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Board Certification and Specialization Virginia


Patients often wonder who is the best type of cosmetic surgeon for a Rhinoplasty? There are so many specialties now a day with so many “Boards” that have arisen out of the popularity and lucrative prestige of cosmetic surgery. Separating the truth from deceptive marketing can be difficult. Filtering out the constant mudslinging between different specialties and Boards can become a headache. So here are the facts:

1) The larger overall governing body in the United States is the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

2) There are 24 medical specialty boards under the ABMS.

3) The ABPS (American Board of Plastic Surgery) is one of the main boards overseeing the training and qualifications of Plastic Surgeons

4) The ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgery) and the ASEPS (American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) are the two main societies of Plastic Surgeons.

5) Boards are not the same as Societies or Academies. Boards are the governing bodies responsible for examination and training qualifications as well as the politics and “turf wars.” Academies and Societies are merely membership groups or clubs concentrating more on educational meetings as well as marketing, media.

6) The members of ABPS, ASPS, ASEPS are Plastic Surgeons are also known as general plastic surgeons. These are usually made up of surgeons who have finished 5 years of general surgery training concentrating on abdominal surgery followed by 2 years of plastic surgery covering the entire body. It is not rare to spend only 4-6 months out of the entire 7 years on cosmetic surgery of the face. They can then become certified by the ABPS and can then join the ASPS &/or the ASEPS.

7) ONLY THE ABPS, ASPS, ASEPS which are closely related groups and made up of general plastic surgeons insist on making sure that your plastic surgeon is certified by the ABPS or a member of the ASPS. They have used this “catch phrase” or slogan for decades.

8.) The fact is that the field of Plastic Surgery dates back to head and neck surgeons (Otolaryngologists) who created and coined the field and performed the very first closed rhinoplasty: Dr. John Orlando Roe. Later on an Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Jacques Joseph, also performed a Rhinoplasty and these two men are known as the fathers of modern plastic surgery.

9) The fact is that the prestigious American Board of Otolaryngology (ABO) and all of its members are actually certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) in the EXACT same manner as the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The difference is that ABO does not advertise or market itself due to its bylaws. All Board Certified ENT Surgeons or Head & Neck Surgeons have the exact same level of authority under the American Board of Medical Specialties (The parent board of all boards) to perform plastic surgeon on the face, head and neck. In fact, most ENT surgery residents have done many more facelifts and nose jobs and eyelid lifts by the end of their residency training than most plastic surgery residents have! This is an undisputable fact that was actually published by the Plastic Surgery department of the world famous Cleveland Clinic.

10) The fact is that the only two ABMS boards (out of 24 member boards) certifying its members to perform “Plastic Surgery” are the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology. Oral Surgeons, Oculoplastic Surgeons, Maxillofacial Surgeons and “cosmetic surgeons” are certified by their own boards that are not recognized by the ABMS and there is ongoing debate as to their validity. However these are all experts in their own respective fields with their own area of focus and specialization.

11) The American Board of Plastic Surgery certifies its members to perform plastic surgery on the entire body under the authority of the ABMS.

12) The American Board of Otolaryngology certifies its members to perform plastic surgery only on the head and neck and face (Facial plastic surgery) under the authority of the ABMS. Some ENT surgeons will go beyond the boundaries of their certification and training and will advertise and perform body plastic surgery. This is against the rules of the Board.

13) A minority of Board Certified Head & Neck Surgeons train beyond their initial residency and board certification and complete an accredited fellowship under the governance of the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) and then can try to obtain their second board certification under the prestigious American Board of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS).

14) The AAFPRS is the Facial Plastic Surgeon’s society similar to the ASPS for Plastic Surgeons.

15) The ABFPRS is a sub-specialty Board under the governance of the ABO.

16) Members of the ABFPRS have to have completed and maintained certification by the ABO or the ABPS before being able to sit for the grueling 2-day ABFPRS examination and submit their surgery case logs for certification. Only Board Certified Head & Neck Surgeons or Board Certified Plastic Surgeons can take the exam for the American Board of Facial Plastic Surgery and hope to become Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeons. Some Board Certified Plastic Surgeons in practice seek to become triple board certified, recognizing the value of being certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.

17) Facial Plastic Surgeons have completed a 5 year head and neck surgery residency followed by a one year fellowship exclusively in Facial Plastic Surgery.

18.) Here is the difference:

19) There are other boards as well such as the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) and American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS), American Board of Laser Surgery, etc but these are not under the ABMS and are not validated by a single state in the U.S.

20) Only the ABPS and ABO (and its sub-specialty board ABFPRS) are responsible for maintaining high standards and safety criteria for their members performing plastic surgery on the entire body and face respectively.

21) Only the ABPS and ASPS recommend that your surgeon be certified only by them. The fact is that if you are seeking body plastic surgery then they are correct and your surgeon should be certified by them. However, if you are seeking Facial Plastic Surgery then your surgeon can be certified by the ABPS/ASPS or the ABO/ABFPRS.

Here is the training difference again:

22) There are amazing surgeons certified by both societies and boards. Unfortunately, there are also some very lousy surgeons certified by these governing bodies as well. Just because your surgeon is “board certified” it does not guarantee a safe and successful outcome. But it is the most basic and minimal criteria to start with. The rest depends on training, skill, experience, judgment, talent, ethics, etc. Taking a test and becoming Board Certified is not that hard. But taking excellent care of your patients and not losing site of the fact that you are a physician sworn to “do no harm,” is a life long learning process.

23) Rhinoplasty Specialist Surgeons are a very small subgroup of Facial Plastic Surgeons or Plastic Surgeons who have dedicated the vast majority of their training and practice to the understanding and improvement of aesthetic nasal surgery. Most major cities have one or two such specialists at the most and that is why so many patients fly or drive in from far locations seeking the expertise of Rhinoplasty Specialist Surgeons like Dr. Naderi.