Why Board Certification Matters

Dr. Josh Olson

If you go online and search for a Mesa, Chandler, or Gilbert plastic surgeon, the number of options might be surprising. This dynamic area east of Phoenix is home to multiple surgeons who offer cosmetic surgery, and it’s important that patients understand how to determine who is best for them.

But did you know that legally, any physician with a valid medical license can perform cosmetic procedures, regardless of their training? This means that any physician can advertise as a cosmetic surgeon. And even surgeons who say they’re “board-certified cosmetic surgeons” don’t have the same level of training and experience as board-certified plastic surgeons.

It can be a bit confusing when you’re trying to choose a surgeon to perform cosmetic or reconstructive plastic surgery. Knowing what it means to be a board-certified plastic surgeon can help clear up this confusion.

What Is Board Certification?

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) recognizes 24 elite medical specialty boards. The only board sanctioned by the ABMS involved with plastic surgery is the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Why does that matter? Because getting certified by the ABPS requires surgeons to meet strict criteria that separate them from cosmetic surgeons.

Surgeons certified by the ABPS must have:

  • Graduated from an accredited 4-year medical school
  • Completed 5 years of surgical training as a resident surgeon, at least 2 of which must be in plastic surgery
  • Practiced plastic surgery for at least 2 years after completing residency training
  • Passed comprehensive written and oral examinations in plastic surgery

Meeting these rigorous requirements ensures that plastic surgeons have the technical skills and experience that greatly enhance patient safety. That’s why I recommend that women and men considering plastic surgery in Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, or anywhere in Arizona start by ensuring a surgeon is certified by the ABPS. You can do that by visiting the organization’s website. You can also check surgeons’ websites to review the specifics of their education, training, and experience—such as what I’ve posted.

In addition to training and experience, ABPS-certified plastic surgeons can only operate in properly certified facilities and can only perform procedures in the office for which they also have hospital privileges. This is another feature of board certification that helps ensure patient safety.

Choosing a Plastic Surgeon

Once you’ve determined that the surgeons you’re considering are board-certified, what other factors can help your decision-making process? It’s a good idea to ask a surgeon how many times a month or year they perform the specific procedure you’re considering. Patients can also view before-and-after photos that showcase what the surgeon believes are good results. Additionally, checking what previous patients have posted on independent websites about their experiences is useful.

Finally, it’s important that you feel comfortable discussing your concerns openly and honestly with the surgeon during your consultation.

If you’re currently looking for a plastic surgeon, you can request a consultation using the online form or call us at (480) 466-7355 to schedule an appointment.


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