Dr. Steven J. White

What is Board Certification and Why Does it Matter for Plastic Surgery?

“Let the buyer beware.”

This concept is perhaps never more important than when choosing a surgeon to perform your cosmetic surgery. Almost everyone has heard that they should look for “board certification” when seeking a qualified plastic surgeon. Most people do not really understand exactly what this means and what is involved in becoming “board certified.” Unfortunately, there are numerous doctors performing cosmetic surgery that are not properly trained or credentialed.

Many people assume that the
government regulates what type of procedures
or surgery a doctor may perform.

This however is not the case. The type of procedures or surgery a doctor may perform is left to the hospitals to determine. Hospitals grant “privileges” to doctors, which allow them to do procedures and surgery consistent with their training and board certification. Hence, plastic surgeons are granted privileges in plastic surgery, OB/GYNs are granted privileges in OB/GYN, and oral surgeons are granted privileges in oral surgery. Hospitals do not generally allow OB/GYN doctors or oral surgeons to perform cosmetic surgery such as facelifts, breast augmentation, liposuction, or tummy tucks.

There is however no regulation over what
type of procedures a doctor may perform in
an operating room within his own office.

Occasionally, patients are unknowingly drawn by advertising and low pricing to surgeons who lack proper training and experience in cosmetic plastic surgery. The old adage—you get what you pay for—is still generally true. Sometimes patients develop serious complications and poor results when they choose a surgeon based only on low prices.

There are now OB/GYN doctors performing breast augmentation, liposuction, and tummy tucks, dermatologists performing liposuction, ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctors performing breast augmentation and tummy tucks, and even oral surgeons (dentists) performing facelifts, liposuction, and breast surgery. In many cases, these surgeons are board certified in their chosen specialty… but not in plastic surgery. A special point is frequently made to assure prospective patients that these surgeons are “board certified.”

There is however only 1 board—The American Board of Plastic Surgery—which is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialists to reflect a surgeon’s training in plastic and reconstructive surgery of the face and body.

Certification of Your Surgeon, Dr. White

The American Board of Medical Specialists (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. They are as follows:

  • Allergy & Immunology
  • Anesthesiology
  • Colon and Rectal Surgery
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Family Practice
  • Internal Medicine
  • Medical Genetics
  • Neurological Surgery
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery
  • Pathology
  • Pediatrics
  • Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  • Plastic Surgery*
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Neurology
  • Radiology
  • Surgery
  • Thoracic Surgery
  • Urology

You may call the ABMS at 1-800-776-2378 to see if your surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Give them the name of your surgeon and they will tell you if and when he or she was certified.

Certification by other boards does not give you the same protection. Other boards have less strict criteria for certification and some require only a fee. A few of the boards that have not been approved by the ABMS are as follows:

  • Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
  • Cosmetic Plastic Surgery
  • Facial Cosmetic Surgery
  • Plastic Esthetic Surgery
  • Dermatologic Surgery
  • Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery

You may also want to call the local hospital and ask the Medical Staff Office secretary whether your surgeon has privileges to perform the proposed procedures in the hospital.

Dr. Steven J. White has dedicated 8 years of intensive training after medical school in order to be fully trained in both Otolaryngology and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He is one of the few plastic surgeons in the United States certified by both the American Board Of Otolaryngology / Head & Neck Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery (2 of the 24 boards recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialists). Dr. White maintains privileges in plastic and reconstructive surgery at several area hospitals and surgery centers.

Choosing the surgeon to perform your cosmetic surgery is a most important decision. We believe you will agree… Dr. White is the intelligent choice to enhance your image.

Please contact us if we may answer any questions or set up a consultation for you. We look forward to meeting with you.