Finding the right surgeon for your face can be a daunting process. Word of mouth referrals and recommendations from happy patients, other physicians, hair stylists, aestheticians and other members of the beauty industry are often a great place to start. Understanding that the distinct specialty of Facial Plastic Surgery versus General Plastic Surgery arose out of a need for a specialist who is uniquely qualified in the nuances of facial esthetics and cranio-facial function can also narrow your decision making process.
A Facial Plastic Surgeon by definition must have a number of credentials and meet a laundry list of stringent criteria in order to become board certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS), the regulatory board which qualifies facial plastic surgeons. Diplomats of the ABPRS must meet these standards through a rigorous residency training program, examination and certification. The ABFPRS is equivalent to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) in all states that require such standard for qualification. What does it mean if my surgeon is certified by the ABFPRS? The ABFPRS credential signifies that a surgeon:
- Has completed an approved residency in one of the two surgical specialties that include identifiable training in all aspects of facial plastic surgery (otolaryngology/head-and-neck surgery or plastic surgery, generally)
- Is double boarded, having earned prior certification in one of those specialties through the American Board of Medical Specialties or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada
- Has successfully completed a two-day written and oral examination
- Has submitted for peer-review an acceptable record of at least two years’ clinical experience, including operative reports of a minimum 100 facial plastic surgeries
- Holds proper licensure and subscribes to the ABFPRS Code of Ethics.
Besides the ABFPRS certification, there are several other critical factors in making your selection of the right facial plastic surgeon for you. These include how often the surgeon performs these procedures, how many procedures the surgeon has performed, and if the surgeon has been in practice a minimum of two years. Within the field, there are also some surgeons who specialize in certain areas, for example, cosmetic versus reconstructive. Lastly, for your safety, you should find out if your surgeon is qualified and has privileges to perform these procedures in reputable, large hospitals and surgery centers in the area. You can contact the American Board of Facial Plastic Surgeons @ abfprs.org to find a qualified surgeon in your area and to learn more about the academy and its affiliations.
The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (AAFPRS) is the world’s largest specialty association and represents facial plastic surgeons nationally as well as internationally. The AAFPRS is a national society recognized by the AMA whose members are board certified surgeons focused on surgery of the head and neck and required to adhere to a strict code of medical ethics.
Trust Your face to a Facial Plastic Surgeon
The tag line of the AAFPRS but one that summarizes the best advice we can give patients. It just makes good common sense. Head and neck surgery is the most complex and demanding surgery there is, and, therefore perfecting this area requires rigorous, long years of training in this one area of the body as well as on-going practice experience. It seems only logical that the same surgeon who operates on the breast or abdomen (tummy) may not have the arduous, concentrated training or experience when it comes to the complexity of the face.