Would you let your dermatologist remove your gallbladder or deliver your baby? Would you get on an airplane if you knew that the person flying it was a helicopter pilot who just took a weekend course to learn to fly a plane? Of course not! Then why would you go to a gynecologist or emergency medicine physician for cosmetic surgery?Any doctor, in any specialty, can call themselves a “cosmetic surgeon,” and the law allows any licensed physician to do any procedure regardless of their specialty. Unfortunately, this makes it hard for a patient to decide how qualified the doctor is to do the procedure. There is only one specialty that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties for cosmetic surgery of the face and body, and that is Plastic Surgery.
But isn’t a “cosmetic surgeon” the same as a Plastic Surgeon? No! The difference is in the training and experience, and the best way to ensure that you are choosing a doctor who is qualified to perform cosmetic surgical procedures on the face and body is to choose a Plastic Surgeon who has been certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). As a patient you have the right and responsibility to determine whether the doctor you are seeing has been certified by the ABPS. If they aren’t, ask why. If they can’t give you a good reason, find a doctor who is.
How can I determine if my doctor is certified by the ABPS? The best place to start is the Board’s official website: www.abplsurg.org. Click on the “Is your surgeon certified” link on the left side of the page. If they aren’t listed, they aren’t a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. It’s that simple. Another website, www.certificationmatters.org, is a good place to check the board certification status of any physician.