If you look online, you’re likely to come across plenty of doctors who claim to perform a variety of plastic surgery procedures, from breast augmentation to facelifts. What makes one surgeon a better pick than another? A lot of factors, from a surgeon’s training and experience, to his area of specialization.
One of the most important things to look for when choosing a surgeon is whether or not that doctor is a board certified plastic surgeon. Think of board certification as a stamp of approval when it comes to a surgeon’s skill and training.
These days, people spend hours, if not days, researching what type of furniture to buy, where to go to dinner, and whether one type of car is a better buy than another type of car. It pays to spend the same amount of time researching the surgeon who’ll perform your cosmetic procedure. Here’s why.
A Board Certified Plastic Surgeon is Specially Trained
A surgeon’s training isn’t finished once he or she graduates from medical school in the US. In fact, you could look at the completion of medical school as the beginning of a long, detailed education. After medical school, many doctors enter into residencies. These residencies are based on the areas where the doctor would like to specialize, such as surgery, plastic surgery, gynecology and pediatrics.
Surgeons in the US who go on to become board certified plastic surgeons earn their certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Before they can earn that certification, they need to complete at least five years of residency training. At least three of those years must focus specifically on plastic surgery. In addition to training, the surgeon needs to pass an examination before earning the certification.
Is Board Certification a Legal Requirement?
Legally, a doctor who has a medical license is allowed to practice any type of surgery or plastic surgery. Board certification is technically voluntary and isn’t officially required of surgeons. But looking for board certification can be a great way for a patient to separate the surgeons who are dedicated to plastic surgery and who have plenty of experience performing it from doctors who are just hoping to make some extra money by performing certain types of popular cosmetic surgeries.
The Type of Board Certification Matters
When looking for a board certified plastic surgeon, remember that the type of certification matters. In the US, the American Board of Medical Specialties oversees board certification in all areas. There are 26 member boards, including the American Board of Plastic Surgery. While board certified surgeons who perform all types of plastic surgery, including facial procedures likes rhinoplasty and facelifts and body procedures such as liposuction and breast surgeries, should be board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, surgeons who specialize in facial plastic surgery and are known as facial plastic surgeons might be certified by either that board or the American Board of Otolaryngology. In some cases, facial plastic surgeons are certified by both boards.
Looking for the right certification matters, as there are other so-called boards out there that aren’t part of the American Board of Medical Specialties. These “boards” have less rigorous training requirements. Additionally, some doctors might be board certified but in an entirely different area, such as dermatology or gynecology. While those doctors might be very good in their areas of specialization, having a board certification in one medical specialty doesn’t make a doctor an expert in another specialty.
What Else to Look for in a Plastic Surgeon
Although looking for a board certified surgeon can give you a decent idea of that doctor’s experience and training, it’s not the only thing worth looking for in a surgeon. There are several other factors that can influence how great your surgery is.
For example, some surgeons specialize in particular surgeries. These surgeons might have decades of experience performing breast surgeries and might have performed the surgeries on hundreds, if not thousands, of patients. If you’re considering a type of surgery, it can help to work with the surgeon who has made that procedure his or her life’s work.
Communication and rapport also matter when choosing a surgeon. It’s important to find a doctor who “gets” you and who is able to address your concerns or explain the surgery you’re thinking about in a way that is clear and easy to understand.
You might want to look at what other people have said about the surgeon before making your choice. You can ask the surgeon for references or read any write-ups that have been produced about the doctor and his practice. Additionally, it can help to look for a surgeon who has received accolades and awards for his past work and commitment to patients.
A plastic surgeon in Houston, Texas, Dr. Paul Vitenas is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He’s also been recognized as a top doctor and has been named one of the country’s most compassionate doctors. To learn more about Dr. Vitenas and to discuss your surgery in full detail, call 281-484-0088 to schedule a consultation today.