This term is emphasized by everyone. I keep hammering at my readers that they must choose only a board-certified physician for their cosmetic surgery procedures. Why? Certification by a board is achieved only after strict screening and you are more likely to receive quality care.
But how do you make sure that the doctor you are talking to is truly board certified?
According to Michigan plastic surgeon Richard Hainer, ‘Board certified’ means little unless the board itself is named and is valid. Most states allow any licensed M.D. to advertise under “Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons” without being certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons (ABPS) or equivalent. Moreover, in most states, physicians may perform any procedures they choose, whether or not they’ve had training in that operation.
On the other hand, if a surgeon is ABPS certified, he or she has at least five years of extra training in general surgery after receiving the M.D. degree. Then, the physician usually undergoes another two years of intensive plastic surgery training. “To become board certified in plastic surgery, a board of highly experienced surgeons examines all operations done by the candidate/surgeon in the second year of practice,” Dr. Hainer says. “The examiners scrutinize everything.” The next hurdle is a three-day oral exam. When the candidate passes, he or she can then advertise the certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
But what about other boards?
Well, some crooks who could not get certified by ABPS made up their own boards. Many such boards are not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties because they don’t test the surgeon’s skills and knowledge. “Any person or group can create a board and issue ertificates,” Dr. Hainer says. “Currently, there are about 102 such self-designated boards.” Examples include: The American Board of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, The American Board of Laser Surgery, and The American Board of Plastic Esthetic Surgeons. Scary; isn’t it?
Also check privileges at a local hospital
Another major clue to a surgeon’s abilities is found in local hospital privileges. Hospitals have credentials committees — composed of other local physicians — who grant permission for surgeons to perform only the procedures for which they are qualified. The physician’s performance is then subjected to peer review by the committee. If the quality of care is found to be lackluster, privileges can be withdrawn. So apart from checking with the ABPS, you can also make a quick call to an area hospital, ask for the medical staff office and reconfirm the physician’s privileges. If a surgeon wants to perform an in-office procedure, make sure the doctor also has privileges to do that operation in the hospital.