Who Should Care About Board Certification? You Should!

I have been in practice over 30 years and during that time much has changed in the realm of plastic surgery. When I first started, only Plastic Surgeons did cosmetic surgery. Other healthcare practitioners and personnel, such as dentists, obstetricians, ophthalmologists, general practitioners, and others were not delving into this area as they are today.

Why is cosmetic surgery such an attractive field?

The reason that so many non-plastic surgeons are practicing as if they are is this: Once managed care companies and other medical insurance organizations started controlling physicians reimbursement rates, physician income started to drop, and doctors in all fields looked to increase their income by seeing where they could expand their practice. Cosmetic surgery was believed to be the area to go into, as many physicians assumed you can charge whatever you want. There is no insurance and therefore no waiting for payment and no fee limitation.

Many physicians in other specialties gravitated to this area to get a piece of this pie and increase their incomes. However, most did so with little or no formal cosmetic training. So, as a potential patient, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? Board Certification can do it for you. But first we need to discuss what Board Certification really means.

What is board certification?

In the US, the American Board of Medical Specialists recognizes a number of “Boards” where physicians have been trained and tested on doing cosmetic surgery. These standard boards are:

  • The American Board of Plastic Surgery
  • The American Board of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery (ENT)
  • The American Board of Dermatology

That’s it. There are no other medical specialty boards that are approved by the American Board of Medical Specialists for cosmetic surgery. What is the difference between the three boards listed above? Plastic Surgeons can operate on the whole body and do procedures in and out of hospitals using general or local anesthesia. Usually the ENT or Otolaryngologists just do cosmetic procedures on the head and neck, and the Dermatologists do minor amounts of liposuction.

What does board certification guaranties for me?

Does board certification guarantee a perfect result? No, but it does help to certify that your doctor has actually been trained in cosmetic surgery and has been tested by colleagues regarding their knowledge of cosmetic surgery and safe surgical. During their training, board certified plastic surgeons must have performed a minimum number of procedures verified by trained plastic surgeons who attest that their level of skill in this area meets the requirements for Board Certification.

Today there are many physicians who take courses and decide for themselves with no oversight from peers that they have the skill to do cosmetic surgery and treatments. These physicians have no “formal” board certification-recognized training.

I am proud that I trained over 6 years to be a plastic surgeon and then took my boards and passed the exam the first time. The tests are grueling, with both written and oral portions, including a section when senior physicians review my cases and question me on them. With my boards, I can be a member in a number of prestigious organizations that provide essential continuing education to keep me up to date. The American Society of Plastic Surgery and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery are two such organizations to which I belong.

For further questions, a professional opinion, consultation and a variety of cosmetic procedures feel free to contact Dr. William B. Rosenblatt at the Lenox Hill Plastic Surgery Center in New York.