Are you thinking about responding to that ad in the local paper for liposuction? Better not, unless the ad mentions the golden phrase, "board certified plastic surgeon," and mentions that the cosmetic surgeon has the approval of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the major accountability organization for plastic surgeons and their patients.
What does it mean if a plastic surgeon is board certified? It usually means:
>>The plastic surgeon has finished a specialized post-graduate training course of five to seven years, plus a general surgery background course or a course in ENT or orthopedics
>>The cosmetic surgeon did the two to three final years of training in an approved plastic surgery center
>>The physician/cosmetic surgeon candidate passed rigorous written and oral exams
Be warned, though: Board certification does NOT mean that:
>>Your cosmetic surgeon won't ever commit malpractice
>>A dissatisfied patient with unrealistic expectations won't sue * you absolutely won't experience complications--they happen
>>If nature takes over in several years, your plastic surgeon was incompetent
>>All board certified plastic surgeons are equal in experience, patient history, skill and training
>>Your skin will heal quickly--you do have a tendency toward breakouts and dry skin plus other genetic factors
>>You'll instantly look like a movie star--again, realistic expectations!
>>You won't have an allergic reaction--though your cosmetic surgeon will typically pretest you if you're having a chemical peel or other skin treatment, plus ask you if you have allergies to any injections
What board certification means for you is that your board certified plastic surgeon knows what he or she is doing, and that you can typically check to see if there are any disciplinary actions or suspensions on file. Databases vary from state to state, so contact the American Board of Plastic Surgery when choosing a plastic surgeon. And if the ad doesn't say "board certified plastic surgeon," ask when you schedule a consultation appointment. Who knows--the newspaper could have made an omission (it's been known to happen!)