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The Importance of Finding Board Certified Providers

Avoiding Resting Botch Face

Botched surgeries on the rise… How do you protect yourself?

In the past couple years, several reports have come out detailing adverse effects and terrifying results following botched cosmetic surgery procedures. Many plastic surgeons, even some on the big screen, are coming forward warning about the importance of finding the right provider in order to avoid a botched result. What's the problem with providers of botched results, and how can you find reputable providers? 
Complications are possible with any type of surgery, even medically-necessary ones, so blaming all plastic surgeons isn't a solution. However, in the case of botched surgeries, it turns out many of those surgeons had been certified by a recognized board of plastic or cosmetic surgery. Confirming your surgeon is certified by a reputable certification organization, as well as membership in reputable organizations such as American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), shows that your surgeon has had to complete the requisite training and exams in order to pass certification and be part of those organizations.

Common botches include:

  • Excessive cheek augmentation or cheek implants, such as in Jocelyn Wildenstein's case.
  • Rhinoplasty or nose jobs, as seen in Heidi Montag.


What to know about Plastic Surgery Certifications


Plastic surgery training for certification includes 16 years additional education post high school, including specific reconstructive and plastic surgery trainings that are directly supervised by board-certified physicians. Board certified physicians have to pass demanding requirements, including written exams and a 2-day oral examination to prove their knowledge, ethical standing, and safe and effective approaches to multiple challenges presented in reconstructive and cosmetic situations. Without this rigorous training and oversight they are not eligible for board certification.
There are also multiple certification boards. In the USA, confirm with your provider if they are certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and if they’re certified by another organization you will want to check if their certification board is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialities. In Canada, you'll want to confirm certification by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCSC). If international check if your surgeon is board certified in their country of origin, as well as a member of ISAPS and IPRAS.
Just as with other body modifications, such as tattoos and piercings, all prospective patients should research as much as possible before choosing a plastic surgeon. Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, for example, is not easy, demonstrates a high level of training and education, and is an easy credential to research while looking at potential surgeons. We recommend checking your doctor's board certification prior to your consultation, and always ask questions if you are unsure.


Why Medical Doctors don't cut it

But what if the provider is medically credentialed (for example, M.D.), but isn't board certified for plastic surgery? Don't medical doctors also have to go through extensive medical training and education, and aren't they subject to the same process for review and ethics?
Sort of. Medical doctors do go through extensive training, and are certified by their own board association, however, they may not be certified specifically for plastic or cosmetic surgery. They may present themselves as board certified, but are they board certified in all the services they're offering? Unless a plastic surgeon was certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, or other recognized board, they are not certified to provide cosmetic surgery.
Shockingly, there are no laws surrounding doctors treating outside of their board certification, so doctors operating without the proper board certification for plastic surgery may not be breaking the law. It is important for all potential patients for cosmetic or plastic surgery related treatments to verify board certification with their provider, or start research from a list of board certified providers in order to ensure accurate care and quality.


How to find out if your doctor is trustworthy

If you need a place to start, we've gathered together the top resources and provider finders to help you research while considering your aesthetic journey:
  1. RealSelf: Includes real befores and afters, honest reviews, patient journeys, ratings and rankings of providers, and a provider finder with visible credentials and specialities.
  2. American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery: Includes before and after photos, detailed treatment descriptions and classifications, and a provider finder of their members and their associated credentials.
  3. American Society of Plastic Surgeons: Includes before and after photos, detailed treatment descriptions and classifications, and a provider finder of their members and their associated credentials. Many providers are members of both the ASPS as well as the ASAPS above.
  4. American Board of Cosmetic Surgery: Includes detailed treatment descriptions and classifications, before and after photos, a provider finder, and extensive patient resources.
  5. Zocdoc: Includes a physician finder, ratings and rankings, and additional treatment information across multiple specialities. This includes a wide variety of physicians across multiple specialities so may not be the first stop in your aesthetic journey, but could help you find additional providers, research their background and ratings, and find a wider variety of providers if you're also looking for other specialities such as dermatology.
  6. Healthgrades: Includes a wide variety of surgeons across multiple fields, including honest reviews and rankings of their services, and direct visibility to all board certifications obtained by that provider. This site includes non-cosmetic surgeons so make sure to confirm that board certification is for plastic surgery.