The term “Board Certification” is confusing, and not all board certifications are the same but if you are choosing a plastic surgeon, knowing which Board Certification he or she has is very important.
Cosmetic surgery has become so popular that many non-plastic surgeons are performing cosmetic surgery, such as obstetricians, dermatologists, general surgeons and dentists with maxillofacial backgrounds. To be able to be considered “Board Certified”, these physicians created the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) in 1982. This board certification has less training requirements than the American Board of Plastic Surgeons.
Plastic surgeons are boarded by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). This means that they have undergone the most extensive training and have proven themselves after two additional years in practice by taking a comprehensive written and oral examination. The ABPS was established in 1931 and has the largest membership of over 7,000.
The American Board of Plastic Surgeons requires at least two years of plastic surgical training after general surgery training, or three years of plastic surgical training after ENT training. Then there are two additional years of practice which is analyzed for proof of ongoing expertise in plastic surgery.
Cosmetic surgeons (who are not plastic surgeons) are NOT recognized by the ABMS, and do not have the same training requirements.. If a surgeon uses the term “cosmetic surgeon” or “aesthetic surgeon”, they are likely not a plastic surgeon.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery requires only one year of cosmetic fellowship. It requires no prerequisite training in plastic surgery. This fellowship is undertaken without the benefit of the two to three years of plastic surgical training. Dermatologists, General Surgeons, Obsteticians, Ophthalmologists, ENT, and Dentists with maxillofacial training may be boarded in cosmetic surgery within one year of their training. There is also a provision for this board certification without the cosmetic fellowship at all, if the surgeon submits enough cosmetic surgical cases to pass the exams.
To verify a physician’s board status, contact the American Board of Plastic Surgery at (215) 587-9322. You may also contact the American Board of Medical Specialties at (800) 776-2378 or www.abms.com.
Or, just look for the symbol shown above; this symbol indicates Board Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Dr.Gregory Diehl is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon specializing in Plastic Surgery, located in Port Jefferson Station, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York.