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Definition of "Board Certification in Plastic Surgery"

 

 

Board certified simply means a physician has been given a Board Certification by an organization called a "Board". This includes formally recognized entities such as  the American Board of Plastic Surgery but may include unrecognized boards. This can create significant confusion with the terms.

 

Board Certified in Plastic Surgery means that a surgeon has been awarded "Board Certification" by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

 

Board Certification in Plastic Surgery is awarded only after finishing the following:

  • A formal residency in Plastic Surgery

  • Passing a rigorous written examination (usually taken 6 or 18 months after completion of all training)

  • A difficult oral examination which includes cases from a surgeon's own practice (usually taken at least 18 months following completion of all training).

 

 

 

To be allowed to sit for these exams for the Board of Plastic Surgery, a surgeon must have completed:

  • College (usually 4 years)

  • Medical School (usually 4 years)

  • Internship in General Surgery (1 year)

  • Residency in either General Surgery, Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Urology or Neurosurgery (usually 4 to 7 more years)*

  • Additional residency in Plastic Surgery (2 to 3 more years)*

  • Additional fellowships (specializations) may be performed in addition to the above training

  • A combined residency of 3 or more years of general surgery plus 3 years of plastic surgery now is also accepted.

 

 

 

Board Certification in Plastic Surgery can only be awarded by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

 

Board Certification in Plastic Surgery can not be awarded by any other organization.

 

 

No other board can give the distinction of "Board Certified Plastic Surgeon" including the following:

  • The American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (approved training in plastic surgery in the area of the head and neck only, formal plastic surgery training encouraged but not required)

  • The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (not a recognized Board by the ABMS, no formal plastic surgery fellowship required)

  • The State Medical Board (grants medical licenses, not board certifications). These organizations do not require formal residency training in plastic surgery.

 

 

 

An easy way to confirm your surgeon is Board Certified in Plastic Surgery is to look for the symbol of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)

 

Only members of the ASPS may display this symbol and ALL members of the ASPS are required to be Board Certified in Plastic Surgery.

 

American Society of Plastic Surgeons Logo

 

  • Only Plastic Surgeons awarded Board Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery may state "Board Certified in Plastic Surgery".

  • It is known that physicians who are not Board Certified in Plastic Surgery may still state simply "Board Certified" without specifying by whom they are certified. They may advertise plastic surgery but only have a Board in another field, such as General Surgery or Pediatrics, or may make statements such as "Cosmetic Surgery Board Certified", "Board Certified by the State Medical Board" etc.  

  • These doctors may not display the above displayed ASPS symbol and may not state specifically "Board Certified in Plastic Surgery."

  • Only surgeons awarded Board Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery may state specifically "Board Certified in Plastic Surgery."

  • Do not be afraid about asking your doctor about their Board Certification. Any legitimately Board Certified physician is happy to be asked about this and will freely review their credentials. Board Certifications of any physician also can be confirmed easily on the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) website.

 

 

 

 

Not all physicians claiming to be plastic surgeons are Board Certified in Plastic Surgery:

  • Any licensed physician legally can call himself or herself a cosmetic surgeon.

  • Some may be on track for Board Certification in Plastic Surgery but may not yet have accumulated the cases or practice requirements after plastic surgery training, which may take several years.

  • Many doctors are in practice today who claim to be "Plastic Surgeons" and have not, and never will, finish a Plastic Surgery residency. Some may have finished training but cannot pass their exams, or may have other reasons for not finishing the requirements for Board Certification in Plastic Surgery.

  • In the United States, physicians are generally licensed as "medical practitioners" (for example given their medical license) by the State Medical Board. Federal laws do not govern the quality of specialty training or dictate the procedures a physician may aspire to perform.
  • In effect, a medical school graduate with a medical license can legally claim to be a specialist of his or her own choosing, with or without residency training in that specialty.

  • This means that, legally, even a doctor only trained in another field, such as general surgery, can legally place breast implants, or a pediatrician can legally do facial lasers or legally even perform procedures such as brain surgery.

  • Institutions, such as hospitals, will grant privileges (the allowance to perform certain procedures) only to properly trained physicians. For that reason, a hospital will only allow a Plastic Surgeon to perform breast implants just as it would only allow a neurosurgeon to perform brain surgery.

  • Physicians who have their own surgery centers are not subject to such oversight. Here, physicians who have not had specialized training are legally allowed to perform procedures outside of their area. This is why the consumer / patient must carefully check their doctor's training and background.

  • The state licensing boards, such as the Medical Board of California, grant a medical license only.

  • Contrary to some claims, the state medical boards do not grant Board Certification. As a result, a doctor can be licensed but not "board certified" by the Medical Board of California.

 

 

Only the major specialty boards, such as the American Board of Plastic Surgery, can grant Board Certifications in major specialties. Major specialty boards include boards such as the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, the American Board of Pediatrics etc. The organization which oversees the major boards is the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The 24 member boards, as well as the names of every board certified physician in every ABMS recognized specialty can be found on the ABMS website within weeks of that physician's Board Certification.

 

 

 

The American Board of Plastic Surgery is one of only 24 accredited specialty boards recognized by the American Board of Specialties.

These are the major specialty Boards such as:

  • Cardiology

  • Pediatrics

  • Internal medicine

 

The American Board of Plastic Surgery, Inc. was organized in June 1937 by representatives of various groups interested in this type of surgery and received recognition as a subsidiary of the American Board of Surgery in May 1938. The American Board of Plastic Surgery, Inc. was given the status of a major specialty board in May 1941 by action of the Advisory Board for Medical Specialties.

 

American Board of Plastic Surgery Logo

 

Any Diplomat of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, Inc. will have met the Board's educational and plastic surgery training requirements.

Specific clinical training is provided in the following areas:

  • Congenital defects of the head and neck, including clefts of the lip and palate, and craniofacial surgery

  • Neoplasms of the head and neck, including the oropharynx and training in appropriate endoscopy

  • Crania-maxillofacial trauma, including fractures of the mandible and maxilla

  • Aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery of the head and neck, trunk and extremities

  • Plastic surgery of the breast

  • Surgery of the hand/upper extremities

  • Plastic surgery of the lower extremities

  • Plastic surgery of congenital and acquired defects of the trunk and genitalia

  • Burn management, acute and reconstructive

  • Microsurgical techniques applicable to plastic surgery

  • Reconstruction by tissue transfer including flaps and grafts

  • Surgery of benign and malignant lesions of the skin and soft tissues.

 

 

 

 

The American Board of Otolaryngology (ABOto) was founded and incorporated in 1924, and is the second oldest of the twenty-four member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

Five years of training in an ACGME accredited program is required. Then, successful completion of both a written and oral exam is required to achieve certification.

 

The American Board of Otolaryngology Logo

 

Board Certification in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery is awarded only after finishing the following:

  • A formal residency in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck surgery

  • Passing rigorous written and oral examinations (usually taken 6 to 12 months after completion of residency).

 

To be allowed to sit for the exams for Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, a surgeon must have completed:

  • College (usually 4 years)

  • Medical School (usually 4 years)

  • Internship in General Surgery (1 year)

  • Residency in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (usually 4 to 5 more years)

  • Additional fellowships (specializations) may be performed in addition to the above training

 

Specialists in Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery are trained in the following areas:

  • General Otolaryngology

  • Head and Neck (Cancer) Surgery

  • Otology / Neuro-Otology (hearing mechanisms and associated structures)

  • Rhinology (Sinus diseases and nasal airway)

  • Pediatric Otolaryngology

  • Laryngology (Voice, Speech and Breathing)

  • Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

 

 

 

 

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