Plastic surgery patients urged to find doctors board certified

Whenever the topic of cosmetic surgery comes up, people often are advised by respected surgeons to make sure any physician they seek out is "board certified."

What that generally turns out to mean in Las Vegas is that the physician is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, medical associations that require specialized education and training in order to carry the "board certified" distinction.

According to the plastic surgery board's website, that board certification can only be realized by an individual who has graduated from an accredited medical school and has done at least five years of further surgical training, including at least two years devoted entirely to plastic surgery.

Plastic surgery training involves more than skill in cosmetic surgery, including skill in the design and surgery of grafts, flaps and free tissue transfer and transplantation. Competence in the management of complex wounds, the use of implantable materials and tumor surgery is required.

A written and oral examination must be passed.

To become board certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, an individual must first be a graduate of an accredited medical school, and then be certified in a surgical speciality, such as general surgery, by a board recognized by a professional medical organization, one of which is the American Board of Medical Specialties.

That is followed by a one-year fellowship in cosmetic surgery where at least 300 cosmetic procedures are done. That is a minimum of five years of training beyond medical school.

A fellowship in cosmetic surgery includes training in how to enhance appearance through surgical and medical techniques. Unlike someone with training in plastic surgery, no time is dedicated to reconstruction of facial and body defects because of birth disorders, trauma, burns and disease.

A written and oral examination must be passed.

Contact reporter Paul Harasim at or 702-387-2908.