"Part-Time" Plastic Surgeons

Some doctors who perform cosmetic plastic surgery have specialties in other areas. For example, many dermatologists and eye doctors perform plastic surgery procedures.

The board certification requirements for these specialties are very similar to each other: graduate from an accredited medical school, complete a minimum of a three-year residency in the specialty, and pass a comprehensive examination, both oral and written.

Neither of these specialties has any surgical training requirement for their board certification, beyond the surgical training received in residency. However, this does not preclude dermatologists or ophthalmologists from being very effective plastic surgeons. Ophthalmologists who have training in the field of oculoplastics are typically very good surgeons for plastic surgery related to the eyelids, known as blepharoplasty, and other areas around the eyes.

For dermatologists you may be considering for plastic surgery, it is best to evaluate their experience in surgery. Some dermatologists have taken training in dermatologic surgery and are certified members of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery. Others have extensive training after residency, which qualifies them for plastic surgery procedures.

Important Points to Consider

Some physicians have responded to the popularity of plastic surgery and have decided to change their focus to cosmetic and plastic surgery. To become "trained" for plastic surgery, they have attended weekend courses on specific procedures. This training may be adequate for less invasive procedures, such as skin resurfacing or collagen injections, but for the procedures that require considerable surgical skill, these courses cannot replace years of training and experience. When evaluating and choosing your plastic surgeon, ask about the surgical training: Find out when and where it was accomplished.

Questions to ask include:

  • Do you have hospital privileges to perform this procedure? If so, at which hospitals?
  • Is the surgical facility accredited?
  • How many procedures of this type have you performed?