Would you want your dentist performing your tummy tuck? Well, believe it or not, it is perfectly legal, and it happens much more often than you think.

Board certification is the culmination of the approval process in which our mentors and peers determine whether a particular physician is suitable to treat patients in a specific field of medicine. However, with all of the confusing claims of board certification that are floating around, how does a patient truly know who is properly qualified for the privilege of offering their services to you? We have unfortunately made it the patient’s responsibility to sift through the misleading information and muddle through the semantics to ensure that their surgeons have adequate experience.

First and foremost, not all board certifications are created equally. Plastic surgical board certification traditionally requires initial rigorous residency training in general surgery, neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, thoracic surgery, or even urology. This precursor training is followed by a fellowship in plastic surgery. In my particular instance, four years of college were followed by four years of medical school, then five years of general surgery training, and finally two years of a plastic surgical fellowship.

Following training, one must endure comprehensive, and often intimidating, written and oral examinations to not only ensure the knowledge base and skill level in plastic surgery, but also the safety and ethical standards as well.

With ER physicians now performing liposuction and family medical physicians injecting cosmetic Botox therapies, it becomes imperative for patients today to become their own advocates. These physicians are usually not lying when they make claims that they are board-certified. Instead, they are often telling half-truths. Such physicians may very well be board-certified: by their own specialty board. Therefore, the scope of their expertise in their certified specialty does not extend to the plastic surgical field, and therefore they have not been subject to the same rigorous standards of care to determine if they are properly qualified to treat not only the plastic surgical issue, but also the possible complications that may ensue from treatment.

More than a few physicians may impress patients with beautifully crafted diplomas stating that they are Board-Certified in Cosmetic Surgery. However, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) does not recognize a “Cosmetic Surgery” entity. In short, a cosmetic surgeon does not necessarily equate to a plastic surgeon. Patients today are becoming more savvy and are now becoming more aware through websites such as aboardcertifiedplasticsurgeonresource.com that the only recognized board which presides over comprehensive plastic surgery is the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). If your surgeon is not certified by the ABPS, he may convince you that his results and experience are equivalent. It remains up to you to decide.

Another true test to reveal a properly qualified plastic surgeon is to determine if the surgeon has privileges at a local hospital to perform the same procedures that he may perform in his office operating room suite. For example, one should question the physician who performs breast augmentation in his office operating room but has been denied privileges to do so at his local hospital.

Having been educated at Yale and trained in Philadelphia and New York City, I have had the honor of becoming double board-certified with the knowledge and skills gained from exceptional mentors in both general surgery and plastic surgery. Board certification is certainly a relief once it has been achieved. It is a mark of distinction, with training performed in a rigorous, standard, and safe fashion. However, clinical patient care is a learning process, and if we ever feel that we are content in our learning once certification is complete, then we have accomplished less than we actually have. Board certification is a tremendous accomplishment, being the foundation in a lifelong journey in the career of plastic surgery. Because the commitment to undergoing plastic surgery should not be taken lightly, patients should insist that this groundwork is laid correctly and should not settle for anything less than a board-certified plastic surgeon to provide their care.

Written by: Vinod Pathy MD origanally possted

Dr. Vinod Pathy is a double Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Dr. Pathy is available for consultations to address your cosmetic surgery needs at his conveniently located office at Yolo Laser Center & Med Spa located in Guilford, CT.