Is your plastic surgeon one of the eight thousand?

If you talk about plastic surgery for any length of time, you’ll probably hear about the importance of board certification.  Why is this important?

Board certification is the hallmark of a specialist.

If you are a physician, and you are NOT board-certified, it means that you are not officially recognized as a specialist in any established field of medicine or surgery.  “Board-certified” means that the physician has: 1) successfully completed an approved residency training program in their field, 2) been recommended by the Program Director to take the Board examinations, and have completed both the 3) written exam and 4) the oral examination, along with the requisite number of surgical cases to go along with this process.

It’s really a pretty big deal…and fairly stressful for the young physicians taking the exams, too.  Not many physicians complete the whole rigorous training process in plastic surgery, which takes about 15 years of post-secondary education.  In my field, since the beginning of the whole plastic surgery exam process over 75 years ago, only 8119 people have passed the Plastic Surgery Boards.  That’s just a handful, compared to the number of physicians in the United States.

You might think that since these days, since there seems to be a cosmetic surgeon on every street corner and television show, that the number would be a lot higher – but no, there’s relatively few “real board-certified plastic surgeons”.  We’re actually one of the smallest specialties, by number.  Only eight thousand of us have ever existed. But there’s a whole lot of physicians that wish they were plastic surgeons, or dabble on the edges of the field of plastic surgery.  That’s why it’s important to ask about your physician’s credentials.

Next time you are seeing someone for a cosmetic procedure, ask if he or she is a real plastic surgeon.  Are they certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?  It really does matter.

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