One of my Choices of Plastic Surgeon is Not Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Yet. Should I Go With Her Anyway?

I was referred to a surgeon by another surgeon. I went in to see her and LOVED her. She was very thorough, answered my questions honestly with great detail and I felt good about her. After I saw her, I realized that she was not yet certified. I emailed her about that and a few other things. She replied the next day to answer my questions. She just started her practice and is in the process of becoming certified and is halfway through it. What are your thoughts on using her?

Doctor Answers 4

One of my choices of plastic surgeons is not a board certified plastic surgeon yet. Should I go with her anyways?

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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.    

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 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!

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Should board certification be a requirement for choosing a Plastic Surgeon

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Your question raises a great question. I am Board Certified Plastic Surgeon but my full answer may surprise you. On one hand,  I absolutely believe you should use a Plastic Surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery(ABPS). On the other hand this does not guarantee you of a great result. It only enhances your odds. Even among ABPS approved surgeons, you should review photos, experience, and recommendations, if possible. This will further enhance your odds of a successful outcome. 

Chances are that every surgeon you visit will show you board certification of some type. ER Docs, Neurologists, Ob-Gyn's, Internists, among others can take weekend courses and get certificates, but only certification by the ABMS is the gold standard in Plastic Surgery. Many surgeons call themselves "plastic surgeons" deceptively.  The gold standard governing body regarding certifying specialties is the American Board of Medical Specialties(ABMS). Ask if their specialty certificate is recognized by the ABMS. Certainly the ABPS is a recognized specialty, which allows you to know that a certain high level of training and testing has been completed successfully.    

I find it quite telling that many patients will choose non certified physicians based primarily on cost / cut rate deals. I see many patients in my office who wish they had never had these cut rate "deals". 

With regard to your specific case, you are dealing with a "board eligible" Plastic surgeon instead of Board Certified Plastic surgeon. They have received training but there is not way to tell fund of knowledge until they pass their board. The probably will but you can't be sure. Also you know for sure that they have had less than 1 to 2 years experience. They may have great bedside manner and ability, but there is just no way to be sure. IF they have great before and after photos and you like them, then that goes a long way to choosing the right surgeon. 

There are no guarantees in choosing the right surgeon for you. You can only optimize your chances by keeping in mind the considerations above. The final choice is yours. 

Jay Burns, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Board certification

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Dear Texan,

    Board certification means that the doctor has basic knowledge and clinical skills to satisfy the American board plastic surgery . If  your surgeon is more than 3-4 years in practice and did not pass his board, it is woriesome. If she just finished training, it is highly likely that she will pass it in the near future. This brings, though, another issue and that is experience. Even though you "LOVE" her,  you have to consider the fact that she did not perform many surgeries on her own.  So, you take a higher risk than you would have with an experienced surgeon.

          Best of luck,

                                  Dr Widder 

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Board certified plastic surgeon

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All board certified plastic surgeons start out without certification when they begin their practice...if she is properly trained, has good surgical skills, experience and judgement, she will eventually earn her certification...if you gut feeling is positive, you should trust it rather than just go by a certificate.

Leonard T. Yu, MD
Maui Plastic Surgeon

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.