By law (as crafted by politicians) ANYONE with a medical degree (MD, DO) can PRACTICE any field of medicine he/she wishes to practice. It is PERFECTLY legal for a doctor without more than a year of GENERIC training to practice ANY and ALL fields of medicine.
Obviously, these days, it is hard to catch many but the extremely illiterate patients this way so most practitioners cloak themselves by saying they are "BOARD CERTIFIED" -
THE QUESTIONS should be certified by WHO? and IN WHAT FIELD OF MEDICINE? (Unless you have a certification from a member board of The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), that certification is not worth much of anything. Furthermore, if you ARE certified - but are certified by The American Board of Emergency Medicine or The American Board of Family Practice - How exactly does that qualify you to PRACTICE Plastic Surgery? Would you go to a orthopedic surgeon to deliver your baby?
Read http://www.cosmeticsurgeryspecialists.org/realboardcertification.html for a very comprehensive review.
If you do not want to bother too much, pick a member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (www.plasticsurgery.org) - EACH one is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and has been scrutinized prior to being invited to join this society which is devoted to patient safety, education and ethical conduct of its member surgeons.
Peter A Aldea, MD, FACS