Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

In light of a number of recent events in the media highlighting plastic surgery being performed by non-plastic surgeons – I felt that this would be an interesting topic to discuss. When choosing your surgeon, it is important to understand who they are, what they are actually trained in and if they are board certified, an IN that specialty.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon Dr. Vince Marin Discusses Board Certification from Vincent Marin, MD on Vimeo.

Is your doctor board certified?
And in WHAT specialty?

  • Hopefully your doctor is not only board certified, but also certified in the procedure you are undertaking.
  • We routinely hear about OB/GYNs, general surgeons, internal medicine doctors, family practice doctors, radiologists and even dentists performing body surgery.  Just because they are a great doctor, doesn’t mean they will be great in another specialty – especially one they aren’t trained in.
  • There are a number of “boards” that have been created that are not even recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties – different specialties have created these cleverly named “organizations” (such as American Board of Cosmeic Surgery) to help confuse the issue to the public.  To learn more about this patients, can visit the website –
  • Board Certified Plastic Surgeons have
    • a minimum of six years of surgical training in plastic surgery,
    • all have completed oral and written examinations
    • continue to pursue 50 hours a year of continuing education, with an important emphasis on patient safety.
    • None operate in a facility unless it is accredited for the rare occasion when there is a problem.
  • The problem stems from the fact that only four states (California, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas) have laws on the books requiring that physicians take steps to disclose the specifics of their medical background. In all other states, no such regulations exist. That leaves a pediatrician or a gastroenterologist, for example, free to cross over into the role of plastic surgeon at will and without disclosure.
  • In MOST states – ANYONE with a medical license can perform cosmetic surgery – it is the responsibility of the patient to do their research before choosing a surgeon.
  • 40% of all liposuction procedures were performed by NON-plastic surgeons in 2010.
  • In July, an Arizona internist was convicted of second-degree murder and manslaughter after three patients died in his care, two after liposuction and the third after a botched fat-shaping procedure.
  • You can verify your doctor and degree of board certification at

How much training has your doctor had?

  • Typical plastic surgeon training ranges from 5-7 years dedicated to patient selection and the acute, subacute and out-patient management of plastic surgical patients.  Many non-plastic surgeons will learn techniques over a weekend course and then begin to try these out on their patients – often at a very reduced cost.

Does your surgeon have experience in the procedure you are considering?

Does your surgeon have experience in successfully dealing with complications from the procedure you are considering?

All procedures can have complications, and it is just as important to know that your doctor not only can do the procedure, but also deal with unexpected complications.  Although, a weekend course can help doctors understand what they need to do in “ideal” circumstances, they may not have the knowledge they need to handle more challenging circumstances.

Can you talk to former patients and see representative photographs?

Does your physician operate in a certified facility or hospital?

Does your surgeon have “staff” privileges at a local hospital in their specialty?

  • This signifies that they are licensed to perform medicine, and if there is an emergency, they can transfer you to more advanced care.

Who is performing your anesthesia?

Do you need to have overnight professional help? or stay in a hospital?

Will your doctor tell you no?

  • A surgeon knows how to operate, a good surgeon knows when to operate and a great surgeon knows when NOT to operate.




About the Author:

Dr. Vince Marin is a San Diego board-certified plastic surgeon specializes in cosmetic surgery of the face, nose, breast and body. If you wish to contact Dr. Marin, write to [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter!