As it turns out, a lot. Board certification is one of the ways you can make sure the doctor with whom you’re thinking of working is the real deal and has both the experience and training to execute the procedure well. Legally, any old doctor can perform a facial plastic surgery procedure. But, if you want to make sure you’re in competent, trustworthy hands, you need to work with a board-certified surgeon.
Training and Experience
After college, a person who wants to become a doctor attends medical school, which gives him or her an additional four years of training. Usually during the third or fourth year of medical school, an aspiring doctor chooses a specialty, such as general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, or plastic surgery. Although student doctors spend the last two years of school in clinical settings, they aren’t fully specialized when they graduate and are usually expected to go on to complete another few years of training in a residency.
Doctors who are in a residency are doctors, but they are still in the process of learning and are becoming more and more skilled in their area of specialty. Usually, residents work under the close supervision of a more experienced and board certified physician. How long the residency lasts depends in part on the specialty. After finishing a residency, some surgeons accept fellowships, which give them more training in an area of specialty or in a sub-specialty.
If a doctor plans on becoming board certified, completing a residency in his or her chosen area of specialization is a must. But a residency is just the first step to board certification. Examinations are also part of the process. A doctor who is in the process of becoming a facial plastic surgeon, for example, will usually be working towards board certification first by the American Board of Otolaryngology. To pass the primary level of certification, he or she has to take a qualifying exam first, then an oral certification exam the following spring.
When people are looking for a surgeon to perform facial plastic surgery, there can be some confusion about plastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons. Although they might sound similar, there is a distinction.
The major difference is the board that certified the surgeon. In the U.S., all medical boards are members of the American Board of Medical Specialities. Each board certifies a different speciality and some also offer certification in sub-specialities.
A doctor who describes himself or herself as a plastic surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. To become certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a surgeon needs to complete at least six years of additional training after medical school. Alternatively, surgeon who describes himself or herself as a facial plastic surgeon has usually received certification from the American Board of Otolaryngology, meaning he or she has completed at least five years of additional training, focusing on surgery of the face, ears, nose, and neck, after medical school, then followed by certification from the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, which is called an ABMS-equivalent.
Surgeons who are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Board of Otolaryngology can complete additional training to become certified in the subspecialty of plastic surgery within the head and neck, too. These surgeons are usually members of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Surgeons can then only be certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery if they are already members of either the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Board of Otolaryngology.
What About Cosmetic Surgeons?
In some cases, you might hear a doctor describe himself or herself as a cosmetic surgeon, not a plastic surgeon. The difference isn’t just the matter of a single word. Cosmetic isn’t synonymous with plastic and a surgeon who calls him or herself a cosmetic surgeon won’t necessarily have the training, experience or board certification needed to perform rhinoplasty or another type of plastic surgery well. Typically, a doctor who is a cosmetic surgeon specializes in another area, such as dermatology or gynecology, but has also decided to offer certain surgeries or even minimally invasive treatments, such as Botox or other injections, too.
So, what’s your safest option when considering rhinoplasty or another facial plastic surgery? Look for a surgeon who’s a board certified facial plastic surgeon, and who can prove his or her experience and training to you.
Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, for example, is a double board certified facial plastic surgeon, recognized by the American Board of Otolaryngology and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He regularly performs around four to five rhinoplasties a week and can provide you with photos, videos and references for you to review. Dr. Epstein practices in New York City and Miami. To schedule an appointment at his Miami practice, call (305) 666-5884. For an appointment in New York City, call (347) 767-5381 today.