Should my Plastic Surgeon Be FACS Certified?

Doctor Answers 9

Important, but not necessary distinction

Hi there- I think that the most important qualifications to look for (and I would consider these absolute requirements were I looking for a plastic surgeon for myself or a loved one):

  • Training in an accredited PLASTIC SURGERY residency program. This means your surgeon spent years (not months) training under the direct supervision of other board certified plastic surgeons before calling themselves a plastic surgeon.
  • Board Certification by THE AMERICAN BOARD OF PLASTIC SURGERY. These surgeons have undergone one of the most stringent evaluation processes in the medical community, with a thorough evaluation of their judgement, training and experience, a comprehensive written exam, and a 2-day long oral examination (!).
  • Member in good standing of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons- this indicates that the surgeon additionally has pledged to adhere to the ethical principles and standards of care of The Society.
  • Member of The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery- this means the surgeon has dedicated a large portion of their time and energy to training in and performing aesthetic procedures.
  • Being a fellow of the American College of Surgeons means that the surgeon has also undergone a rigorous review of their training, experience, judgement, and surgical outcomes by a group of their surgical peers, and has been deemed to be practicing to The College's high standard of care. Not all surgeons apply for this distinction (my opinion is that all should). The College's motto says it best... "Dedicated to improving the care of the surgical patient and to safeguarding standars of care in an optimal and ethical practice environment".

Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 159 reviews

Not necessarily

A Fellow of the American College of Surgeons is a Board Certified surgeon in a wide variety of subspecialties who is in good standing and who has applied to the ACS for membership, submitted case lists and been approved by their governiong body. I am proud to have been accepted into membership in the ACS and sometimes use the designation FACS after my name.

However, being FACS doesn't necessarily mean that you are an excellent plastic surgeon who will give the patients the best result they can get. So while it is nice to see, don't place it very high on the list of things you will use to screen one doctor from another.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

It is not about your plastic surgeon's qualifications alone, but also about the person!

So who is better qualified to do your plastic surgery? Even though I am a Fellow of the American College of Surgeon (FACS), I do not think that this alone is enough to ensure you that you are choosing the best plastic surgeon. To me it is all about the individual surgeon and his/her quality of work. Do your homework and thoroughly check into your prospective plastic surgeon’s background:

  • Find out where he/she went to medical school, residency training, and fellowship training.
  • Confirm that she/he is board certified and by what organization. Investigate that organization. Unfortunately there are bogus boards out there whose qualifications for membership are shoddy. If a plastic surgeon is credentialed as a FACS, this means that he/she is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery which is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties and the AMA.
  • Find out about the surgeon’s professional experience by asking about his reputation, how many years he’s been in practice, and whether he’s had any medical malpractice suits.
  • Check into your state medical board to discover if there is a history of complaints, etc.
  • Look into the clinical experience of the surgeon and his/her clinical skills, by asking about the cosmetic procedure(s) that you are interested in. How many these procedures has he/she performed and over what period of time?
  • Look at before and after photographs. Ask if you can talk to present or former patients who have undergone the same procedure.
  • Following your consultation, does your prospective plastic surgeon leave you with a feeling of comfort and trust?

In summary, it is not about one’s qualifications alone but also about his/her clinical skills, experience, and personality. Thanks for your question. I hope this was helpful!

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon


Board certification and proper training is what you need to look for. The fellowship of the american college of surgeons does not mean additional training or verify the quality of the training. It simply means the surgeon is board certified and that he applied to the college and submitted enough documentation.

Hisham Seify, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

It is nice, but not a deal-breaker.

When finding a plastic surgeon, I would recommend you search for one who is certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgeons. You can find board-certified plastic surgeons in your community by searching or I am proud to be a member of The American College of Surgeons thus I will put FACS behind my name, however, you may find some surgeons who are not plastic surgeons that are a member of The American College of Surgeons. They may be certified in other specialties instead of plastic surgery. It does get confusing.

Sanjay Grover, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 224 reviews

Proud to be a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons

While Fellowship status in the American College of Surgeons (ACS) is indeed a true honor, it does not confer any additional skills or talents to your plastic surgeon. Instead, it indicates a committment to surgical training, ethics, and education that is a reflection of the ideals of the ACS.

The American College of Surgeons was founded in 1913 with its primary goal to standardize the education of surgeons and promote ethical behavior in an effort to better serve patients. Plastic surgeons who are Fellows in the College usually have a background in general surgery and are truly the minority of its membership.

Very few practicing plastic surgeons have membership in the College, but those of who do consider it to be a connection to the ideals, traditions, and morals of those giants who have come before us.

Brian K. Brzowski, MD, FACS
Ogden Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Not Necessarily...

 Thank you for the important question. 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 surgery 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.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,498 reviews

Should my plastic surgeon be FACS certified?

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.  Not necessary.  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!

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

Plastic surgeon qualifications

FACS represents being a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. While this is a nice honor, it is more important to be board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 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.