Board Certification-May be a Life or Death Decision
USA Today recently featured a of series of articles on the dangers of non-board certified plastic surgeons performing plastic surgery, sometimes with deadly results.
Although we consistently send out information to our patients about the benefits of making sure to choose a board certified plastic surgeon when considering cosmetic surgery, the credentials of some self-appointed “cosmetic surgeons” can be very deceiving, even to patients who are typically well-informed. Additionally, consumers often find it hard to fathom that anyone not qualified to perform plastic surgery would even be allowed to perform cosmetic procedures. Unfortunately, it is truly a case of “buyer beware” in most states when it comes to cosmetic surgery. The reason is that it is perfectly legal in the United States for any doctor with a medical license to practice in any medical field. Only four states; California, Florida, Louisiana and Texas have tough truth-in-advertising measures on the books which require medical providers to be more transparent about their training. The deception is often intentional.
The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)is the ONLY legitimate medical board in plastic surgery recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Only surgeons certified by the ABPS are truly board certified in plastic surgery. Other official-sounding boards do not compare because entry requires far less education, no training or testing in plastic surgery, with some requiring only a membership payment. There were 9.5 million cosmetic surgery procedures in 2010, an increase of 9%, driven by consumers’ demand for anti-aging remedies. This opportunity has propelled many non-board certified doctors to expand their practices.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is NOT an official board of the ABMS, nor does membership require as much training in plastic surgery. In contrast, some of these other physicians may only attend a weekend seminar and buy the equipment to begin offering cosmetic surgery. The doctor performing plastic surgery may actually be a dentist, oral surgeon, dermatologist, family doctor, OB/GYN, or ENT doctor. The training, experience and oversight are not comparable.
Plastic Surgeons who are board certified by the ABPS, and are members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, go through many years of education and training and must maintain their certification with yearly education updates in plastic surgery procedures, safety and testing. Until more regulation takes place, which may, unfortunately, only come with more patient deaths, it is up to consumers to do their homework when considering plastic surgery and deciding where to place their trust with their face or body.
Dr. Ringler will be discussing this topic with Val Lego on WZZM-13, “Just Ask” segment of Healthy You on Saturday, October 8 at 7:30pm and Sunday, October 9th at 11am.