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Does Board Certified Really Matter?

As the field of aesthetic medicine and cosmetic surgery have grown due to increasing demand, so have the number of options and choices in service providers for consumers. And so has the confusion regarding training credentials and qualifications of those physicians and other ancillary professionals providing those services.

We’ve all seen the term ‘Board Certified’ and even ‘Double Board Certified’ advertised for doctors promoting aesthetic services. What you and most prospective patients may not know is that some physicians promoting their ‘Board Certified’ credentials are not actually board certified in the specialty directly related to the procedures they are performing or promoting!

Does that matter? Actually, it does. Outcome clinical studies have proven that complications, often serious, are statistically higher in patients receiving aesthetic services both surgical and non-surgical from physicians without Board Certification directly related to the specific type of service performed. Shockingly, some of these Board Certified doctors that are promoting their ‘Board Certified’ status have their certification in a non-related medical specialty or an unofficial board and are performing surgical and invasive procedures without any valid or certified surgical training!

Because of this lack of transparency and related increased patient complications, the state of Florida enacted legislation requiring those practices who advertise Board Certifications to identify in what particular field they are actually board certified. Unfortunately for patients, this is not the case in Ohio and most other states.

When performed by an appropriately trained physician or professional service provider, cosmetic surgery and aesthetic services are safe, effective and can significantly improve the quality of life for patients of all ages. But please be careful, do your homework and before undergoing any elective surgery, cosmetic injection, laser or aesthetic service, please be sure to get specific answers to the following questions:

  1. In what actual specialty does your doctor have their ‘Board Certification’ and is directly related to the procedure you are considering?
  2. Is the ‘Board’ one of the 19 recognized specialties by the American Board of Medical Specialties? Remember there is no official Board of ‘Cosmetic Surgery.’
  3. Will your elective surgery or procedure be done in a credentialed outpatient operating facility?
  4. What specific training/experience does your nurse or service professional have and are they officially certified and licensed?
  5. Is your skin care service provider officially licensed in aesthetics and what training do they have?
  6. Keep in mind that any doctor can legally market themselves as a ‘specialist’ or ‘Board Certified’ in any specialty even if they have never actually received credentialed training in that specialty.

Board Certification was established by the American Board of Medical Specialties to identify those physicians that have completed supervised training in specific areas or specialties of medicine and surgery. The intention or purpose is to improve patient safety and outcomes as well as to provide transparency about a physician’s qualifications and skills. Please remember to always check the specific specialty of Board Certification of a physician when considering any cosmetic surgery or aesthetic procedure as the results may have lifelong implications.

Frank Barone MD, FACS

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