David B. Reath, MD
Knoxville, TN (865) 450-9253
HKB Knoxville Staff

How To Pick The Best Plastic Surgeon

First Things First:
What You Should Know Before You Have Plastic Surgery

Not every doctor who advertises plastic surgery is really a plastic surgeon. So how do you know if your doctor has the proper credentials to perform your plastic surgery? And how do you pick the best plastic surgeon for you?

rewardsgirlThis page will address some very important fundamental issues about plastic surgery, and give you a list of helpful resources for your research. In a word, plastic surgery education is key.

To this end, Dr. David Reath has always been very involved with educating the public about plastic surgery. Because of this passion, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the foremost authority in plastic surgery, appointed Dr. Reath as Chairman of their national Plastic Surgery Education Committee.

Be sure that the doctor you choose for your plastic surgery is really a plastic surgeon.

There is a trend in that you should know about if you or a friend is considering plastic surgery and it’s happening here in Knoxville. It’s becoming common to find physicians certified in other specialties performing plastic surgery procedures. Even doctors with no surgical training are performing and marketing plastic surgery procedures in their offices.

The first questions everyone asks when we tell them about this is, “Isn’t there some kind of a law in Tennessee that prevents doctors from performing surgeries they are not trained to perform?” The answer is unfortunately no. It is not against the law for a doctor with 4 years of medical school, and no surgical training, to set up an office and perform plastic surgery. And it is not against the law for a physician certified in another specialty such as family practice, or dermatology to begin performing plastic surgery. With the demand for plastic surgery increasing and insurance payments to physicians decreasing, it is likely we will see more, not less of this.

It is not enough anymore to just ask a doctor if they are “board certified”. Most doctors are board certified in some medical specialty or another. What you need is a doctor certified or eligible to be certified in plastic surgery.

Dr. Reath addresses this “White Coat Confusion” here in a popular Truth-O-Meter Tuesday video.

So how can you be sure that the physician you are considering is the one best qualified to do your plastic surgery?

Look for this Seal of Safety: Your best friend when considering plastic surgery.

Member American Society of Plastic SurgeonsThe only board that certifies plastic surgeons is the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Don’t be confused by the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, the American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery or other boards mentioning plastic surgery. Be aware that these are self-appointed boards (meaning any group of doctors could start one.) The American Board of Medical Specialties does not recognize them, and their members are not board-certified plastic surgeons.

Great Resources for Your Research

  • So you can be better prepared for your consultation, we have prepared a list of important plastic surgery questions you will want to ask your doctor before you have your surgery. If your consultation is with Dr. Reath, please feel free to print this out and he will be happy to go over everything with you during your visit. Top Ten Questions to Ask your Plastic Surgeon
  • Even though the majority of cosmetic surgery patients are pleased with their results, the decision to have a procedure is a big one. It is normal to have questions, and it’s important to answer them honestly. In the end, you want to be completely comfortable with your decision. So, are you clear about your motivations for surgery? Are your expectations realistic? Test yourself by answering these important questions. How to Know if You Are  Ready for Plastic Surgery.

What Plastic Surgery Board Certification Means to You

Although good credentials can’t guarantee a successful outcome, when you choose an ASPS Member Surgeon, you know that your doctor:

  • Has at least six years of surgical training, with 3 years specifically in plastic surgery.
  • Is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
  • Operates only in accredited medical facilities.
  • Adheres to a strict code of ethics.
  • Fulfills continuing education requirements, including patient safety techniques.

The American Board of Medical Specialties, an organization that oversees all medical specialty boards, has certified that each ASPS member is uniquely qualified to perform plastic surgery of the face and all areas of the body. In addition ASPS members must regularly attend continuing plastic surgery medical education courses and adhere to a strict code of ethics.

All have met the rigid requirements of 4 years medical school, and at least 6 to 9 years of surgical training with the final years dedicated exclusively to plastic surgery. The continuing medical education requirement means that board-certified plastic surgeons never stop learning new techniques and advances in the field of plastic surgery. Dr. Reath explains more in the video:

After these years of training in surgery and plastic surgery, there is one big final hurdle to cross before a physician can be board certified. He or she has to pass the test for board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), and, as Dr. Reath will tell you, this is not a given. This is one tough test!

So, before having plastic surgery by a doctor who is not a member of the ASPS, here is some wise advice from ASPS Past President Richard D’Amico, MD: “As a patient, you should be asking yourself, ‘Why wouldn’t this surgeon be board certified in plastic surgery?'”

If you are researching plastic surgery, you may have questions or suggestions for topics that you would like to know more about. Chances are if you want to know more, others will too. Please send Dr. Reath these thoughts and suggestions. Your input might be a great subject for a blog post or even influence plastic surgery education at the national level.
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