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1206 Somerville Rd
Decatur, AL 35603

About Plastic Surgery

What Is A Board Certified Plastic Surgeon?

Board certified plastic surgeons have an obligation to educate the public.  This includes not only information about the surgical procedures, but information on the certification process and the ethics of the practice of plastic surgery.

A board certified plastic surgeon is a very specific thing.  Board certified plastic surgeons must first complete some basic general surgical training.  This could mean completing a 5 year general surgery residency followed by a 2 year plastic surgery residency.  But recently there are plastic surgery programs that are integrated with the general surgery experience and in this case the residents complete 3 years of general surgery followed by 3 years of plastic surgery training.  Approved plastic surgery programs in the United States meet stringent training requirements and are overseen by the national Plastic Surgery Residency Review Committee.  Therefore, the minimum amount of surgical training a board certified plastic surgeon would have is 6 years of training.  I have 8 years of training.
Board certified plastic surgeons then get board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery which was founded in 1937 and is responsible for testing plastic surgeons with a written and oral examination.  It is also responsible for re-testing and re-certifying practicing plastic surgeons every 10 years.  This is the original board that certified plastic surgeons in the United States.

The special thing about the American Board of Plastic Surgery is that it is a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties.  The American Board of Medical Specialties is a very important umbrella organization that oversees the 24 approved specialty boards in the United States.  This organization has very important input in terms of quality control regarding the certification processes of the member boards.  These include other specialties that people are familiar with such as General Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, Radiology, Urology, etc..

There are other similar sounding boards that are NOT the American Board of Plastic Surgery.  For instance, the Board of Cosmetic Surgery or the Board of Facial Plastic Surgery.   These are not the American Board of Plastic Surgery, they do not have the long heritage of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and are NOT members of the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Advertising and Board Certification?

The public must be aware that there are very few laws controlling advertising and the use of the term "Board Certified."   In Alabama, you do not have to specifically print in your advertisement what specialty you are board certified in.  You will see many advertisements for cosmetic procedures where the physician will have "Board Certified" in the advertisement.  However, this does NOT mean they are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.  The person advertising could be a board certified dentist, gynecologist, family physician and have no formal training in cosmetic procedures!  Do you really want a gynecologist doing your liposuction, an dentist injecting your Botox, a dermatologist doing you eyelid surgery or a family physician doing your laser surgery?

Remember, the term "Board Certified" in an advertisement does NOT mean you are seeing a board certified plastic surgeon!  The public must be informed when choosing a doctor and must ask what specialty their doctor has his or her board certified in.

What is the Easiest Way To Find a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon?

Look for the logo of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This is the symbol of excellence in plastic surgery.

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The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the largest plastic surgery specialty organization in the world. Founded in l93l, the society is composed of board-certified plastic surgeons who perform cosmetic surgery of the face and body and reconstructive surgery on all parts of the body.

The mission of ASPS is to advance quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery.  The society is an advocate for patient safety, such as requiring its members to operate in accredited surgical facilities that have passed rigorous external review of equipment and staffing.  The society works in concert with the Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation (PSEF), founded in 1948, which supports research and educational programs for plastic surgeons.

If your surgeon is displaying this logo you know he or she is a real board certified plastic surgeon, is being held to high ethical standards by this society and is fulfilling requirements for continuing education.