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Board Certified versus Board Eligible

What is the difference?

This is a fair question. The American Board Of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) has not that long ago changed their stance on this item. They now consider that a candidate applying to become a member of the board has no standing with them until both written and oral examinations are completed. This can take years.

To become certified by the ABPS, a candidate must complete a qualified residency in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery after which the two exams I mentioned above must be taken. The term "Board Eligible" is not recognized by the board. The board will not verify a candidate's position with them until the certification process is completed. This in my opinion is silly as candidates are qualified to practice plastic surgery once they complete a residency program. The rest of the certification process is really paperwork and exams having coincidental similarities to the real practice of plastic surgery. I say this having completed certification by both the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery.

My own point of contention is that training and experience are the most important criteria in choosing a surgeon. Board certification does not guarantee these items. A simple method to check out your surgeon follows:

(1) Ask about where your surgeon received residency training. What university? Did he complete the program and in what year? Call the university to check this out.

(2) Ask at which hospitals your surgeon operates. Call one or more of these hospitals and ask if your procedure could be performed there. You are checking to see if your doctor has privileges to perform your surgery at the hospital. Doctors on a credentialing committee grant these privileges in a hospital after they check out the surgeon's background. Let the credentialing committee credential your surgeon for you. They frequently can smell a fraud a mile away.

(3) Ask your surgeon about Board Certification and/or eligibility. If he is certified, by what board? If it is an ABMS board, go to the ABMS web site and check it out HERE.

(4) Look at pictures of previous patients. Do they look at all like you do prior to surgery? Do you like the way they look after surgery?

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Note: This piece is written for the general information of those seeking Cosmetic Surgery. It is presented freely in this format for this purpose. No other rights are granted. It may not be duplicated, cited or otherwise copied in any form without the written consent of the author.

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© John Di Saia, MD... an Orange County California Plastic Surgeon       Dr John Di Saia, an orange county california plastic surgeon