Finding the right plastic surgeon for your chosen procedure can be overwhelming. A recent study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons published in the November issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that many patients are unaware of the difference between the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, a board that requires less training and qualifications in order to obtain certification.
Researchers reviewed the training backgrounds of doctors who advertise themselves as certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, which is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The study looked at the residency training history and advertised scope of practice for 342 physicians certified by ABCS. “Our review of ABCS diplomate training backgrounds revealed nearly ten percent of ABCS members were not even trained in a surgical discipline,” they wrote.
They also found that many “cosmetic surgeons” were practicing procedures like liposuction, tummy tucks, breast augmentations and buttock augmentations out of scope. This refers to a physician practicing medicine outside of the scope of their particular specialty, like a general practitioner advertising tummy tucks or a cardiologist performing facial procedures.
The study noted examples of “out of scope” procedures being performed by doctors without the proper training:
An OBGYN, pediatrician or internal medicine doctor performing any aesthetic surgery
A facial plastic surgeon performing any surgical procedure below the neck
A general surgeon performing any cosmetic face or body surgery
A dermatologist performing any surgical procedures not including liposuction, Mohs surgery or skin lesions
“When selecting an aesthetic surgeon, many patients place trust in knowing their surgeon is a ‘board-certified’ plastic surgeon,” wrote the study coauthors. “Many patients falsely assume all surgeons must be board-certified in plastic surgery in order to perform cosmetic procedures.”
To give an idea of the vast differences between training requirements, an ABMS board-certified plastic surgeon will have completed at least six years of surgical training and must perform thousands of various types of cosmetic and reconstructive surgical procedures. They must also pass extensive written and oral exams and commit to continuing their education throughout their career.
According to the study, an ABCS board-certification only entails one year of surgical training, 300 procedures and one written and oral examination completed during a single weekend. There are also no continuing medical education requirements.
In order to make sure your chosen plastic surgeon is appropriately trained to perform your procedure, first check to ensure that the board they are certified by is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
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