How to Pick a Plastic Surgeon is a common Question.Board Certification in Plastic Surgery
Anyone can call themselves a plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon. There are major requirements for those to become Board Certified in Plastic Surgery. Some of the worst complications I have seen for plastic surgery contouring have been from General Surgeons, Dermatologists, Urologists, Gynecologists, and those with no boards at all attempting such surgery. You can find out what if any board certification a doctor has here:http://www.abms.org/
Some sites make it a policy to only permit Board Certified Plastic Surgeons participate on their forum. You can search the ABPS database http://www.abplsurg.org/
for a local plastic surgeon, however not all surgeons have the same skills nor use the same techniques. Around the world there are other Plastic Surgeon Boards.Plastic Surgery Society Memberships
is another criteria. Surgeons, their work, advertisements, and websites are examined to be admitted to recognized Plastic Surgery Societies. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons
is the biggest and also has a directory to search. For an additional fee a member surgeon can also post a web page describing themselves and what they specialize in
. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
is a society of those surgeons who specialize in Cosmetic Surgery. A member surgeon can pay to have their listing enhanced in their search database. There are other recognized societies out there, many of them with rigorous criteria for membership. However, there are also many societies that have much more lax criteria that permits less qualified members. Trying to discover just what those criteria can be confusing at best.
You can also look into what a doctor has done as far as malpractice claims and actions
by his state medical boards. I like using Doctor's Disciplinary Information Search
from The Castle Connolly site. This works for doctors licensed here in the United States and may not have all the details needed to understand the issues.Doctor's Awards
can be another issue. Some are non-restrictive that when you put almost any doctor's name in the query box, he or she has "won" that award. Others are much more difficult to achieve and can only be voted on or awarded by their peers. I am very proud of the Top Doctor's in America award by Castle Connolly
that I have won now 7 years in a row. As of the 2007 guide (2008 is yet to be published), there are only 150 Plastic Surgeons listed in the current directory and only 3 in Virginia. It is important to check out the criteria for any such award, how doctors are selected, and are they still recognized for that achievement. That award spells it right out on the site for all to see.
Other awards are less clear. I am even more proud of a Distinguished Service Award given by my own peers, Plastic Surgeons. That particular award published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons is listed in the yearly Members Roster Directory and in the Annual Meeting Publication. Through my career I had found the names on that list of surgeons I had respected, admired, and emulated from when I was early in training. To end up on that list myself still overwhelms me. Yet that award and its description is not listed for the public. You need to be a Plastic Surgery member to even get to that list on their website. Before and after surgery examples:
Photographs can be a valuable tool to see what a doctor has done. However, a single view before / after does not really tell the story. What can look good / bad from one angle may look different from another. Better doctors are able to show examples of their work. I am suspicious when there is only a single view or just a few of the best for each patient (even more so when the view shown changes from one patient to the next). The quality of the before / after images can also be a factor. Different framing, background colors, photographic techniques, lighting, can be deceptive. Reading patient posts in forums
can be valuable. However, not all posters show before / after images and what one person considers "great" might be much less acceptable to others. Numbers of posters about a surgeon may be a factor. However, the vast majority of my patients do not post in forums, they tend to browse and use the resources.Reading patient posts on doctor's websites
can also help. Anything a Plastic Surgeon who is a member of the the American plastic surgery societies, is required to be held to a high code of ethics that prohibits false claims or deceptive advertising. The doctors can be held to what is on their own websites. However, what is posted on forums by "patients" is much harder to control.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons ethics committee have just proposed amending the criteria to prohibit lower surgical fees for patients helping with advertising: That a false, fraudulent, deceptive or misleading statement or claim includes a statement or claim which: “Contains a testimonial or endorsement pertaining to the quality of the member’s medical care or the member’s qualifications if the endorser has been compensated by the member or a third party retained by the member for making such testimonial or endorsement.”
Hope this helps,
Michael Bermant, MDLearn More About Plastic Surgery