FACS or Plastic Surgeon? Help Choosing a Surgeon?

There are so many boards, titles, etc. that it is all confusing! What opinions would you have about someone with the following credentials-Board Certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, The American Board of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgeons, and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons to perform a rhino? Can someone who does not have Board Certified Plastic Surgeon attached to his name still be good if he has performed more rhinos? Help!

Doctor Answers 7

Board Certifications and FACS

You are correct in that all the designations are confusing. 

There are 24 official medical specialty boards as recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialists (see ABMS.org for details). Both the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and the American Board of Otolaryngology (ABOto) are recognized medical specialty boards by the AMBS. Surgeons who are board certified by the ABPS and ABOto are considered to have the highest level of qualifications for their specialties.


The American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS) is NOT an official ABMS board, but to have certification by this board, a surgeon would have to first be certified by either the ABOto or ABPS. So a ABFPRS certified surgeon is already certified by one of the 24 recognized medical specialty boards. 

In most cases, a surgeon with certification by the ABFPRS or the ABPS would be a good start to have discussions about rhinoplasty. 


The FACS (Fellow American College of Surgeons) is a designation that can be earned by any surgeon who has demonstrated a high level of patient care, after they have already been certified by one of the ABMS surgical boards. FACS may be granted to any surgeon (heart surgeons, general surgeons, etc) and does NOT mean that they are qualified to perform plastic surgery. It does mean that the surgeon has demonstrated a high level of achievement in their own surgical specialty. 

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 68 reviews

Choosing your Plastic Surgeon

During your consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon, ask to see before and after photos of actual patients who have undergone cosmetic surgery. The surgeon may provide you with a list of patients you may speak to as a reference for the doctor. To enhance your education regarding the surgeon, you may be introduced to some post-op patients as well during your visit with the surgeon. Most patients are willing to share their experience regarding their surgeon, the staff, hospital, and recovery.
Professional doctors will ensure realistic expectations and take the time to address your concerns. They will provide you with honest advice and encourage you to do your homework, talk to other patients, and make an informed choice. One of the most important factors in choosing a plastic surgeon is your personal comfort level with the doctor. You should feel comfortable asking questions about your cosmetic surgery procedure so that you can make an educated final decision on whether you would like to proceed with surgery.
There are a number of advantages in choosing a qualified and highly experienced plastic surgeon to perform your cosmetic surgery. If there are any complications during surgery, an experienced plastic surgeon will be more adept at handling the situation. In addition, a plastic surgeon that has performed many cosmetic surgeries will have had more time to perfect his or her technique and results.

Reputable plastic surgeons should have privileges to perform cosmetic surgery procedures in the operating room at an accredited hospital, not just in the surgery center in their office. They work with a highly skilled team including, board certified anesthesiologists, nurses, and technicians to enhance patient comfort and to provide a peace of mind to the patient’s and their families.
I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

FACS or Plastic Surgeon? Help choosing a surgeon?

Hello! Thank you for your question.  Cost will vary among plastic surgeons as well as with geographic location and what procedures exactly they will be providing to you.  Certainly, researching a board certified plastic surgeon well-versed in the procedure(s) you desire is recommended - checking the American Board of Plastic Surgery is a great start. Consult with two or more surgeons who you are happy with their postoperative photographs and those who you, most importantly, feel comfortable and confident with. Use the opportunity to ask questions as well as visit with staff and investigate the accredited facilities they work out of.  I believe fellowship-training, beyond the core plastic surgery residency to be important, as that surgeon has gone above and beyond to seek additional training specific to that area of interest and chosen to gain additional expertise in that area.  The American Board of Medical Specialties also has other Boards where, depending on the procedure you are opting for, have other areas that are qualified as well (Dermatology and ENT).

Experience should not be measured solely by the age of the surgeon or how many years s/he has been in practice.  Checking the education and training is more valuable - a Board Certified MD plastic surgeon who was accepted to and completed an integrated plastic surgery residency, in today's day and age, are excellent choices. Those are the top students who have superior training at top institutes.  Plastic Surgery is NOT a fellowship...it is a residency. Those surgeons who have actually successfully completed additional fellowship training beyond the plastic surgery residency are also passionate about that area and will likely have the most recent, innovative, and up to date techniques. These are usually the younger surgeons, who are still readily willing and competent to continue to strive for the newest material and remain up to date on literature and conferences. 

You must decide for yourself who you are most comfortable with and confident with who will meet your goals and expectations. Cost may differ just on expertise and the aforementioned additional training ad what that additional expertise training has afforded to his/her patients.  Hope that this helps!  Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Choosing a surgeon, FACS or Plastic surgeon

The rhinoplasty operation is the single hardest operation to perform in the entire field of cosmetic surgery.  It is extremely important to go to the best rhinoplasty surgeon you can find.  This surgeon should be board certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and by the American Board of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.  Look for an extensive portfolio of before and after photos from the surgeon.  It is equally important to make sure you are being put to sleep under general anesthesia by a board certified physician anesthesiologist as well as having the surgery performed in a Medicare certified ambulatory surgery center.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 143 reviews

FACS or Plastic Surgeon? Help Choosing a Surgeon?

 As confusing as the different boards are, the titles are quite revealing.  Facial Plastic Surgeons are Otolaryngologists (Members of Otolaryngology Board) that have completed additional specialized training and performed the appropriate number of facial plastic surgeries (including Rhinoplasty) before passing the examinations to become Board certified by The American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.  As such, IMHO and I am a board certified facial plastic surgeon, they are some of the most highly trained and experienced Rhinoplasty Surgeons in the world.  

 Surgeons certified by other boards certainly are skilled, well trained and can also perform Rhinoplasty.  IMHO, the best way to select a Rhinoplasty Surgeon or the surgeon for any plastic and cosmetic surgery procedure is not board certification alone but the surgeon's ability to understand and follow the proper aesthetics of facial (and in this case nasal) beauty foir the creatyion of a naturally, more attractive nose and face.  IMHO, the most technically brilliant surgeon who follows the wrong aesthetic plan is still doomed to failure.  Hope this helps.

Francis R. Palmer, III, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Surgeon Credentials and Qualifications

It can be very confusing to decide on who is the best surgeon to perform a surgery. Many will advertise board certification, but that does not always mean certification in the relevant field. The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) recognizes two boards, American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology, who offer training in rhinoplasty surgery. The American Board of Facial Plastic Surgery is not an ABMS board but is recognized by most state medical boards, and their diplomates definitely have qualifications for rhinoplasty. The FACS (Fellow of American College of Surgeons) does not describe a specialty and can be obtained by any board certified surgeon in good standing.

Gregory J. Vipond, MD, FRCSC
Inland Empire Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

This question has been answered many times before about Rhinoplasty surgeon credentials....

There are 2 main Boards of Plastic Surgery for the face and neck.  Americam Board of Plastic Surgery as well as the American Board of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. There are plenty of other Boards but these are the only 2 real validated Boards and only members of these 2 Boards are trained and examined and certified to do Plastic Surgery on the face and neck.  The members of the Plastic Surgery Board also do Body surgery where members of the Facial Plastic Surgery do not do body surgery. FACS is a whole different thing.  Its not a Board. Its a society and both Plastics and Facial Plastic surgeons can be FACS members. Thats it and these are the facts. 


But Board certification is only the most minimal of the criteria.  MOST botched up rhinoplasties are being done by Board Certified members of these Boards so do not just choose based on Board certification.  That is only one part of the puzzle.  Look into their experience and their results.  Even experience may not mean much if they have been doing bad nose jobs for 20 years! Do lots more research and good luck. 

Shervin Naderi, MD, FACS
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 106 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.