Is your Seattle plastic surgeon really board certified and if so in what?
If you are in tune to plastic surgery and the cosmetic medicine and surgery industry you see just about every cosmetic surgeon or cosmetic medicine provider claim on their marketing material that they are a “board certified” in something to do with cosmetic medicine or surgery.
I hear this all the time. I cannot tell you how many people have been to see someone else and comment, “Oh he (or she) is a plastic surgeon” or “No no, (or she) is a plastic surgeon!”
These patients are then astounded to find out that the individual they are talking about is an ENT doc, a general surgeon, a family practitioner or a nurse practitioner and not a board certified plastic surgeon. These individuals may do plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery, but unless they are certified by the American Board of Plastic, they are in some ways being misleading. If your doctor is truly board certified, they will be in the listing on the website for the specialty they are certified in which can be found on the American Board of Medical Specialties devoted to this matter called Certification Matters.
What board certification is supposed to mean is that your doctor or surgeon has been examined by the one of the 24 medical specialty boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties and has been keeping up with the continuing medical education required by these boards. Unfortunately this concept is inadequate and can give you a false sense of security when you go to see someone for a cosmetic procedure. You may be not be seeing a truly board certified practitioner or they be board certified but not in any of the specialties that teach and examine cosmetic medicine and plastic surgery.
Let’s examine what board certification. If your physician is board certified, the doctor completed a residency. A residency is usually 4 to 5 years of specialty training after medical school in program that is board approved and accredited (it is a little shorter for some programs like family practice). The director of the residency program must sign documents for the board stating that the doctor was trained and he/she practiced in a safe way while in the program. After that the physician must pass a written and often an oral exam before official board certification is granted. After that, the board asks that continuing medical education be done but other than that it has board has no way of knowing the quality of their ongoing work. The individual boards are involved in disciplinary action when a complaint is filled but usually this is left to the state medical boards.
Unfortunately, I have seen patients who have had surgery by plastic surgeon (ones who have actually done a plastic surgery residency and passed the exams) and the surgery did not turn out very well. So called botched plastic surgery. While that can happen with any surgery no matter who the surgeon, it was clear that the surgeons in some of these cases were not keeping up with their education and in one case the surgeon had his license suspended for fraud and substance abuse which is why the patient came to me for follow up care.
Many people spend more time researching their new car than they do researching something as important as the physician they are entrusting their body to.
There are no guarantees that whoever you go to will be great at what they do but at least it they are truly board certified in plastic surgery or dermatology you can be assured that they have passed the requirements of one of these boards which will offer some measure of assuredness that they are good at what they do.
Please do your research!!