Researching Your Plastic Surgeon
Check your doctor's credentials before consenting to any plastic surgery, including breast augmentation
The information in this section is a guide to verifying the credentials of plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists and operating suites. Links to the online search tools of the organizations that govern licensing, certification and accreditation make it easy to find what you're looking for.
You can verify that your plastic surgeon is licensed to practice medicine and review any disciplinary actions by contacting the state or provincial medical board, or by using its Website. These boards exist to protect health care consumers by licensing and regulating physicians and other health care professionals.
Each state and province has laws that govern the practice of medicine and the regulatory responsibilities of its medical board. The licensing process ensures that all practicing physicians are properly educated and trained, and abide by standards of professional conduct. Medical boards also evaluate complaints and other reports and take disciplinary measures as necessary.
Medical Board Listings
American Board of Plastic Surgery
The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is one of 24 specialty boards that comprise the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). A physician who is "board-certified" can be certified by any of these 24 boards that represent medical specialties. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the plastic surgeon who performs your breast augmentation surgery is board-certified in plastic surgery (by the ABPS).
Choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon assures you that your doctor has completed extensive training and passed rigorous examinations. Physicians must meet several requirements to be board-certified by the ABPS:
- Graduate from an accredited medical school.
- Complete at least an additional 5 years as a resident surgeon. This period must include a minimum of 2 years of residency in plastic surgery and a minimum of 3 years of residency in general surgery.
- Successfully complete written and oral examinations, including a review of their cases for the past year.
You can verify that your plastic surgeon is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery on the ABMS website or by calling 1-866-ASK-ABMS (1-866-275-2267). Visitors to the website must register (for free) before using the service. The search listings will tell you which specialty board certifies your doctor.
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
Plastic surgeons in Canada are certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). The RCPSC is a national organization that is responsible for setting and maintaining standards for postgraduate medical education, certifying specialist physicians and surgeons, and promoting continuing education.
You can verify that your plastic surgeon is certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada on the RCPSC website.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. All ASPS physician members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). The ASPS represents more than 7,000 physician members and includes over 90% of all plastic surgeons in the United States who are board-certified.
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) is the only plastic surgery organization that is entirely devoted to advancing cosmetic surgery. With 2,600 members, the ASAPS is recognized worldwide for cosmetic surgery education. U.S. members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Canadian members are certified in plastic surgery by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC).
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons (CSPS) is a professional organization for plastic surgeons who have passed the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) examinations and are certified to practice.
Canadian Society for Aesthetic Cosmetic Plastic Surgery
The Canadian Society for Aesthetic Cosmetic Plastic Surgery (CSAPS) is dedicated to improved cosmetic surgery outcomes through education, research and the maintenance of high surgical standards of clinical practice.
Medical School Accreditation
You can verify that your plastic surgeon's medical school is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). The LCME is the only organization which determines the accreditation status of programs leading to the M.D. degree and does so in the United States and Canada. Programs must meet national standards to be accredited.
If you have general anesthesia, you can make sure that your anesthesiologist is certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) by searching the ABA Diplomate and Candidate Directory. The ABA examines and certifies physicians who complete an accredited program of anesthesiology training in the United States and voluntarily apply for certification or maintenance of certification.
If your doctor uses a nurse anesthetist, you can make sure they are certified by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) by calling 847-692-7082. The AANA represents more than 30,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) nationwide.
Operating Suite Accreditation
Most breast augmentations are performed at outpatient surgery facilities as opposed to hospitals. Outpatient facilities may be accredited by national or state agencies, licensed by the state or certified by Medicare. National accrediting agencies for outpatient facilities include:
- The American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF). Visit their website to search for facilities accredited by the AAAASF. Outpatient surgery facilities accredited by the AAAASF must meet stringent national standards for equipment, operating room safety, personnel and surgeon credentials.
- The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). Visit their website to search for AAAHC accredited organizations by name, specialty (e.g., plastic surgery) and other criteria. The AAAHC accredits more than 2,300 organizations in a wide variety of ambulatory health care settings.
- The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Visit their website to search for health care organizations accredited by the JCAHO. The JCAHO is an independent, not-for-profit organization that evaluates and accredits more than 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.
Finding out if your plastic surgeon has privileges to operate in an accredited hospital can provide some insight. Doctors with operating privileges have been found competent by the hospital review committee following evaluation for specific procedures.