How Risky is Breast Reduction by Non-ABMS Surgeon?

My doctor studied medicine and plastic surgery in South Africa. He's Board Certified in Plastic Surgery by the South African College of Medicine & the Medical Council of New Zealand. He's also Board Certified in General Surgery by the South African College of Medicine and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

He has over 20 years of experience and now works in Colorado. But  for him to hold an American Board of Plastic Surgery certificate, he's required to have had surgery training completed in the USA. Am I taking a risk to have my Breast reduction with this doctor?

Doctor Answers 10

In this case, it is probably OK, but typically I wouldn't recommend it

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Being from Denver, I know your surgeon. His reputation is excellent. South African surgeons tend to be exceedingly well trained.

I would speak to his other breast reduction patients to get an idea about his work. You can also find out if he has any complaints lodged against him with the Colorado Board of Medicine. I wouldn't worry.

Even though he is not ABPS (American Board of Plastic Surgery) certified, he is a fantastic surgeon. However, in general, I would advise the use of ABPS surgeons at all costs.

Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Each situation is different

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In this particular case, I think you are probably in good shape, as long as you have access to some of his before and after photos as well as the ability to speak with some of his patients about their experience. I think in general, being Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery is a good first step to selecting your plastic surgeon, but I agree that just because someone is Board-Certified does not mean they are by definition an exceptional breast surgeon. Also, overseas training is different in different countries, but certainly countries such as Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, among others, train some exceptional surgeons.

If you feel comfortable with him, and like his results, I think you will probably be ok; alternatively, You may want to seek a second opinion just to set your mind at ease.

Good luck!

Dr. Salemy

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 155 reviews

Is he a member of ISAPS?

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Though he may not be ABPS certirfied, there are certain professional organziations of plastic surgeons that provide at least a modicum of recognition of qualifications.

Check to see if he is a member of ISAPS, the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. And even ASPS, the American Society of PLastic Surgery has international corresponding member status.

This guy may well be good...and not all board-certified plastic surgeons are good for that matter, either. It would be unfair to condemn someone who moved to the USA mid-career. So check with these societies, and do your best to check his credentials with the medical board, see photos of his results, see his diplomas, speak to a patient, etc.

Steven Teitelbaum, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Choosing a breast reduction surgery

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Patients today have many excellent choices in breast reduction surgery. There are many new techniques that can help contour the breast, remove tissue that may be causing pain or other symptoms, and create a beautiful result. Unfortunately, there are many non-board-certified doctors out there who do not have the training and the techniques that are still offering this surgery.
Please be very careful of this. Remember that you will have to live with the results for the rest of your life. Surgeons who are board-certified by the American Board of plastic surgery have been approved only after verification that they received years of plastic surgery training in an accredited residency, half passed written and oral exams, and they are cases and there techniques have been evaluated and approved by the American Board of plastic surgery. This is the most thorough Board certification in the world. When considering your own health and the impact it can have on your life and your family do you deserve anything less?

In our practice here in Miami, we have seen patients present to the clinic after having had their surgery by non-board-certified plastic surgeons. Several patients have even lost an entire breast because the surgery was not performed properly. Unfortunately, their tissue is often so damaged that there are minimal things that we can do to help improve it. These patients learn the lesson that often the cheapest surgeries end up being the most costly.

Breast Reduction by qualified surgeon.

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This surgeon's credentials sound terrific.  It's probably just fine to let him do your breast reduction.  Ask about his local reputation, and ask to see before and after pictures.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

Choosing Surgeon?

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Thank you for the question.

You are wise to do your due diligence in the selection of plastic surgeon.

In this case, I would suggest that you ask to see lots of example of the surgeon's work to confirm that he does good work.

Best wishes.


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It is not a bad idea to seek a second opion from a Board Certified Plastic surgeon.  Also interview patients that have had surgery done by this Doctor.  Good Luck

ABPS benchmark

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If you are concerned about your surgeon, fall back on a certification you can rely on. The surgeon you talk about sounds well-trained but what made them relocate to the states where they knew they would not be able to attain BC? Most likely you would have a fine result but you visit other board-certified plastic surgeons in your area, ask all of the important questions, look at before and after photos, and then make your decision as to who will care for you.

Dr Edwards

Not US board certified

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 While your surgeon may be extremely qualified, if he is not boarded in the US, it may not be a good idea to have him do your surgery.  Be careful.  There are plenty of board certified plastic surgeons in your area.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

ABPS is best

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Certainly the situation you describe is unusual and the surgeon might be experienced and qualified.   Generally, there will be many well qualified American Board of Plastic Surgery qualified surgeons in Colorado whom you can go to without this concern.  Go with your gut instinct here. 

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