Dr. Kimberly Short: Making Sense of Board Certification

Almost everyone has heard they should look for “board certification” when seeking a qualified plastic surgeon (or any other physician). Most people don’t fully understand exactly what this means and what is involved in becoming “board certified.” We believe all patients need this information to make informed choices in their search for the right surgeon, surgery facility, and anesthesia provider.

At the Gillian Institute, we have gone to great effort and expense to ensure the highest standard of safety for our patients. As you consider plastic surgery, we hope the following information will help you evaluate the choices available to you.

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is the agency that oversees sub-specialty boards. More than 100 “boards” have been submitted to the ABMS for formal approval but only 24 have met their strict educational and examination criteria. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only ABMS board that has traditionally overseen the training and certification of plastic and reconstructive surgeons. Certification from other boards does not give you the same protection. Other boards have a less strict criteria for certification and may only require a payment fee for proof of certification.

Boards that have NOT been approved by the ABMS include: Cosmetic Plastic Surgery or the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, Facial Cosmetic Surgery, Plastic Aesthetic Surgery, Cosmetic Dermatology, or Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery. Many types of licensed physicians may perform plastic and cosmetic surgery procedures such as General Surgeons, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeons, Dermatologists, Gynecologists, and Family Physicians. There is not one board that oversees all cosmetic surgeons or determines which physicians can do cosmetic procedures.

Unfortunately, patient ultimately have the responsibility to determine which physicians are qualified in cosmetic surgery. To determine whether a physician is trained and board certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery, you may go to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) website at www.plasticsurgery.org. You may also want to contact the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) at www.surgery.org whom admits only board certified plastic surgeons who specialize in cosmetic surgery and a majority of their practice is devoted to the field of Aesthetic (Cosmetic) surgery.

Dr. Kimberly Short is an active member of both the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS).

NOTE: Only members may display the ASPS and ASAPS logos. These are symbols of excellence in plastic surgery and these are the symbols you want to look for as a patient when seeking a plastic surgeon. It tells you that your choosing a physician who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

What are the Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Plastic Surgeon?

  • What is your board certification, and what professional societies are you a member of for example, the ASPS?
  • Is the facility where I would have my procedure accredited? By which organization? At which hospitals do you have staff privileges for the procedure you will perform on me?
  • What procedure do you recommend to help me best achieve my goals? What are the risks of the procedure and what is the recovery period anticipated?
  • Who administers the anesthesia? Ideally, this person is a board certified anesthesiologist for all procedures requiring general anesthesia.
  • What is your recent experience in performing the procedure you are recommending for me? May I see before and after photographs of your patients’ results?