What credentials to look for in choosing a surgeon?

What credentials do I specifically make sure the surgeon has so I know I'm good hands? This would be my first cosmetic surgery and I plan on getting a breast augmentation with silicone implants. I also want to get a nose job, but that will be planned a year after getting my breast augmentation. I just want to make sure I pick a surgeon that is certified in doing cosmetic surgery since there seems to be an overwhelming amount of surgeons. Thank you for your time

Doctor Answers 16

Things to consider when choosing a plastic surgeon

There are a few things to take into consideration when choosing a surgeon. First and foremost, since you are in the U.S., you must make sure they are certified by the AMERICAN BOARD OF PLASTIC SURGERY. Next, you will want to schedule a consultation and see if you feel comfortable with that particular specialist plastic surgeon. You’ll want to ensure that they understand exactly what aesthetic goals you want to achieve. Another important step is looking through the before and after images from this surgeon. You want to make sure you are comfortable with their previous work and that you both agree on what is aesthetically pleasing.

Best of luck in your journey to find a specialist plastic surgeon!

Melbourne Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews


Great question. Among the most important credentials is that the surgeon is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Many physicians and surgeons want to say they are plastic surgeons or cosmetic surgeons, but only those who have been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery have actually completed all of the rigorous requirements necessary to be considered such by their peers. Being board certified means the surgeon has graduated from an approved plastic surgery residency training program, has completed a series of cases in the full spectrum of plastic surgery, and has passed both a written and oral examination showing that the surgeon is knowledgable, safe, and effective in the practice of plastic surgery. Beyond this, it's important to see a surgeon who has experience in the operation you are interested in, can share with you results, and who others in the community can vouch for. Hope that helps and good luck!  

Salem Samra, MD
Middletown Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

When you want a good surgeon

(there is no such thing as 'the best' as there are many surgeons equally good), board certification is nice to have but not the absolute.  You want a surgeon that listens to you, has predictable results, will answer your calls post-op, and a good revision policy.  In addition, his/her reputation should be impeccable in your community.  And going to the most costly will not guarantee your outcome.  So best of luck in finding your good surgeon.  This is very important when having your nose done as now the number of good surgeons diminish.  There are many board certified surgeons who are not consistently good at rhinoplasty and I'm one of them and no longer do this procedure.

Curtis Wong, MD
Redding Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

What credentials to look for in choosing a surgeon?

This is a great question and one I wish more (all) patients would ask prior to considering having cosmetic surgery. There are a lot of smoke and mirrors out there meant to confuse and deceive the general public about "plastic surgery." 

Please see the link I have provided to an image that explains the difference between a board-certified plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon. The bottom line is that there is only one board that is approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties to certify plastic surgeons and that is the American Board of Plastic Surgery. These groups make sure that before being certified, a surgeon has completed a rigorous monitored and certified training program and then passed multiple written and oral exams, in addition to proving that they are safe and effective in their surgical practice. Only after jumping through all these "hoops" will that surgeon be able to be board certified by the ABPS. You can go to the website of the ABPS and use the "Public" tab to verify certification of your chosen surgeon. 

Do not be fooled by other boards or other surgeons that claim they are "double" or even "triple" board certified in one thing or another. If one of those boards is not the American Board of Plastic Surgery, you should look elsewhere. 

Hope this helps!

Dallas Buchanan, MD
Spokane Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Breast augmentation

Thank you for your question.

I would recommend when looking for a surgeon to perform your breast augmentation that you choose one who is board certified and specializes in breast augmentations. You may also want to look on the ASPS website as this lists board certified plastic surgeons in your area. I would also look at the surgeon’s credentials, memberships, educational background, reviews and before and afters. Before and afters are a good indicator of their techniques and outcomes from breast augmentation surgeries and reading reviews from other patients is a good way to see what their experience with the doctor was like. Best of luck in your endeavors!

James Fernau, MD, FACS
Board Certified ENT
Board Certified Plastic Surgery
Member of ASPS, ASAPS, ISAPS, The Rhinoplasty Society, AAFPRS, OTO/HNS, ASLMS, International Federation for Adipose Therapeutics & Science

James Fernau, MD, FACS
Pittsburgh Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Breast Augmentation - Finding A Surgeon - Board Certified

Thank you for your excellent question. Finding the proper surgeon is critical to the success of your breast augmentation. You need to find a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery who specializes in cosmetic breast procedures. The ASPS website will provide a list of properly trained surgeons in your area. You should go on several consultations and see who you like best. Ask to see a lot of before and after pictures of their work. Hope this helps.

Steven J. Rottman, MD, FACS
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Credentials for a plastic surgery procedure.

You ask a very good question. Credentials are extremely important but are not the only factor in selecting a plastic surgeon.  I would strongly recommend that you first consider finding an American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) certified plastic surgeon who is also a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).  I would also research the surgeon's reputation in the community and finally review before-and-after photographs during your consultation.  It is also important that you feel you have a good rapport established between you and your surgeon and that you have a sense of confidence and trust that they are interested in achieving the best outcome for you.  Be careful to avoid surgeons whose office staff are very aggressive and use aggressive marketing pushing you toward booking your procedure before you are ready.  Best wishes and good luck,

Jon A Perlman M.D., FACS
Diplomate, American Board of Plastic Surgery
Member, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)
ABC-TV Extreme Makeover Surgeon
Beverly Hills, California

Jon A. Perlman, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

What credentials to look for in choosing a surgeon?

It's a great question. For breast and body surgery it's essential to make sure that you find a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of plastic surgery. This is the most rigorous board for credentialing plastic surgeons. For rhinoplasty surgery, you need a plastic surgeon or facial plastic surgeon rhinoplasty is one of the most challenging procedures and cosmetic surgery, so it's essential to find someone who does many many rhinoplasty surgeries per year. They should have many before after photos to show you. Consider several consultations prior to choosing a surgeon.

Austin Hayes, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Picking a surgeon

I would focus on two items:

1) Make sure they are board certified by the AMERICAN BOARD OF PLASTIC SURGERY; this is a strict title.

2)Make sure they demonstrate results with pre and post operative photographs.

Arian Mowlavi, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 68 reviews

What credentials to look for in choosing a surgeon?

The critical importance of the choice of the plastic surgeon who will perform your aesthetic (cosmetic) surgical procedure cannot be overstated. The plastic surgeon should as a minimum requirement be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Physicians in both the American Society for Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the ASAPS are board certified in plastic surgery and are capable of performing the procedure. However, if a member of my family planned to have a cosmetic surgery I would want the surgeon to be a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) because:

·                     Membership in ASAPS requires that the plastic surgeon be board certified by ABPS for at least three years and have performed a minimum number of aesthetic cases.

·                     Members must be invited to apply; they cannot simply submit a check and become a member. There is additional screening of members’ practice profiles and adherence to ethical guidelines.

·                     Before being eligible to be an ASAPS member, the plastic surgeon must attend one ASAPS Aesthetic Meeting. The Aesthetic Meeting is attended by board certified plastic surgeons only and is regarded as the gold standard in aesthetic education.

·                     Many ASAPS members do some reconstructive surgery such as breast reconstruction. However, the majority of their practices focus is directed toward cosmetic procedures.

·                     As the leading organization for aesthetic education, ASAPS members have access to the latest proven techniques and procedures.

·                     ASAPS members must adhere to strict rules concerning performing surgery in a surgical facility that is accredited by a national accrediting organization like the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) or a licensed hospital. Safety should be and is always the main concern.

·                     Any physician can self-identify as a surgeon. Not everyone who calls themselves a plastic surgeon is Board Certified by ABPS and not every board certified plastic surgeon meets the qualifications to be a member of ASAPS.

·                     It is crucial that you use extra thoughtfulness in taking care of your body and your health. It makes sense to see an ASAPS member, the surgeon with the most current knowledge and expertise who specializes in aesthetics of the face, breast, and body.

Robert Singer, MD FACS

La Jolla, California

Robert Singer, MD
La Jolla Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 19 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.