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 ABMS.org 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

Related categories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 thoughts on “Board certification – In what specialty? and by whom?”

  • Beverly Hills plastic surgeon says:

    This is a very informal post and should not be overlooked by potential patients. The most important part of a surgical procedure is choosing the right doctor. A good surgery is only as good as the doctor performing it.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      The fact that this post is informal by no means detracts from the fact that it is 100% true. Otherwise, a patient might be under the impression that a patient with Board Certification in Otolaryngology (Ear Nose and Throat surgery) has received surgical residency training and certification to operate in another part of the body, such as the buttocks. The advantage of Board Certification in a certain area is not the diploma on the wall, but the years of specialized training it represents, the continued fund of medical knowledge exchange from your peers, and the effort it takes to remain in good standing with your professional society.
  • Mary Sue says:

    Hi Dr. Rodriguez, I am very grateful you posted this. I was doing some research about the Lifestyle Lift procedure, which I was considering because of its low cost. But I decided to do my homework after reading this post and I asked a Lifestyle Lift sales rep if the doctor who would be doing my procedure is board-certified. Boy am I glad I asked, because as it turns out, he isn't!! I was shown a small list of credentials, but none of them included the American Board of Plastic Surgery! What's worse is the rep went on to say, and I quote, that Lifestyle Lift doctors "perform more facial rejuvenation procedures in a year than most doctors do in a lifetime." Now that's scary. Thank goodness I checked up on these people.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      hello Mary Sue, Thank you for sharing your experience. My opinion of the Lifestyle Lift is not a good one. I object to the behavior of the company and the procedure itself. I wrote my negative opinion about the Lifestyle Lift right here on this blog about 3 years ago. Soon afterwards, I received two threatening letters from Lifestyle Lift attorneys objecting to my attitude about the technique. Here is my original post. The post was taken down for a couple of years just to avoid the aggravation of receiving more letters from them. Then, in 2008 and 2009, life caught up with the Lifestyle Lift :-). Lifestyle Lift got slammed in a lawsuit by RealSelf.com and were ultimately fined by the NY Attorney General's office. Here is the Attorney General press release: http://www.oag.state.ny.us/media_center/2009/july/july14b_09.html And to sum it all up without getting into more gory details of what I think, only 28% of RealSelf.com participants think the Lifestyle Life was worth it: http://www.realself.com/Lifestyle-lift/reviews That is the lowest rating of any procedure on RealSelf. Nuff said! Congrats on your due diligence and homework.
  • ISA says:

    HELLO I HAVE WRITTEN TO U BEFORE ABOUT GETTING LASER LIPO DONE...WELL I DID BUT NOW I FEEL EVEN MORE ASHAMED OF MY BODY NOT BECAUSE MY SKIN IS FLABBY LIKE THE DOCTOR SAID IT WILL BE DO TO MY STRECH MARKS BUT BECAUSE NOW I HAVE MY STOMACH WITH A LUMP IT LOOKS LIKE A GOLF BALL AND THE SKIN LOOK LIKE ITS IN LIKE I HAVE A SCAR TYPE IT LOOKS HORRIBLE AND I WISH I COULD TURN TIME AND JUST STAY THE WAY I WAS...BUT ITS TOO LATE. I HAVE GONE BACK TO THE DOCTOR AND TOLD HIM HOW I FEEL AND HE SAID THAT HE TOLD ME THE CONDITIONS BUT HE NEVER EXPLAINED THAT I WOULD BE LEFT WITH A GOLF SIZE BALL IN MY STOMACH HE SAID ONCE I GET THE TUMMY TUCK THAT WOULD BE GONE BUT NOW I CANT AFFORD TO GET MY TUMMY TUCK I NEED A SECOND OPINION THE BALL HURTS AND SO DOES MY SKIN AND ITS BEEN ALREADY 5MONTHS SINCE SURGERY. THE ONLY WAY I LOOK GOOD IN CLOTHE IS IF I DONT TAKE AWAY MY FAJA... HELP I NEED A SECOND OPINION I KNOW U CANT SEE IT TO GIVE ME THAT OPINION BUT WAT SHOULD I DO THIS IS TAKING ME THRU DEPRESION JUST SEEING MY STOMACHE..WELL HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU SOON THANKS FOR YOUR TIME
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Isa: I have never been a big fan of Laser lipo, and I have expressed it in my blog. Unfortunately, many patients are still lured by promises of maximum benefit with minimal downtime. We need to let the world know of cases like yours so we can stop others from suffering the same fate. Would you be so kind as to send us some pictures so we can post them (of course your face and any identifying features would not appear). You can send them to Kelly at kelly@cosmeticsurg.net. Once we have the pictures I can have a better idea of what can be done for you. The golf ball you talk about is probably scar tissue. Keep wearing your faja (compression garment), as that will help remodel the scar.
  • MondyJecobs says:

    Hey, I'm thinking of undergoing breast implant surgery. My issue is about having over muscle as I am very active meaning that I workout. Does anybody have any feedback? I am still to see the the surgeon as I'm still uncertain about the procedure. Thankyou
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Mondyjecobs: These are precisely the types of questions you should be asking your surgeon when you see him. If he cannot answer them or you feel you still have doubts, by all means get a second consult. A lot depends on your body shape and weight. Good luck, and go for it!