Updated August 2018
You want the best breast implant results, right? Choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon is crucial for your safety and the quality of your breast augmentation. Certification means your breast implant surgeon has undergone rigorous testing and scrutiny to prove their ability to perform the elected surgery and handle the potential complications that may come with it. Here's what to know and look for:
1. Know who your breast augmentation plastic surgeon should be certified by
The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is an independent, nonprofit organization that assesses and certifies a surgeon’s ability to perform plastic surgery to the highest standards. It is one of the 24 different specialty boards that is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), a governing body that established national standards for plastic surgeon certification in 1933.
Some surgeons receive accreditation from the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS), but this Board is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties and these surgeons can't attain certification from the ABPS. ABCS certification means your surgeon has fewer years of surgical training or different medical backgrounds. It doesn't mean he isn't capable of performing your breast augmentation, but you should be sure to closely examine his background and qualifications to ensure he can perform your surgery according to peak standards.
2. Know what training your breast implant surgeon should have
For a plastic surgeon to become board certified, they must first graduate medical school and complete their residency training in plastic surgery. An additional two years of post-residency practice is required, along with compiling published articles, honors, positions of distinction, international recognition, or other contributions that have furthered the science and practice of plastic surgery.
The ABPS certification also requires them to:
- Pass comprehensive oral and written exams from the ABPS
- Regularly attend continuing medical education courses to stay current with developments in their field
- Adhere to a strict code of ethics
- Document the performance of a significant number and variety of cosmetic surgical cases to demonstrate wide experience
- Obtain hospital privileges
3. Check your breast augmentation plastic surgeon's board certification
Your breast augmentation surgeon may claim ABPS certification on their business card or website, but it's important to check on the official ABPS website. You can search for your plastic surgeon by their name or location.
Another avenue is to check with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). To become a member of the ASPS, a surgeon must be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and capable of performing both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Only then can plastic surgeons call themselves ASPS members and use the ASPS Symbol of Excellence (logo).
4. Investigate your plastic surgeon's disciplinary history
The best way is to check your state board. State medical boards are very useful. You can view your plastic surgeon's disciplinary history, if there is one. Note that if your plastic surgeon has practiced in more than one state, you'll need to check with each state to get a comprehensive disciplinary history.
Some information you'll find:
- Malpractice suits
- Disciplinary actions taken by the Board
- Hospital disciplinary actions and suspensions
5. Ensure your surgery center is accredited too
While your surgeon may perform your breast augmentation in a hospital setting or outpatient surgery center (also known as an ambulatory care facility or ambulatory surgery center), board-certified plastic surgeons who work in accredited surgery centers have lower rates of serious complications (>0.5%) and mortality rates (>0.000017%).
Accredited surgery centers are strictly verified by private organizations to have the right equipment, safety standards, and trained medical staff ready for your care. All the necessary equipment and trained staff are there to monitor your condition and care for you while you recuperate. This is especially important in case a complication or a life-threatening emergency comes up.
The three main accrediting organizations for surgery centers are:
- Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC)
- Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO)
- The American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF)