Plastic Surgeons: Do You Get What You Pay For?

By R. Samuel Bryant, MD, Cosmetic Surgeon
June 4, 2010


All plastic surgeons are not alike. Yet it is difficult to tell them apart by reading their advertising. And determining who is best for you is much more involved than just comparing their fees. Do you get what you pay for? Not necessarily.


The main difference in the outcome of a cosmetic procedure is based on many things. Certainly two of those things are the training and the experience of the surgeon. Sometimes this can be very difficult to determine from advertising or a phone call.


For instance, you know your surgeon should be “board-certified,” but every medical specialty has its own board, so almost every physician could be board-certified in his or her own specialty. These specialists could include dermatologists, ophthalmologists, gynecologists, and family practice physicians. Yet none of these are necessarily board-certified in plastic surgery.


Even among those stating board certification in plastic surgery, there is a difference. With the increased interest in cosmetic surgery, new “boards” have sprung up. There are cosmetic surgery boards, facial cosmetic surgery boards, aesthetic surgery boards, and so on. Anyone can invent a board and create a certificate of membership.


Fortunately, there is a defining group to help sort the genuine boards from the knockoffs. The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) has the authority for maintaining strict criteria for each specialty board. They base their inclusion on proof of completion of specific training by approved residency programs. They are the organization that guarantees that every physician is properly trained within his or her specialty.


The ABMS recognizes only one board certification for plastic surgeons. It is the American Board of Plastic Surgeons. In order to qualify for this board, a surgeon must have completed five years of surgical training with two additional years of plastic and reconstructive surgery training in approved programs.


You can be assured that your board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon has been specifically trained in all cosmetic surgery procedures and has had ample experience to perform any of those procedures. As important, he has the training to recognize problems early and treat them if needed. Many of the physicians performing cosmetic surgery after a series of weekend courses would have extremely limited experience in dealing with complications or needed revisions. Also, a board-certified plastic surgeon will only use safe, fully tested procedures, which have FDA approval and known outcomes.


Choosing the plastic and reconstructive surgeon best for you requires an office appointment. That will give you the opportunity to meet the surgeon and ask questions. Make sure you will be talking directly with the surgeon at your appointment. Ask him about his experience performing the procedure that you are interested in and whether he will be performing it himself. You can also find out about surgeons by talking with your doctor or a friend who has had the same procedure.


Dr. Sam Bryant of Bryant Cosmetic Surgery is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Additionally, he specializes in cosmetic surgery procedures. If you would like to make a free cosmetic appointment with Dr. Bryant, call 402.484.7001.


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