Is Board Certification Really Important?
As a consumer, how do you actually begin your search for a well-trained and experienced Plastic Surgeon? I am asked this question on a daily basis and the answer is one that can make all the difference when it comes to trusting a physician with your body and with your future look.
During medical training, I was exposed to a wide range of physicians from a number of specialties. And while many of these physicians were good at what they did, a few were truly exceptional. But one of the baseline criteria that I found really separated the really good physicians was whether or not they were Board Certified in their specialty.
To become board certified, there are a number of requirements that test not only a physicians’ knowledge base but also his ethics and his ability to practice medicine safely within his discipline. The American Board of Plastic Surgery has a very stringent requirement that any of its applicants must not only complete an accredited training program in Plastic Surgery but also that they then must pass both a written as well as an oral examination to be considered for certification.
To begin the process, each candidate must successfully complete the written examination, after which they can apply to take the Oral Examination. This second part requires not only examination by select members of Plastic Surgery peers but also careful review of the physician’s case log to date as well as letters of recommendation from other Board Certified Plastic Surgeons. As such, certification evaluates not only academic knowledge but also considers the ethics and professionalism of each candidate.
This process is time consuming and is far from easy which is why some potential candidates choose to never seek Board Certification. That being said, you should ask yourself if you really want to put your health in the hands of someone who has taken the proverbial “easy way out” and bypassed the certification process. Ask yourself if you really want to trust someone who doesn’t allow themselves to be examined and to be tested by their peers to take care of you.
As someone who has gone through this process, I can tell you that there were many times that I wanted to give up and many times that I didn’t see the value in Board Certification. However, I felt it was my duty to my patients to hold myself up to the highest standard and achieve Board Certification.
So why would your Plastic Surgeon not be Board Certified?
1. They tried and they didn’t pass:
a. Of those taking the 2012 Written Examination, 13.4 did not pass while the failure rate for the Oral Examination of the same year was higher at 22.2%.
2. They never took the time to go through the certification process:
a. The process to achieve Board Certification in Plastic Surgery takes several years and a crazy amount of effort. Because of this, some physicians opt out of the process and choose to simply call themselves
“Plastic Surgeons” and hope that their patients never inquire about their Board Certification status. Given the amount of time necessary to build a new practice and the increasingly competitive nature of the field, this is unfortunately becoming more common among some of the newer physicians who either do not appreciate the value of certification or who simply choose to take the easy way out.
3. They are not really a Plastic Surgeon:
a. The newest trend in marketing is for non-Plastic Surgeons to call themselves “Plastic Surgeons” and then claim Board Certification by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. And while there are many good physicians who participate in Cosmetic Surgery, they are not Plastic Surgeons and either did not complete formal training in Plastic Surgery or simply never achieved board certification.
b. Some of the most visible cosmetic surgeons nationwide are just that because of flashy marketing alone and not because of any skill, talent, or expertise. Trust me. I’ve treated a ton of botched jobs from non-qualified physicians who had little to no training in the area that they were practicing. A weekend course is no replacement for formalized training and years of experience so know who and what your surgeon really is before signing up with anyone. After all, you wouldn’t want your Plastic Surgeon to deliver your baby so why would you want your OB-GYN to augment your breasts?
c. Keep in mind that the governing body for official Board Certification is the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBMS). While some physicians may claim certification by a variety of non-accredited boards (e.g.: American Board of Cosmetic Surgery), these boards are often not regulated and can be achieved merely by sending in a check.
When choosing a Plastic Surgeon, who you choose can affect your look and potentially your health for years to come. With this in mind, do not be influenced by cut-rate cosmetic surgery centers or flashy offers and never let price be the only decision point. It costs far more to fix a bad result than it does to get the job done right the first time around. Many of these bargain surgeons offer bargains simply because they are either not busy or need patients to gain more experience. And while there is never any guarantee on outcomes, your best bet is always to go with experience and certification in the area you are interested in. If you are looking to have your breasts augmented, choose a surgeon who actually specializes in this area. The same applies for any other procedures such as a nose job, facelift, body lift, liposuction or whatever. Make the right decision the first time around and the odds are that you will be much happier in the long run.
I hope this information was helpful and look forward to hearing from you. To learn if your Plastic Surgeon is Board Certified, simply CLICK HERE. A few extra minutes of research can often be the difference between a result that you treasure and one that may require years of revision. In the end, it’s your body. So choose wisely!
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We look forward to working with you!