As a patient deciding to have plastic surgery for the first time, it can be overwhelming and confusing when trying to find the right surgeon. A variety of factors contribute to a patient’s decision on who to trust to perform their surgery. Although surgical experience, personality, training, and reliable references are all important factors to consider, board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery may be the most important of all. This is often times where patients are misled as there is a significant difference in the meaning of a physician who is “board certified” versus one who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Plastic surgery is focused on achieving a more desirable appearance and therefore procedures can create a life-long impact. In order to make an informed decision regarding the right plastic surgeon based on your needs and desires, it is important to understand what it truly means to be a board-certified plastic surgeon. The United States has very few legal limitations regarding the types of procedures a physician can perform as well as how these procedures can be advertised. This legal loop hole allows for any kind of doctor to perform plastic surgery procedures without any formal training! Furthermore, if a doctor is certified in their respective field (i.e. Ob-Gyn, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, etc…), that doctor can “truthfully” say that they are “board-certified.” Granted, that doctor is not board certified in Plastic Surgery, but they conveniently leave that part out! Finally, there are many “made-up,” legitimate-sounding boards that allow any practitioner to be a member for a fee (of course) and intentionally mislead patients into thinking they are being treated by a board-certified plastic surgeon. California has recently taken legal action against one of these “made up” boards and their false advertising:
Wednesday, December 19, 2018- Taken from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons Website
Today, the Medical Board of California (MBC) took a major step to protect patients in the state when it unanimously voted against allowing members of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) to advertise as “board certified” cosmetic surgeons. ASPS is proud to have worked in advance of this vote to educate the MBC and show that ABCS certifications are not backed by a level of training that puts them on par with American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) member boards.
“This is, frankly, a tremendous relief. California has a large number of cosmetic surgery patients and the most ABCS members of any state, which means it holds the greatest potential for those patients to be misled by advertisements that a doctor is a ‘board certified cosmetic surgeon’,” says ASPS President Alan Matarasso, MD, FACS. “Today’s ruling means those patients are less likely to choose a particular provider because they were exposed to a confusing ad. That’s going to make patients safer. Our specialty owes a huge debt of gratitude to all the plastic surgeons who invested their time and talents to help protect our patients.”
Today’s ruling closes the book on a two-decades-long story. In 1996, California law was changed so that the state’s physicians could only advertise ABMS certifications, unless a non-ABMS board was specifically reviewed and deemed equivalent to an ABMS member board by the MBC. ABCS has applied for equivalency under this process multiple times, and the MBC has repeatedly found that ABCS falls short of the state’s standard that requires their training programs to be equivalent in scope, content, and duration to training accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
While ABCS has previously had the option to re-apply, that is no longer the case. In 2018, California changed its board certification law and eliminated the MBC’s equivalency review process as of Jan. 1, 2019. As a result, ABCS cannot apply again and force the MBC to reconsider today’s decision.
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is the national agency that regulates sub-specialty boards. Only those that have completed a residency in plastic surgery, underwent at least five to six years of rigorous training, and have taken a written and oral plastic surgery board examination are qualified to obtain plastic surgery board certification. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only plastic surgery board recognized by the ABMS that has the ability to evaluate the level of skill and training of plastic surgeons. Every surgeon that completes a plastic surgery residency and becomes board certified is trained to perform a full range of reconstructive and aesthetic procedures. Due to the high level of education and extensive training required to achieve board certification in a sub-specialty, board certified plastic surgeons are more qualified and more likely to provide you with optimal results.
Dr. Traci Temmen in Tampa, Florida went to medical school for four years at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Following graduation, she moved to Tampa, Florida to continue her training in an integrated plastic surgery residency for six years. She has been in private practice since 2011 and is a proud member of the American Board of Plastic Surgery.