Americans spent an estimated $16 billion on plastic surgery in 2016, and that number is likely to grow in 2017. Most of these patients requested minimally invasive procedures or cosmetic surgery treatments. Thanks to this level of demand, more doctors are providing cosmetic surgery. With more service providers, there is growing confusion among consumers on terms like “cosmetic surgeon” and “plastic surgeon”, especially when these titles tend to be used interchangeably. What many prospective patients don’t know is that the qualifications and credentials of a cosmetic surgeon are quite different from that of a plastic surgeon.
A study in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ journal highlights this issue. The study was an online survey involving more than 5,000 participants. Results of the survey showed that a full 87 percent of the respondents held the misconception that special training was a basic requirement for a doctor being permitted to advertise themselves as a plastic or cosmetic surgeon.
Adding to this issue is the growing number of doctors who may not be trained in performing cosmetic surgery. When determining which provider is the most skilled and therefore best qualified to offer plastic surgery procedures, it is essential to review their credentials. Ensuring a safe, effective procedure that achieves the desired outcome is critical, and plastic surgeons have completed extensive, specific training in both cosmetic and reconstructive techniques.
What does it mean to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)? It means that the doctor has undergone no fewer than six years of specialized, intensive training to achieve their professional designation. This rigorous program involves completing a degree at an accredited medical school, finishing three years of general surgical training and then working through a two to three year plastic surgery residency program. The residency is followed up by two years of practice and successfully passing challenging written and oral exams administered by the ABPS.
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is responsible for overseeing and approving ABPS accreditation. Accordingly, they recognize board certifications issued by the ABPS. The high standards set by the ABMS ensures that patients are less likely to experience complications and more likely to see successful outcomes.
Reviewing board certification is one credential that patients should always check. Patients also can make more informed decisions by reviewing before and after photographs of patients who had a similar body type and a similar procedure performed. Seeing the successful results by other people can help new patients choose the right surgeon.