Undergoing plastic surgery is a huge and possibly life-altering decision. Doing your homework before choosing a surgeon is an important first step to making an informed and safe decision about any cosmetic procedure you may be interested in. One way to do this is by being sure to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon.
Of course, you might be wondering: What does board-certification mean and why does it matter?
There are many valid medical boards in the United States, but surprisingly a doctor doesn’t have to belong to any of them in order to offer cosmetic procedures. Certification by a board means that a physician is recognized as having expertise in a particular specialty.
But here’s where it gets even more complicated: Even if a doctor does belong to a legitimate board, that still doesn’t mean they’re qualified to perform any sort of cosmetic procedure. Specialty boards range from Family Medicine to Psychiatry. A doctor might be extremely experienced in one field, but have no experience performing plastic surgery. In the United States, what you’re looking for are physicians who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Studies have analyzed tens of thousands of patient reviews across hundreds of procedures, and the results are incredibly clear: The most reliable outcomes and highest degrees of satisfaction happen when people are in the hands of physicians who have proven experience in the field.
What’s scary is that the law doesn’t protect patients from doctors who don’t have the proper training, so it’s up to you to do your homework. There is a rising trend of “cosmetic doctors,” for example: Dentists can legally perform liposuction, gynecologists can do breast augmentation, and even psychologists are offering Botox! The problem’s only getting worse with the growth of coupon sites, group buying specials, and social media marketing, which often put pressure on consumers to buy immediately instead of encouraging research. As a diligent patient, you should not only look at board certification, but also what specific procedures a doctor specializes in.
If you want to minimize risk and have a better chance of getting good results, board certification matters. Being certified in a specialty means being recognized as an expert in that specialty and why wouldn’t you want to go to an expert? When it comes to your health and your body, you should never compromise based solely on convenience or price.
Bottom line: Look for a board-certified plastic surgeon that has a proven track record with the surgery you want.