What Does it Mean for a Surgeon to be Board Certified?

Posted on February 17, 2015 by: Dr. Ronald DeMars


What does it mean for a plastic surgeon to be board certified? It is one of the most confusing things patients ask about, and it is a very important bit of information to have when choosing a surgeon. There is an organization know as the American Board of Medical Specialties which is the oversight organization and is made up of the 24 major specialties in medicine, including plastic surgery. These specific boards are the Gold Standard for all of American medicine. These 24 Boards certify their physician members have attained the highest standards in their specialty by assuring the training of the physician has been adequate to take and pass rigorous multi-day written and oral examinations.

To be qualified to take the American Board of Plastic Surgery exams, a physician has to complete a 5-8 year training program (residency) in plastic surgery and then practice the specialty for 2 years, gathering cases that have been done. These cases are submitted to the board for review to determine if the surgeon uses proper skills in caring for the patients and obtains the expected results.

Patients get particularly confused when they see a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. Doctors certifed by this board are oral surgeons, dermatologists, OB surgeons, eye doctors, etc who are board certified in their specialty and have only one year of training in cosmetic surgery. This board is not sanctioned by the American Board of Medical Specialties and is designed to allow those without formal plastic surgery training to have some credentials.

So, unfortunately, it is “Buyer Beware”. We highly recommend researching the certifications of any surgeon you consider, and require that they are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery before undergoing any procedures.

Dr. DeMars is double board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and American Board of General Surgery. Have any questions about Dr. DeMars’ experience and qualifications? Learn more about his surgical education, memberships and background here.