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“Board Certified”…let the buyer beware

January 14, 2014, 7:42 pm

So you are tired of that loose skin in your neck or those droopy eyelids and have made the decision to consult a plastic surgeon to see what can be done. Unfortunately, not everyone who claims to be a plastic surgeon is a plastic surgeon. Let the buyer beware. Some doctors board certified in specialties other than plastic surgery supplement their practices by performing plastic surgery procedures, sometimes claiming to be plastic surgeons. That can’t be legal, right? Wrong!

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), http://www.abms.org/About_ABMS is a not-for-profit organization established in 1933 to create uniformity in physician certification and to increase public awareness of the value of specialty certification. The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) https://www.abplsurg.org/ModDefault.aspx?section=AboutIntro is one of 24 member boards of ABMS founded to protect the public by assessing and certifying doctors who meet specific educational, training, and professional requirements.

Unfortunately, there are those who would use the public perception of plastic surgeons to their personal advantage. As you surf the net, you will find doctors describing themselves as “Facial Plastic Surgeons”, or “Ophthalmic Plastic Surgeons”, and claiming “Board Certification”. Here you have to learn to read between the lines. You might assume that a “Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon” is a fully trained plastic surgeon who has subspecialized in plastic surgery of the face…a reasonable assumption…but dead wrong. A “facial plastic surgeon” is, in fact, an otolaryngologist (ENT), who has self-bestowed the term “plastic surgeon”. There is no “American Board of Facial Plastic Surgery” listed among ABMS member boards. The same is true of the “ophthalmic plastic surgeon”, an ophthalmologist. There is now an abundance of “bogus boards” created to prey upon a trusting public. Unfortunately, this is all perfectly legal.

This creates (deliberately) much confusion among those seeking a qualified plastic surgeon, but there is a “Gold Standard” to which you can turn…the simple phrase “certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery”. That should be your starting point, from which you can use personal references and professional credentials to help you choose.
Mark D. Ball, M.D., F.A.C.S.

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