Licensed by state medical board but not by the other accreditations (AAAASF, AAAHC, IMQ JHMO..Spelling?)

I am ready to have my surgery, but I am struggling with making a decision on a PS. Both are ASPS, and Board Certified. One has accreditation with all three mentioned above, the other is only licensed by the state. The one licensed by the state (have no complaints on file) is cheaper, and I love the results. The PS licensed by state and all organizations is double, I like his results but not as much as the other. My 1st priority and concern is SAFETY, and obviously excellent results! HELP!!

Doctor Answers 5

Licensed by state medical board but not by the other accreditations (AAAASF, AAAHC, IMQ JHMO..Spelling?)

All of these licensing agencies can get very confusing, but let me try to help simplify it. The state medical board licenses physicians to practice medicine in the respective state. The other ones you mentioned accredit surgery centers, hospitals, and office based surgery centers, but not the physicians who practice in them. Additionally, the American College of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) oversees the training of most physicians and surgeons. ACGME accredited boards exist for each specialty of medicine and surgery and have specific guidelines for training. For Plastic Surgeons, The American Board of Plastic Surgery, is the Board responsible for testing the knowledge of plastic surgeons. Those who complete all of the training requirements and pass the required exams are considered Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. To confuse matters more, there are non ACGME boards like the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery that certify their own members as board certified, but these boards are not up to the standards of ACGME boards.In addiiton, each surgical specialty has national societies that consist of members that meet the ethical and training requirements set by the society. For Plastic Surgeons, the two main societies are The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. 
You should check to see if both surgeons are board certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery and whether they are members of the two societies mentioned above. If a surgeon does not do office based surgery, he/she may not have the credentials you asked about since they only apply to the surgery center.

Choosing an Accredited Surgical Facility

Thanks for the question, as this is very important and very confusing. The accreditation agencies you listed are the ones that oversee surgical facilities to assure that they are as safe as possible. Most office facilities use either AAAASF or AAAHC which were designed for such facilities. Hospitals and Surgery Centers usually use the Joint Commission (JCHO previously) though they now also do office facilities. All board certified plastic surgeons must use a facility accredited by one of these. Also the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the  American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) require their members to use one of these accrediting agencies. Since the states vary greatly in their requirements, both the board and these organizations do not accept state accreditation. Therefore the surgeon you saw who is only "state licensed" is not a certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (there are a number of other "boards" that have been created, but are not overseen by any oversight organization) or a member of either the ASPS (in spite of what you may have been told) or the ASAPS. If he/she were really interested in your safety, the facility would be accredited by one of the above agencies. The difference in cost between such surgeons is frequently the difference in having all the safety equipment and systems which are more costly.

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

Licensed by state medical board, and lots of other letters!

So your two plastic surgeon choices are Board Certified? By what Board?

The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, for example, is NOT a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), which is a parent organization regulating 24 recognized medical and surgical specialties and sub-specialties. Guess what--Cosmetic Surgery is NOT one of these--cosmetic surgery is considered part of Plastic Surgery.  The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is one of the 24 recognized boards, and the only Board that certifies surgeons to perform cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the entire body. So that's the Board to be a member of if you're a "real" plastic surgeon. Otherwise, Dermatologists, Gynecologists, Family Practitioners, and doctors or other specialties (often with little or no training specifically in plastic surgery) obtain "certification" by the Cosmetic Surgery Board in order to avoid tipping off their prospective patients in their real line of training.

Now, you can't be a member of ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons) without being an ABPS member in good standing. The ASPS also requires all member surgeons operate ONLY at accredited facilities, such as a JCAHO (now Joint Commission) accredited hospitals or freestanding hospital-owned surgicenters, AAAASF (American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgical Facilities) accredited office or freestanding surgical facilities, or AAAHC (Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care) ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). IMQ (Institute for Medical Quality) is another accrediting organization that is newer (since 1996) and also accredits surgical facilities not usually associated with a hospital.

So if both are ABPS-certified plastic surgeons, don't worry about the other letters, as they have to do with the facility. But do ask your surgeon about his or her chosen operating facility, its accreditation, safety, and capability in an emergency. Then choose the one whose result you like better, regardless of cost. Go with your gut after the letters are all checked out. best wishes! Dr. Tholen

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 240 reviews

All depends

AAAASF, JCAH, and AAHC are  organizations certifying in office operating room.  If the surgeon who you like better will be doing the surgery in a hospital - it doesn't matter.  However, if you are having office based surgery (doctor's office) I would go for any of the ones certified by any one of the three organizations mentioned above.  If you are having surgery in a free standing ambulatory center (not the doctor's office), they are probably certified by the state.  Good luck. 

Selecting plastic surgeon…

Thank you for the important question.  Best to have your procedure performed by a appropriately trained/certified (board-certified) plastic surgeon. 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 surgeon 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.

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.