Board certification – In what specialty? and by whom?

If you are getting medical treatment, you deserve to have the best care. The first step is to identify your physician’s credentials. Is your physician board certified? In what? Is it in the specialty that you are being treated for?  Furthermore, WHO is the organization deeming the board certification?

The dirty little secret is that there are various agencies who issue board certification. HOWEVER, there is only one agency, the American Board of Medical Specialties, the ABMS, who is considered the ‘gold standard’.  Your physician or surgeon should be board certified in a specialty recognized by the ABMS.

There are 24 Member Boards recognized by the ABMS, the American Board of Medical Specialties. The list of specialities is detailed at their website.  Note that in the field of plastic and cosmetic Surgery there is only one recognized specialty: Plastic surgery. Missing from the approved list are specialties that appear frequently  in advertisements that I see in glossy magazines. For example, there is NO ABMS approved specialty called ‘Facial Cosmetic Surgery’, or for that matter ‘Board of Cosmetic Surgery’.

Thus, the following specialty and board certification is not ABMS approved: American Board of Cosmetic Surgery

The American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – is not a member board, but its members are diplomates of the American Board of Otolaryngology (Ear , Nose, and Throat surgery) who have a subspecialty training in Plastic Surgery in the Head and Neck.

WikiAnswers has a good description of how these alternative boards compare to the Board of Plastic Surgery. In summary, the there is a HUGE difference in the training required. Surgeons who get Boarded by the American Board of Plastic Surgery have a much more rigorous and comprehensive training.

In the field of reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, there is only ONE  ABMS recognized specialties: Plastic surgery. Thus, there is only one recognized board certification: Board of Plastic Surgery.

So, if you are having elective cosmetic surgery–please check the credentials of your surgeon. Be sure he is Board certified in plastic surgery! If he is Board certified in a specialty or subspecialty not listed at the web site, beware!

By Dr. Ricardo L. Rodriguez MD
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Cosmeticsurg Baltimore, Maryland
Ricardo L Rodriguez on American Society of Plastic Surgeons

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