After medical school, surgeons must complete an internship, a residency, and pass an exam to get a license to practice medicine in their state or country. To specialize in plastic surgery, a surgeon can also choose to be board-certified, which requires additional, extensive, specialized training and passing an exam specific to plastic surgery.
A surgeon can choose to get board-certified for many different specialties so it’s important to know that your surgeon is board-certified specifically for plastic surgery and by an accredited organization (as outlined below).
- In the US, the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to certify surgeons in the specialty of plastic surgery. By choosing a plastic surgeon certified by the ABPS, you can be assured that the surgeon has completed the appropriate training and passed comprehensive written and oral examinations covering all plastic surgery procedures. You can check whether your plastic surgeon is board-certified by ABPS by visiting www.abplasticsurgery.org.
- In Canada, you can look for certification by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCSC).
- International plastic surgeons should be board certified in their country of origin and be a member of ISAPS and IPRAS.
Board-certification from an accredited board is important because it means your surgeon has specialized training and experience specifically in plastic surgery. Therefore, your surgeon is more qualified in plastic surgery than surgeons who are not board-certified in plastic surgery.
Do not be confused by other official-sounding boards and certifications. Some surgeons may advertise that they are “certified” but may not be certified by a board approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties, such as the pre-eminent American Board of Plastic Surgery. For example, The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is not an ABMS-approved board.
Additionally, some surgeons who perform plastic surgery may advertise that they are “certified” but their board-certification may not be in plastic surgery. A surgeon board-certified in another specialty, while qualified in that specialty, likely will not possess the education, training and experience of a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. For example, while OB/GYNs and plastic surgeons are all MDs, having an OB/GYN do your breast augmentation makes as much sense as having a plastic surgeon deliver your baby.
It is essential that you verify your surgeon is board-certified in plastic surgery by an accredited board, or you could be putting your health and safety at risk. Do not skip this step. The Aesthetic Society requires all its members to have the proper board-certification. If you want to ensure your surgeon is board-certified by an accredited organization, you can use our find a surgeon feature to search for a surgeon or verify your surgeon.