How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon

What is Plastic Surgery Board Certification?

The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to certify a surgeon in plastic surgery of the face and body. Board certification in plastic surgery requires:

  • Graduation from an accredited medical school.
  • Completion of a minimum of 5 years of surgical residency following medical school with a minimum of 2 years in an accredited plastic surgery residency program devoted to training in both cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery.
  • Successful completion of comprehensive written and oral exams covering both cosmetic and reconstructive surgical procedures.

In summary, board certification in plastic surgery requires successful completion of highly rigorous training; the process is among the most extensive of any medical or surgical specialty.

Additionally, members of the ASPS operate only in accredited medical facilities, adhere to a strict code of ethics, and fulfill continuing medical education requirements, including standards and innovations in patient safety.

Choosing a Plastic Surgeon


When choosing to have cosmetic surgery, find a plastic and cosmetic surgeons who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) as the first step in ensuring quality care and outcomes.

In addition to checking for proper credentials, you can find a plastic surgeon through personal referrals from friends and family and then evaluate the surgeon's experience and his or her general reputation in the community to help guide your choice. You should be comfortable and feel at ease with asking any questions that you may have. Any consultation should be conducted with the surgeon who will be actually performing your surgery. As you work to find the right plastic surgeon, you should be aware that consultations with a nurse or sales person that involve recommending or deciding what surgery you should have are inappropriate.

Finally, although cost is an important factor, make sure you weigh it against the qualifications of your plastic surgeon and the quality of care of the facility. You should base your choice of surgeon on board certification, qualifications, experience, reputation, operating facility accreditation, and your comfort level with the surgeon.

To find the right plastic surgeon for you, ask the right questions to get the best treatment. Find out:

  • If the plastic surgeon is board certified and with which board.
  • How many surgeries of this type the surgeon performs each year.
  • How many years the surgeon has performed this type of surgery.
  • What hospital(s) the surgeon admits patients in case of an emergency. You can also check with the hospital for the surgeon's credentials.
  • If the surgeon operates in an accredited facility.
  • Who administers the anesthesia. This person should be a board-certified anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist.
  • The risks and complications of the surgery and what happens when they occur.
  • Review "before" and "after" photographs of the patients operated on by your surgeon.

Note: In many states, any physician with a valid medical license can legally perform surgery. With the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery, there has been an increase in cosmetic surgery carried out by surgeons without standardized specialty training. As such, some surgeons are performing cosmetic procedures that are out of their scope of practice. In addition, depending on the state, doctors in private practice with surgical suites do not need to meet the same legal requirements as a hospital or an accredited ambulatory care center. In today's seemingly endless multitude of choices, it is clear that looking for the proper credentials is essential for you to find and choose your plastic surgeon.


The following links are to websites that can help you find plastic surgeons in Michigan.

American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Find information on cosmetic surgery procedures. All of the surgeons listed are board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS): Find information on board certification of plastic surgeons.
American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS): Find more information about the American Board of Medical Specialties, a not-for-profit organization comprising 24 medical specialty boards. It is the pre-eminent entity overseeing physician certification in the United States.
Breast Implant Information: Find information regarding breast implants and safety issues for the general public from this authoritative source.
Looking Your Best Find more information and photographs on cosmetic surgery.
Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, Inc. (AAAHC) To help you find accrediting information for cosmetic and plastic surgeons and their facilities. Accredited facilities that are committed to providing high-quality health care and that demonstrate a commitment by measuring up to the Accreditation Association's high standards.
American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) Certifies ambulatory surgery facilities and provides practice guidelines for surgeons working in ambulatory surgical facilities.