It’s a question we’re asked time and time again; “What type of certifications should I look for in a plastic surgeon…whether they are a doctor in the US or located internationally? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.” Jenn M. Seattle, WA
The certification that you should be looking for is Board Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This is the only true original board for certification in Plastic Surgery with the highest standards for education and training, and the most rigorous written and oral examinations to achieve certification. It can be very confusing at times for patients because there are a number of other so-called “boards” in Cosmetic Surgery, but there are no actual accredited programs for training in “cosmetic surgery”. These boards have been invented by surgeons who have not had true training and education in plastic surgery (often being originally trained in Ob-Gyn or Oral surgery), but who are attempting to re-invent themselves as cosmetic surgeons.
Outside of the U.S., each country will have its own standards and certifications, but the American Board of Plastic Surgery is truly considered to be the “gold standard”.
While there are excellent plastic surgeons throughout the world most would agree that the greatest number of excellent surgeons and the highest standards are in the U.S. Patients will sometimes look to have procedures outside of the U.S. in order to save money, but there a number of flaws in that decision process. First, if one has to travel a good distance one needs to add in the costs of flights and accommodations to really get a fair comparison. Also in places where the costs are truly lower, the standards for surgeon training and certification are much lower, and the standards for ancillary staff (nurses) and facilities (OR centers) are also much lower. This translates into higher error and complication rates. Another factor that patients fail to consider is post-operative care.
In the U.S. it is fairly standard for a Real Plastic Surgeon to include at least six months of post-operative care in the cost of the surgery. This is one reason why costs are lower when traveling abroad because they are not providing this important post-operative care for a long period. If you have surgery abroad and have a complication and then have to return home, the costs of getting that care can exceed several times over the original cost of the surgery.