Where to Check Plastic Surgeon Credentials and Qualifications?

where might I go to check out a physician's past training, years in practice, etc. Also, the new "hot" plastic surgeon in NY has a great reputation, but is only 41 yrs. old. Having physicians in my own family, I know most don't finish final training until their mid-thirties. I your opinion, has someone this young had enough experience. Thank you so much

Doctor Answers 6

Checking the Credentials of your Plastic Surgeon

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An individual who is interested in an aesthetic enhancement should seek a surgically-trained cosmetic surgeon that has knowledge of (and experience with) a wide range of both surgical and non-surgical techniques.
There is only ONE organization that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties which certifies cosmetic surgeons: The American Board of Plastic Surgery. Over the last several years there has been a proliferation of “Boards” with titles that include words such as “Plastic” and “Cosmetic” in them. Aside from The American Board of Plastic Surgery, NONE of these “Boards” are recognized by The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Visit the ABMS website to see which specialties have ABMS recognition.

It is important that your physician has hospital priveleges for the procedure you are interested in having performed. A hospital has access to information and records that the general public does not. Hospitals also have tremendous exposure to liability for cosmetic surgery procedures performed within them. They therefore will only grant surgical privileges to physicians that can demonstrate appropriate training and experience.
Although many aesthetic cosmetic surgery procedures are not performed in hospital operating rooms, the fact that a hospital has granted a surgeon privileges for a given procedure ensures that the surgeon has met an accepted standard of competence. It also means that your surgeon will be able to take care of you at a hospital should any complications from cosmetic surgery arise.
If you are planning to have cosmetic surgery performed, you should do your due diligence to determine if your surgeon has the appropriate credentials. When considering plastic surgery it is wise to also checkc with the medical board in your state to obtain information about your surgeon
Michael Law MD
Raleigh, North Carolina Plastic Surgeon

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

What does a board certified plastic surgeon have to do?

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I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Law and Dr. Salemy. Many people are confused about what training a board certified plastic surgeon has received and confused about what a board certified plastic surgeon is. Here's the breakdown:

1. Finish College

2. Finish Medical School -> now you're an MD - you can perform medical procedures and medical evaluation under a training program license. Most training programs provide malpractice insurance. You cannot practice medicine on your own (legally) in any state in the US without additional training.

3. Finish Residency training in a particular field -> now you can become licensed. - Once you are licensed you can "hang a shingle" and begin practicing. You can apply for hospital privileges, participate in insurance programs (blue cross) and practice medicine.

This is where people (rightfully so) begin to get confused. ANY MD can perform ANY medical procedure. (This is CERTAINLY NOT to say they should, but legally they can). So an OB-GYN can perform a brain tumor excision.

Now there are limits that can be imposed by hospitals (most hospitals will not grant privileges outside of your training). But surgery centers and certainly private offices may not have these restrictions. And if a physician is sued for practices outside of training they may be dropped by an insurance carrier. (you also need to pass three certification exams between medical school and residency to become license eligible).

4. Board Certification For plastic surgery there is only one recognized certification and that is the American Board Of Plastic Surgery. To be board certified a physician must:

A. Graduate from a recognized plastic surgery residency;

B. Apply for the boards and take and pass a written test;

C. Collect cases for nine months (this was increased this year from six) after which time these cases are reviewed and if deemed to be of appropriate standards a second oral exam is given about selected cases the physician has performed and unknown cases. Then they can say they are a board certified plastic surgeon.

Plastic surgeons board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery have undergone the strictest review and certification available for both technique, judgement and ethics.

I hope this helps.

Steven Williams, MD

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Credentials

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Plastic surgeons vary in their education and training. When choosing a plastic surgeon, you should consider the following points:

  • How comfortable are you when you speak to them
  • Do they listen to your questions
  • Are you confident they can manage complications, if they occur
  • Are they taking any shortcuts.

In terms of credentials, ask the office about the following checklist:

  • Is the surgeon Board Certified in Plastic Surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery
  • College education?
  • Medical school education?
  • General Surgery training?
  • Plastic Surgery training?
  • What area does the plastic surgeon focus on.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

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All Board Certifications are not the same

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There are many online sources that can help you find the information you're looking for.

Remember that there are a lot of doctors out there that say they are "Board Certified", but there is only one plastic surgery board that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, and that is the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In order to be Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the surgeon must be admitted to and complete training at a fully accredited American plastic surgery training program (residency or fellowship) for several years, pass a written exam, be in practice, and then pass a 3 day oral exam, during which his own personal surgical results are scrutinized by a team of experts. This process takes a couple of years to complete after the training is finished, so it is no easy task, and it is no surprise that some surgeons choose not to undertake this process (even some that become TV celebrities...).

The websites that may be of help to you include:

American Board of Medical Specialties-- you can put any doctor's name in their database and it will tell you if they are Board Certified and by which Board (Plastic Surgery, Dermatology, Otolaryngology, Family Practice, etc)

American Board of Plastic Surgery-- this will give you some info on Board Certified Plastic Surgeons

In reference to the second part of your question, I don't think there is an absolute age cutoff that is too young or too old. It really comes down to the individual, their training, their certifications, their results, and ultimately your comfort level with them. You can have an outstanding result with someone who is 35, 65 or anywhere in between, but you have to do your homework first to make sure they're the right surgeon for you.

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 155 reviews

Plastic Surgeon Qualifications and Credentials

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The situation is obvioulsy different in the USA, but in the UK, MB BS, MB BCh or MB ChB is the basic medical degree of any doctor. Your plastic ‘surgeon’ should at least be a ‘surgeon’. Doctors who receive adequate ‘basic’ surgical training in the UK are awarded Fellowship (FRCSI, FRCS, FRCS Ed, FRCS Gl - in the older generation of surgeons) or Membership (MRCS - in the younger generation of surgeons) of the Royal Colleges in the UK. Doctors or Surgeons, who believe in having a scientific foundation to their practice, spend further years doing research in their fields and are awarded Research degrees such as MSc, MMedSc, MPhil, MD or PhD.Surgeons who ‘train specifically in the field of Plastic surgery’ are awarded FRCS (Plast). These surgeons are then entitled to be on the “Specialist register for Plastic Surgery” with the General Medical Council (GMC).

‘Safe’ and ‘beautiful’ results are dependent on ‘experience’ and ‘expertise’ of your plastic surgeon. For this you need a adequately trained and experienced plastic surgeon. Generally speaking, plastic surgeons in the UK who are either NHS consultants or have been NHS consultants have been through the adequate training necessary to be appointed in the NHS. If your surgeon is a full member of associations such as the British Association of Plastic Surgeons (BAPRAS), British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), International confederation of Plastic Surgeons (IPRAS), American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), Association of Breast Surgeons (ABS) and is on the Specialist register for plastic surgery with the General Medical Council (GMC) it is further evidence that he or she is properly qualified and it is a reassurance for you that you are in safe hands as membership of these assocaitations are only awarded to eligible surgeons who have adequately trained.

In addition to this, it obviuolsy helps if your surgeon has travelled the world to enhance his training in premier institutes to learn from leading surgeons in their fields. It also helps if your surgeon believes in practising "evidence based medicine" by engaging in research activities to help establish a scientific background to his / her clincial practice.

Checking Credentials

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Generally speaking, a 41 year old Surgeon will have been out of training about 7-8 years, which is a fair amount of experience.  Most patients I see are most focused on specialization.  When considering facial rejuvenation, although board certification by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery or the American Board of Plastic Surgery is an important first step, it is a long way from determining whether you are seeing the right Surgeon.  The critical aspect of your Surgeon is how many procedures (such as facelifts) he/she performs per year, how impressed you are with the results, office staff, reputation, and demeanor of the Surgeon.  If you still aren't sure, ask to speak to a few previous patients.  The majority of patients I see and perform surgery on choose me because I focus on facial rejuvenation in my practice.  Although society memberships are nice, they are far less important than the practice history and reputation of your prospective board certified Facial Plastic Surgeon

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 104 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.