Board Certified Plastic Surgeons

Last Updated: January 17, 2013

Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Organizations & Associations Explained

Please note that the only two associations that require members to be board-certified plastic surgeons are the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

While cosmetic or reconstructive surgery began as a method of repairing war injuries, there has been an increase in cosmetic procedures over the years from those with the financial means who wish to use it as a way to look younger. It has grown in popularity to the point where all social classes are electing to have cosmetic procedures done.

Because of the increase in requested procedures, there has been an increase in the amount of surgeons who perform procedures without the proper training or licensing.

For more information on this very serious subject please read Safety & Awareness Campaign Against Deceptive Practices.

Recognizing this, the medical community has established certain criteria and procedures to establish those surgeons allowed to perform cosmetic surgeries.

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Using a physician board certified in plastic surgery ensures that your procedure will be conducted by someone who has shown that they have the knowledge and experience required to safely and adequately practice medicine in that specific field.

What is Board Certification?

Board certification is the process established by a certain authority that a medical professional has achieved the education and experience necessary to certify them to practice medicine in a specific field. To become board certified, a medical professional must submit to a written examination and practical or simulator examination which demonstrates their knowledge and mastery of a specific course of medicine.

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When it comes to making sure you have a board certified plastic surgeon, the American Board of Plastic Surgery is the authority.

Why Use a Board Certified Surgeon?

Using a physician board certified in plastic surgery ensures that your procedure will be conducted by someone who has passed a review of their peers and has shown that they have the knowledge and experience required to safely and adequately practice medicine in that specific field.

How Do I Make Sure That the Surgeon is Board Certified?

When it comes to making sure you have a board certified plastic surgeon, the American Board of Plastic Surgery is the authority. To find out if you have a board certified plastic surgeon, visit ABPS search online.

The ABPS requires all their board certified surgeons to take an examination every 10 years to renew their certification.

What are the Benefits Associated With Using a Board Certified Surgeon?

By using a board-certified plastic surgeon, you are assured that they have extensive education and experience in their specialty.

What are the Risks Associated With Not Using a Board Certified Surgeon?

If your plastic surgeon is not board certified, there is no way to tell if the doctor has adequate training or experience to perform that particular procedure. The outcome of the procedure may not be as satisfactory as it could be with a board certified plastic surgeon.

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By using a board-certified plastic surgeon, you are assured that they have extensive education and experience in their specialty.

Does Using a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Have Implications on Medical Financing or on My Insurance Policy?

Cosmetic and reconstructive surgery is not always covered under medical insurance. Likewise, many companies require that only board certified cosmetic/plastic surgeons or other board certified specialists be used for cases that are covered by the policy.

ABPS Requirements

To become certified with the ABPS, a surgeon must first have graduated from an accredited medical school, passed comprehensive written and oral examinations, completed no less than two years of plastic surgery residency training, or completed either three years of residency training in general surgery or completed a full residency in any of the following, Neurological Surgery, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery, Otolaryngology and/or Urology. These are alternative training programs that qualify as "pre-requisite training programs."

American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is an organization dedicated to promoting ethical and safe plastic surgery. The requirements to become ABPS certified are quite stringent, so patients can be assured that members of the ABPS uphold the highest standards.

What is the Difference Between an Association and an Organization?

There are two types of groups to which cosmetic surgeons can belong: associations and organizations. Organizations provide qualifying members with a certification that verifies they have met the organization’s requirements to be listed as a cosmetic surgeon who is reliable and trustworthy. Associations are networking organizations that offer certain benefits to members for joining, typically for a fee. Some associations and organizations work in conjunction with each other to provide continuing education and training to surgeons and to provide the best information available to patients.

Board Certifying Associations:

These organizations require ABPS Board Certification from the surgeons in order for them to be members.

American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) is the most prestigious association for plastic surgeons. They strongly believe in the patient’s right to know the credentials of their surgeon, and they have very strict guidelines of obtaining and maintaining membership. Only one quarter of the applicants are accepted into the association.

American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is perhaps the topmost organization for patient information. They publish literature and provide information on their website so patients considering plastic surgery can educate themselves on the various procedures.

Please note that the only two associations that require members to be board-certified plastic surgeons are the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

Other Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Organizations and Associations (Alphabetical)

Associations are networking organizations that offer certain benefits to members (physicians) for joining, typically for a fee.

Organizations provide qualifying members with a certification that verifies they have met the organization’s requirements to be listed as a physicians who is reliable and trustworthy.

The groups below might be associated with plastic/cosmetic surgery, but do not require the physicians to be board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only recognized board certification for plastic/cosmetic surgery by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Note; there are other board certifications that pertain to plastic surgery, but they are not recognized boards due to their lack of a completed residency in plastic surgery as a requirement.

American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS) is the foremost organization for cosmetic surgeons, and it provides patients with a sense of security that their surgeon is supported by the primary certifying organization for cosmetic surgeons.

American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery (AAFRPS) is the largest specialty association in the world. Members of this organization must have wide-ranging experience and training in facial procedures, and their primary focus must be on patient well-being. Any surgeon who is or wants to be specialized in the field of facial and reconstructive plastic surgery must register with this organization.

American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) is an association which provides members with continuing training and education to allow them to better serve their patients.

American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS) is the certifying organization for reconstructive and facial plastic surgeons. Their goal is to insure the surgical treatment provided to patients is of the highest quality. Surgeons wishing to become members of the AAFRPS must be certified by the ABFPRS first.

American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is the umbrella association for many specialty organizations. Their main goal is to educate patients by providing them with information from their database relating to surgeon certification.

American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS), which is different than AAOMS, is the only organization from which surgeons wanting to practice oral and maxillofacial surgery can obtain certification.

American Dental Association (ADA) is the chief organization to which every dental professional should belong. Not only does it provide continuing education to their dental professionals, it is also the governing body for many dental organizations, including those relating to dental cosmetic surgery.

American Medical Association (AMA) is the premiere association for medical professionals. The focus is to create and implement a code of ethics, educational standards, and education requirements in order to improve the overall health of the general public.

American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) is an association that creates standards for cosmetic surgery involving the eyes and educates opthamalic surgeons.

American Society of Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) is an association that widely advocates for patient safety. Every member must hold board certification in dermatology.

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The only two associations that require members to be board-certified plastic surgeons are the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

What is the Impact of These Groups on Surgeons?

Each group will have its own criteria for membership, some requirements will be the same but others will be specific to that group. The AMA is the most widely accepted authority on medical professionals in the United States, and the majority of doctors in the country are members of the AMA. Becoming a member of more than one group allows the doctor to gain valuable information on new procedures and new policies within the field. It also provides them with networking opportunities and lists them as members within a given field, making it easier for prospective patients to find them.

What is the Impact of These Groups on Patients?

These groups allow patients to see if the surgeon they are considering for their cosmetic procedure is certified and trustworthy. The first group that the patient should search for their doctor is the AMA, as it is the most widely accepted authority for medical practitioners in the country. However, patients should look at more than one group for their doctor. While not all surgeons will register with more than one or two groups, the more groups the surgeon is a member of, the better the patient can feel about the doctor they have chosen.

The decision to having cosmetic surgery of any kind is an important one, so it is equally as important to choose a surgeon who has the proper credentials. Check with the plastic surgery associations and organizations to see if the surgeon you want is certified.

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