just wondering...

Doctor Answers 27

How To KNOW If Your Doctor is Board Certified

Your physician or surgeon should always be Board Certified in a specialty recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialites, (the ABMS). There are a number of 'specialities' operating in the world of medicine who create their own 'board certification' in ares that are not recognized by the ABMS. There is a *BIG difference* and, unfortunately, the general public is not aware of the difference.

Specialties that are officially recognized by the ABMS have comprehensive residency programs with very strict criteria. Strong residency programs ensure that your physician is prepared to deal with complications, should they arise. Check the web site to find out if your doctor's specialty is listed! Learn more about this little known fact by watching the video and/or reading about it in my blog post (listed in the web reference).

Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Medical board certification and american board of medical specialties

The "American Society of Lipo-Suction Surgery" and "American Association of Cosmetic School Associate"  does not mean a physician is board certified.   Medical board certification is only awarded to a physician who has competed a several years long residency training program at an approved medical center and who has passed a rigorous examination process.  The American Board of Medical Specialties is the only organization in the United States that may grant this type of certification.   The ABMS can be found on the internet.

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

To find out if your doc is board certified, just ask him/her. Most are proud to tell you.

Board certification is important in any field of medicine. Contact the American Medical Association for your doc's credentials.  Since you are having tumescent liposuction, I would imagine your doc has his board certification in Dermatology which is appropriate since no other specialty has as much liposuction training in their residency programs as dermatology does.  Being board certified in plastic  and reconstructive surgery or any specialty  doesn't necessarily  equate to be good at liposuction.  Ask if liposuction is a major part of his practice and if he does it under local tumescent anesthesia with the micro canulas.  If he still does it under general anesthesia, that can be a RED flag! 

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Board certification and liposuction

Board certification implies passing tests of one of many specialties regulated by the American Board of Medical Specialties.  Normally liposuction is performed by either plastic surgeons or dermatologists.  Therefore the boards would be of The American Board of Dermatology (Tumescent liposuction which is performed by most liposuction surgeons today, was invented by Dr. Jeffrey Klein, a dermatologist), or The American Board of Plastic Surgery,  both of which have guidelines of training in liposuction that are followed in residency training and regulated by the ACGME (the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education). 

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Check at


Just check on your surgeon at It will tell you by which ABMS board he or she might be certified. Boards not recognized by the ABMS are questionable anyway.


Best Regards,


John Di Saia MD

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Check with the ABMS

Being board certified means that in the specific field the doctor has not only had specialty training, but also passed an examination or ongoing examinations testing his competence. The best way to verify a doctor’s board certification is by checking board association websites like American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), You will get the most current information from this resource.
You will find out if your doctor is listed there and which board he is a member of.
Most doctors offer also plaques hanging in their offices   but do not rely only by that

Not board certified by the American Board of Medical Specialities

First, you want a physician who is board certified by the American Board of Medical Specialities.   The ABMS oversees specialty and subspecialty boards and insures that physicians board certified by these recognized boards meet the highest and most rigorous training and testing criteria.  There are 9 main boards and many subspecialty boards.  One of the main boards is the American Board of Plastic Surgery.  Second, you also want to  make sure that your physician is practicing within his/her area of certification.  For example, OB/GYNs have an ABMS board.  So they are board certified by an ABMS board.  But I would not go to an OB/GYN for a breast augmentation, because the OB/GYN board does not include training of OB/GYNs in the field of plastic surgery.  You also see many physicians trained in Internal Medicine performing injections such as Botox, etc.  These people are practicing outside of their "core" training.   If your physician only has those credentials he may not be board certified by the American Board of Medical Specialities and/or not practicing within his core.   Unfortunately, other boards can be formed by almost anyone and these groups can call themselves a "board" but they are not overseen by the ABMS.  Often, members of these boards have substandard levels of training.  Similiarly, the significant professional societies, such as the American Society for Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, require their members to be Board Certified in Plastic Surgery.  Unfortunately, there are many "societies" which have less rigorous criteria for membership.   As the other doctors mentioned, it is fairly simple to find out the board certification of any physician.  Finally, it is very disturbing to get these questions after the surgery is scheduled and the surgical date is just around the corner.  Please look into the credentials of your physician prior to scheduling surgery.  Your health and safety are of the utmost importance.

Tracy M. Pfeifer, MD, MS

Tracy Pfeifer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

How to Check if Your Doctor is Board Certified

Board Certification is governed by the American Board of Medical Specialties or ABMS. You can find a link for the ABMS at the bottom of the web page referenced below. To prevent bots from collecting the information, you have to create a free account. Once signed in you can see what, if any, Board Certification your doctor has.  

The link below is to an article I posted on my blog about what Board Certification means, and it has several links at the end of the article to useful sites. You can find links on the page to the ABMS and the American Board of Plastic Surgery, where you can check if your doctor is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (no sign in necessary). It is also a good idea to look up your doctor on your states medical board's web site. A link for my state's, California, is also provided in the posting.

Joseph Mele, MD
Walnut Creek Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Board Certification

An additional question to ask in addition to “is my doctor Board Certified,” is “who certified my doctor.” If you ask your doctor if they are Board Certified, also ask what Board certified them. Make sure that their answer is very specific. There are now many “boards” that certify physicians. Many of these are created just to give the impression of legitimacy. The only boards accepted by hospital credentialing committees are those overseen by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). There are several ABMS boards that certify physicians for plastic surgery within their specific fields. The only one that certifies physicians for plastic surgery anywhere in the body is the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Neither of the groups you mentioned are ABMS Boards. Also ask what their training was. Many non surgeons are now doing plastic surgery. This can be dangerous with some procedures if the physician does not understand the physiologic shifts that occur with the surgery they are doing. To be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery requires a minimum of 5 years of surgical training. Many have had significantly more. You can also look your doctor up on line: ABMS at, American Board of Plastic Surgery at Additionally, all members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery are required to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Robert T. Buchanan, MD
Highlands Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

How you can know if your surgeon is board certified

Not all board certification is alike, and recognized professional boards are members of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). You should ask your surgeon about board certification, and which hospital within the community they are affiliated with. All hospitals will have information about the credentials of members of the medical staff. You can also contact the ABMS on their website, and for plastic surgeons you can contact the American Board of Plastic Surgery and hit the board certification tab. Also don't forget to ask about the accreditation of the facility in which you plan to have liposuction.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.