Why You Should Choose a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon
There are risks associated with any type of surgery, whether for medical reasons or enhancing your appearance—and it’s important to do your due diligence when selecting a doctor. “You obviously wouldn’t go to a podiatrist for back surgery and unfortunately, many patients don’t understand that a board-certified plastic surgeon is the medical specialist who has the training and experience necessary for performing aesthetic procedures,” explains . “Plastic surgery is extremely safe when you’re in the right hands, but selecting the wrong provider can be a big risk.”
“Selecting a board-certified plastic surgeon is the best way to ensure your surgeon has the proper knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to safely perform these procedures with optimal results,” Dr. Earle says, and the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is the only recognized board by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) for aesthetic plastic surgeons. When you don’t select an ABPS board-certified plastic surgeon, you leave yourself vulnerable to myriad potential problems. “Technically, anyone can offer non-surgical or surgery-based cosmetic enhancement procedures, whether they are a physician or not. There have been many reports of serious complications following procedures performed by unqualified providers,” Dr. Earle explains.
“Aside from lack of skill, as well as the knowledge and equipment necessary to handle an unexpected surgical event, an unsterile surgical environment that can lead to post-operative infection. Materials and devices that are not approved for use by the U.S. FDA should be a serious concern as well,” says Dr. Earle. Amongst the most common is injectable silicone, which is commonly used illegally for inexpensive back-alley buttocks augmentation. Although there are several FDA-approved uses for medical-grade injectable silicone, it is not approved for cosmetic use—and unscrupulous providers can easily buy industrial-grade silicone from home improvement stores—and inject it into unsuspecting patients. Dr. Earle warns, “This material has no business being placed into any human body, and serious long-term consequences including disfigurement, infection and death have been associated with the use of injectable silicone, regardless of the provider’s credentials.” Bottom line: A board-certified plastic surgeon would never offer non-medical grade injectable silicone as an option for cosmetic enhancement.
In addition to confirming that a plastic surgeon is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, it’s also important to make sure the doctor you choose has privileges to perform the specific procedure you are considering at a local hospital. “Many plastic surgeons have in-office surgical suites, but hospital privileges mean a doctor has been vetted to perform surgery under their roof. If your surgeon does not have these privileges, this should be a red flag,” Dr. Earle warns.
Many prospective patients also consider traveling abroad for plastic surgery because of lower prices, “Board certification criteria vary from country to country,” says Dr. Earle. “It can be difficult to confirm a foreign doctor’s level of training, as well as their safety track record. Please be sure to do extensive research on the surgeon prior to committing to travel outside the U.S.”