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What does It mean to be a board-certified plastic surgeon?

Currently there are 24 general certificates issued by the American Board of Medical Specialties. To obtain a general certificate, members must complete medical school, an internship and an approved residency training program in their specialty. They must then pass the appropriate examination. To remain in good standing, members must pass maintenance of certification examinations thereafter. The only such certificate for plastic surgery in the United States is from the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This encompasses plastic surgery, including cosmetic surgery, of the entire body including the face.

Confusion arises from the presence of several other associations and boards that focus on cosmetic or aesthetic medicine. The American Board of Medical Specialties does not recognize these organizations. Although a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery may be a member of these organizations, the reverse is not true. Membership in these other organizations does not necessarily mean that someone has gone through the years of training to become a plastic surgeon or even a surgeon for that matter.

One needs to be careful when analyzing a doctor’s credentials. They may simply say that they are “board certified” and not list a specialty. They could be board certified in internal medicine and not plastic surgery, for example, even if they are performing plastic surgery.  There are no laws in the United States that prohibit doctors from performing procedures that they are not necessarily trained to do.

The entire list of specialties recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties is as follows:

  1. American Board of Allergy and Immunology
  2. American Board of Anesthesiology
  3. American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery
  4. American Board of Dermatology
  5. American Board of Emergency Medicine
  6. American Board of Family Medicine
  7. American Board of Internal Medicine
  8. American Board of Medical Genetics
  9. American Board of Neurological Surgery
  10. American Board of Nuclear Medicine
  11. American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  12. American Board of Ophthalmology
  13. American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
  14. American Board of Otolaryngology
  15. American Board of Pathology
  16. American Board of Pediatrics
  17. American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  18. American Board of Plastic Surgery
  19. American Board of Preventive Medicine
  20. American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  21. American Board of Radiology
  22. American Board of Surgery
  23. American Board of Thoracic Surgery
  24. American Board of Urology
If you have questions or would like to book a consultation with one of the surgeons at West County plastic Surgery, please call (314) 996-8800