“Wait…They are not a plastic surgeon???!!!”
Many times a month, a prospective patient comes into my office as their second (or third) consultation for a procedure and are shocked when I tell them their previous consultations were not with “plastic surgeons.”
“But they have “Plastic Surgery” on their billboards, advertisements, buildings, and stationary. How can they do that?”
My staff and I have to explain that “plastic surgery” does not mean “plastic surgeon.” I spoke of this in a previous blog but this point is very important and needs to be addressed again as more and more physicians are promoting themselves as “plastic surgeons” without obtaining the required credentials to make that claim.
Plastic surgery is a surgical technique. Some of the techniques were established centuries ago. Most commonly these techniques were developed to repair traumatic and often wartime injuries as well as congenital deformities. The techniques developed for these horrific situations have recently (1960s) been used as aesthetic procedures to make “normal structures appear better” and this is when physicians started to jump on board mainly for financial reasons.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) was initiated in 1931 to help surgeons specializing in plastic surgery share their techniques and converse with others to promote patient safety. The ASPS was founded to increase quality of patient care and maintain the highest standards of training, ethics, and physician practice. This was quickly followed by the recognition of plastic surgeons by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) in 1933. The ABPS is a certification organization recognized and approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to oversee credentialing of plastic surgeons.
Questions to Ask At Your Consultation
When you have a consultation with a “plastic surgeon” ask these questions to make sure you are getting the real thing:
- Are you board certified in Plastic Surgery by the ABPS? Do not just ask if they are board certified but be specific about the ABPS.
- Are you a member of the ASPS? A member is thereby certified by the ABPS, has at least 6 years of surgical training, operates in only accredited, safe facilities, adheres to a strict code of ethics, and fulfills continuing medical education (CME) credits in plastic surgery including patient safety hours.
- Do you have hospital privileges to perform the anticipated surgery? When a hospital awards privileges for a procedure they must analyze the surgeon’s training, experience, and review quality issues including complications. If your surgeon cannot perform the requested procedure in a hospital setting then one of the three listed issues is concerning.
Although appropriate credentials do not guarantee a successful surgery and outcome, it is truly a good place to start your plastic surgery journey. Do not be surprised and disappointed by a physician doing “plastic surgery” instead of a “plastic surgeon” who is board certified in plastic surgery.
Please above all else…be safe.