Today more than ever, all types of physicians, from Emergency Rooms doctors, to OB-GYN’s, are getting in to the lucrative field of plastic surgery. However, the results can be devastating… from botched surgeries to sometimes even death. It’s not uncommon these days to see news headlines detailing recent plastic surgery mishaps and mistakes. Often times these mistakes are the fault of the doctor who may not be board certified in plastic surgery.
By Carolynn Grimes
The Plastic Surgery Channel
“I think a lot of doctors are jumping on board the plastic surgery band wagon because it’s easy money,” says Gaile Willard, a plastic surgery patient. When Gaile decided she wanted facial fillers, she turned to the internet to research a board certified plastic surgeon. She knew the importance of finding someone board certified because she works in a field where certification matters and knew that it was even more important for plastic surgery. “Many people may not be as informed. They don’t know what to look for and they may not even be sure what board certification means,” says Gaile.
Dr. Lou Bucky, a board certified plastic surgeon from Philadelphia says Gaile is on the right track by doing her research. He says there are three basic questions you should ask when looking for a plastic surgeon.
- Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic surgery?
- Do you have an affiliation with a hospital?
- How many of these operations do you perform each year?
State Laws are Laid-Back
State laws permit any licensed physician to call themselves a “plastic” or “cosmetic” surgeon, even if they not been trained as a plastic surgeon. Patients must select their doctor carefully, says Dr. Bruce Van Natta, a board certified plastic surgeon in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Sometimes if you don’t ask the question specifically, they’ll say, ‘Oh yes, I’m board certified’, well they may be board certified in Ob-Gyn or Family practice. That’s nice, but what does that have to do with plastic surgery?”
Bogus Boards: How to Know the Difference
Even when all the right questions are asked, there can still be problems. That’s because there’s a lot of bogus boards out there, says Dr. Robert Grant, a board certified plastic surgeon in New York City.
We found the concept of bogus boards to be true. We looked at the credentials of several popular physicians’ websites that happen to do plastic surgery. It showed they were board certified in things like Anti-Aging and Regenerative medicine, but found nothing on the website about being board certified in plastic surgery. While many of these titles sound impressive, they don’t necessarily mean a physician is qualified to do plastic surgery. The term cosmetic surgery is also a mixed bag and there are boards that claim certification for various types of cosmetic surgery.
This can make the process of finding the right physician extremely confusing for the patient. “Unfortunately this means the patient has to follow the buyer beware philosophy. There are a lot of boards that have official sounding names that don’t have the same requirements as being board certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery. Some of them all you have to do is send a check and they’ll send you back a nice certificate for framing,” says Grant.
The Right Logo…
If you don’t see logos for the or the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) or American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) on a doctor’s website, you may want to think twice before jumping in to a procedure that could be a potential problem for the rest of your life or even worse, take your life. These logos, mean the doctor is not only certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery, but have undergone the proper prerequisite plastic surgery training and passed rigorous examinations.
Board-certified plastic surgeons have to complete a minimum of five years of surgical training following medical school, including a plastic surgery residency program. So before considering any type of cosmetic procedure, Gaile’s advice is do a lot of research, talk to other patients, find a board certified plastic surgeon and most importantly look for the logo!