Board Certification for Plastic Surgeons

Did you know that any licensed medical doctor can claim to be a “cosmetic” or “plastic” surgeon regardless of their training?  Yes, it is true and it is legal!  Plastic Surgeons are highly trained for their specialty just as neurosurgeons are trained for their specialty.  State medical licensure is not granted according to specialty but merely the primary medical license upon completion of general medical school.  If a physician wishes to continue their medical training to become a specialist, they continue on for surgical residencies usually followed by a fellowship (like an internship). 

To become a real plastic surgeon, they must complete a General Surgery Residency (3 Years of formal training), then complete a Plastic Surgery Residency (2 Years of formal training), then complete a Fellowship (6months to one year).  Upon completion of these requirements, the surgeon may “sit for their boards.”  The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only recognized board certification by the American Board of Medical Specialities which oversees all board certifications for the various specialities.  In order for a surgeon to become “board certified,” they must complete a written exam followed by oral exams.  There are other board certifications that pertain to cosmetic/plastic surgery, but they are not recognized board certifications due to their lack of formal training requirements.  There is one SUB-specialty board certification for FACIAL plastic surgery that can be obtained by physicians whom are already board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology(Ear, Nose, & Throat).  They offer a Sub-specialty board certification if the physician completes a ONE year Fellowship in FACIAL plastic surgery.  This board certification does not require a formal plastic surgery residency as a requirement to sit for their board exam, nor does it pertain to ANY surgery of the body.

Having worked in my husband’s Plastic Surgery practice for over 10 years, I have witnessed some astonishing marketing efforts by physicians whom are not qualitified due to lack of proper training, yet advertise they are “board certified” when in fact they truly are not.  One of these board certifications that is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties is the American Board of COSMETIC Surgery.  See the difference?  This is a group of OB-GYNS, Urologists, family practice physicians, general surgeons, and so on who do not have formal plastic surgery training.  Their requirements for this board certification are very lenient, but look on the bright side: they do require the physician be drug tested. 

I have personally witnessed the devastation created by these phony plastic surgeons.  Patients are sold a Fairy Tale, unrealistic expectations, and lured by cheap prices, but ended up with botched results requiring reconstructive surgery to correct their new deformities. 

Don’t let this be you!  If you needed a neurosurgeon, you would check referrals, training background, history, and credentials, right?  Do the same when seeking cosmetic or reconstructive plastic surgery.

There are  Three GOLDEN Resources to help you find a REAL plastic surgeon:

The American Board of Plastic Surgery:

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons:

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons:

The latter two are the creme-de-la-creme of Plastic Surgery professional organizations.  They adhere to a strict codes of ethics, continuing medical education requirements, and also require them to be board certified by the first resource: the American Board of Plastic Surgery.   All three of these resources can help you find the right Plastic Surgeon for you.

Good Luck!

About The Plastic Truth

Plastic Surgery Practice Manager, Founder of, kidney donor, website administrator, all things plastic surgery blogger, and non-profit executive administrator. Google
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