Is "Board Certification" the Same Thing for ABMS Vs ABPS?

There is a on-going argument in my city between physicians who are certified in another field (ENT)through ABMS and physicians who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Sugery which apparantly is not the same as American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. One saying they are the "real" plastic surgeons. Help??

Doctor Answers 7

Understanding Legitimate Credentials

Hi there-

The American Board of Medical Specialties recognizes the 24 specialties offering Board Certification based on an accredited residency training program, followed by rigorous written and oral examination of the candidate's knowledge, experience, and judgement. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is one of the 24 member Boards, and its Diplomates (those certified by The Board) are Board Certified Plastic Surgeons.

To become a plastic surgeon, we spend 6-8 years evaluating patients, performing plastic surgery procedures under the direct supervision of other Board Certified Plastic Surgeons, and then learning how to care for patients after surgery. And this is all before we are eligible to even take our Board exams...

The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is NOT one of these boards, is NOT recognized by The ABMS, and requires only that the doctor have experience doing cosmetic surgery and an interest in cosmetic surgery... They may be ER doctors, eye doctors, family practice doctors, etc...

Who would you rather entrust with your safety and happiness?

Is "Board Certification" the Same Thing for ABMS Vs ABPS?

 Thank you for the important question. Unfortunately, differentiating the credentials of the variety of physicians who wish to provide "cosmetic surgery" services, can be very confusing to patients. Also unfortunately, there is no strict regulation set up to protect the consumer by state or national medical regulatory organizations. Therefore, patients must take the responsibility to ask the question: what are you board-certified in?
The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only board recognized by the American Board of medical specialties. Confirming that your surgeon is certified by the American Board of plastic surgeon is very important; this will assure you that your surgeon's undergone rigorous training, testing, and continued medical education necessary to become and remain board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Plastic surgeons who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery are then potential candidates to join the American Society of Plastic Surgery and/or the Aesthetic Society of Plastic Surgery. These societies will have lists of their plastic surgeon members; these lists may be helpful when patients are seeking a board-certified plastic surgeon. in the process of selecting a plastic surgery I also encourage patients to ask to SEE lots of examples of their work AND preferably speak/see patients who have had similar procedures done.
Be very careful with your decision-making. You will find, while doing your due diligence, that there are many different “specialties” who will offer their services to you; again, I strongly recommend you concentrate on surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Be very careful with your decision-making. You will find, while doing your due diligence, that there are many different “specialties” who will offer their services to you; again, I strongly recommend you concentrate on surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Again, I cannot overemphasize the importance of careful selection of plastic surgeon when it comes to concerns such as safety, achievement of the desired outcome, and ability to manage complications that may arise (even in the best of hands). Keep in mind that revisionary surgery may be more costly in many ways. I hope this, and the attached link, helps. Best wishes.

Board Certification

To answer this question a little history lesson is necessary. In 1933 4 large specialty groups of doctors decided to set standards for post graduate physician education. They met with other specialty groups, hospitals, medical schools, examination boards and formed the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Through the years the number of specialties has grown from the original 4 to 24 member boards.

To become board certified through ABMS in a medical specialty (like Plastic Surgery) a physician needs to attend an accredited residency, complete the residency and then qualify to take the board exams. The exams are very difficult and consist of two parts, a written test and then an oral examination where the physician must submit cases that they themselves have performed. It usually takes 7-10 years of training in Plastic Surgery to become Board Certified. To complete the residency and pass the boards is extremely hard and once certified the doctor must maintain competence and re take the boards every 10 years to prove that continuing education and training is on going. Training is Plastic Surgery includes not only reconstructive surgery but cosmetic surgery. A well trained plastic surgeon can not only make normal breasts more attractive, he/she can rebuild them from scratch after a mastectomy for cancer. This is the Gold Standard in physician education. Most hospital require the physicians on staff at their facility to be board certified in their field of study.

If a physician is board certified in his/her specialty you can be certain that that person is well trained and competent. But, here is where it gets tricky. There are only 24 member boards and Cosmetic Surgery is not one of them. In fact there are THOUSANDS of different boards that are not members of the prestigious ABMS. These are "self designated boards" or in other words, boards that anyone can establish and regulate even you and me. We could start a new board tomorrow, The American Board of Cosmetic Breast Implant Surgery, and it would be totally legal and I could advertise it as such. However, it means nothing, there are no vigorous requirements to become a member of my society, I just need a check for $$ to have you join me as a member. In fact one of the self designated Cosmetic Surgery boards only requires a weekend course to become eligible for membership.

Some states, like California, have passed laws prohibiting physicians from advertising self designated boards, only the recognized ABMS boards can be advertised. But not all of the states. The bottom line is, consumer beware! You need to do research on your chosen physician who performs your cosmetic surgery. Do you want a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who went through 10 years of training, passed vigorous written and oral exams to perform your breast implant surgery or an Emergency Room doctor who is board certified in Cosmetic Surgery and learned to perform breast implant surgery over a weekend. I think the answer is obvious!


David Finkle, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Board Certification in Plastic Surgery

The American Board of Plastic Surgery is one of 24 specialities recognized by ABMS. The ABMS is the gold standard for 'Board Certification'. This is the organization who sets the standards for what is required. I have prepared a video to help explain why ABMS recognized specialties are important, and why you should carefully evaluate any non recognized specialty. You should know that there are many other 'boards' which do NOT have the strict standards of the ABMS.

Make sure your Plastic Surgeon is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery!

Ricardo L Rodriguez MD

Ricardo L. Rodriguez, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 84 reviews

Credentials for palstic surgery

This is a long standing argument. There are many doctors "out there" that claim to be plastic surgeons but are not board certified by the ABPS which is recognized by the ABMS.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Choosing a surgeon

What someone says they are and what they actually are are not always the same. You cannot be a plastic surgeon unless you completed a plastic surgery residency any more than you can be a dentist without going to dental school. That does not mean that one is qualified or not to do a specific procedure or is the best fit for a specific patient to have a specific procedure. An ENT is an ENT and  a plastic surgeon is a plastic surgeon. The only exception is an ENT who has also completed a plastic surgery residency. I have performed revision nasal surgery after surgery previously performed by an ENT and I am sure the converse has also occurred sometime over the last 15+ years. Instead of focusing on a label like a real plastic surgeon it is better to focus on the specifics of the surgery you want performed and who you feel comfortable is adequately trained to perform the surgery safely with an optimal result. Common sense tells you do not have liposuction by a doctor who has only completed a Psychiatry or Radiology residency. I would definitely stay away from physicians who are not completely honest with their training background and call themselves something they are not. If they cannot be trusted before surgery while you are awake you certainly cannot trust them while you are asleep on the table. Choosing a surgeon is like negotiating a mine field so choose wisely by doing your home work.

Aaron Stone, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Board-certification

The American Board of Medical Specialties governs the traditional specialty  boards in the united States such as the American Board of Plastic Surgery, but not the American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons. All surgeons certified by the ABPS are plastic surgeons while members of the AMCS can come from fields not trained in plastic surgery.  In general, plastic surgeon have a much broader and extensive training than members of the AMCS.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 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.