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What Does Board Certified Really Mean?

Definition of Board-Certified

Whether you are considering having rhinoplasty, a brow lift, a facelift, or any other facial plastic surgery procedure, one piece of advice you’ll frequently hear is only to work with a facial plastic surgeon who is Board Certified. Unfortunately, you might not be sure what Board Dertification actually means or why it’s important. More importantly, you might be unclear on the difference between a Board Certified surgeon, a Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon, and a cosmetic surgeon.  The distinctions between each can seem subtle, but in the end, choosing the surgeon who is most qualified to perform the surgery you’re considering is absolutely important.

Certification vs. Licensure

Technically speaking, all that a doctor needs to practice medicine is the medical licence he obtains after successfully complete medical school.  Medical students spend four years studying medicine and the human body, both in the classroom and in the clinical setting.  However, they don’t spend years  focusing on any one specific area, such as facial plastic surgery. A medical license and degree from medical school is the bare minimum a person needs to be called a doctor. It’s not a sign that the person is skilled or trained to perform complex procedures such as the rhinoplasty or facelift.

In the United States, Board Certification is overseen by the American Board of Medical Specialties, which is made up of around two dozen member boards. Examples of member boards include the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology. Facial Plastic Surgeons are usually certified by either one of those two boards, as well as the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, which is a secondary certification board. A surgeon can’t be certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery unless he or she is already certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Board of Otolaryngology.

Training and Experience

After a doctor completes medical school, he or she may decide to become a specialist, focusing his or her practice area on one specialty. But, since medical school doesn’t provide specific training in specialty areas, the doctor will need to get additional education in that area before he or she can be qualified.

Usually, a doctor who wants to become Board Certified in a specialty will enroll in a residency program. For example, a doctor who wants to earn Board Certification in Plastic Surgery needs to complete at least six years of residency training while, a doctor who wants to earn Board Certification in Otolaryngology needs to complete at least five years of training in a residency. To qualify, the residencies need to be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

The residency is just one component of the Board Certification process. To earn certification, a doctor also needs to pass a written and oral examination and needs to have a supervising surgeon vouch for him or her.

Surgeons who earn Board Certification in Plastic Surgery or Otolaryngology, and who would like to specialize in facial plastic surgery, need to complete a number of other qualifications, he or she will need practice facial plastic surgery successfully for a period of at least two years.   They will need to also to submit at least 100 peer-reviewed, detailed case reports from that period; or at least 50 for each year. He or she also needs to pass an additional oral and written examination, then agree to abide by a code of ethics.

What Goes Along with Board Certification

It might seem as though the process of becoming Board Certified surgeon is a lot of work. It is.  But, it’s absolutely necessary for a surgeon to be accepted and respected in his or her field. When a surgeon is Board Certified, he’s more likely to have privileges at a local hospital. Board Certified facial plastic surgeons are also responsible for maintenance of certification, or MOC; this means he or she is continually measured in six competency areas and that he or she needs to participate in continuing education programs to stay on top of any developments or advancements in the field.

In the Houston, Texas area, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Paul Vitenas is highly respected by his colleagues and peers.  His surgical style and techniques are often emulated by other surgeons in his profession. If you are looking for a Board Certified plastic surgeon, call (281) 484-0088 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vitenas today.