What is Board Certification?
Board certification is a mechanism to assure consumers that their board-certified physician has been tested and proved competent by a group (board) of other physicians in that field. There are 24 sub-specialty boards in the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) including, but not limited to, family physicians, internists, surgeons, plastic surgeons, cardiologists, neurosurgeons and others.
Who Certifies Plastic Surgeons?
The American Board of Plastic Surgery, a sub-group of the American Board of Medical Specialties, certifies plastic surgeons. To qualify, the candidate must be a licensed medical doctor who graduated from an accredited medical school and completed a minimum of 5 years of residency training in surgery, a minimum of two years of which are dedicated exclusively to plastic surgery (both cosmetic and reconstructive). The surgeon must also pass comprehensive written and oral examinations, provide photographic proof of their skills, and references from respected plastic surgeons. The candidate’s professional reputation, ethics and character are also evaluated prior to board certification.
ASPS and the ASAPS
ASPS stands for American Society of Plastic Surgeons. ASAPS stands for the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Membership in both organizations is strictly reserved for board certified plastic surgeons. If you are considering a plastic surgery procedure, seeing either or both of these logos is your assurance that the physician is, indeed, board certified in plastic surgery.
The AACS and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery
The AACS, American Academy of Cosmetic Surgeons, is a membership organization composed of physicians who focus on cosmetic surgery. Unlike the ASPS and the ASAPS, there is no requirement to be board certified in plastic surgery or in any subspecialty. Most members represent other specialties, and have either “switched” from those professions to perform cosmetic surgery or they perform cosmetic surgery in addition to their primary field, such as the aforementioned pediatricians who inject Botox® and dermal fillers. These specialists either do not have the additional training as plastic surgeons or have elected not to undergo the scrutiny of board certification with the ABPS (American Board of Plastic Surgery, the subset group of the ABMS).
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is not part of the American Board of Medical Specialties. It is a “board” created by members of the AACS to add legitimacy to their field of practice, ie, cosmetic surgery. Notice that the title “cosmetic surgeon” almost always indicates a physician who is not board certified in plastic surgery.
Why is Board Certification Important?
Imagine needing a heart surgeon. Would you want a family doctor who also performed heart operations to do your surgery or a board certified heart surgeon who had undergone years of extra training and evaluation by an outside body to certify that they were qualified to perform numerous types of heart surgery, including the surgery you needed? Hiring an OB/GYN to perform your breast augmentation, tummy tuck or liposuction; or hiring a pediatrician to inject your Botox® or fillers is essentially the same dynamic. Although that family doctor, pediatrician or OB/GYN might be board certified in their field, unless they are board certified in plastic surgery, they are not a true plastic surgeon, and do not possess the many years of training and experience of one.
If you desire the skill and experience of a thoroughly trained plastic surgeon, of which I am one, there is no substitute. Our broad-based training of both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery procedures, our verification by an outside board composed of respected elders in our field, point to an experience that cannot be duplicated by those who lack it. Don’t be fooled by second-tier certifications or memberships. When you see the words “board certified,” ask what board certified that surgeon. Assuming the surgeon is board certified in plastic surgery could result in results that you won’t appreciate.
As you can see, board certification is an important aspect in choosing a plastic surgeon. Indiana men and women seeking cosmetic enhancements can see me in consultation at either my Valparaiso or Schererville office. Just phone us at 800-721-2344 or complete this discreet online consultation form. I’ll be happy to advise you on the options you can take to feel better about your body.
To your health & beauty,
Gus Galante, MD
Board Certified Indiana Plastic Surgeon