Some recent articles – including one in a prominent national newspaper – have made the point that patients should beware of surgeons operating outside their training – particularly in the field of plastic surgery. All patients and all thinking surgeons should, of course, agree that doctors should not venture outside their training and certification.
The article in that newspaper – and particularly the headline – went further, though, to suggest that otolaryngologists/head-and-neck surgeons should not be performing face lifts or facial plastic surgery. The article suggested that only surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery should be doing that surgery. In truth, two certifying boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties examine in facial plastic surgery: the American Board of Otolaryngology and the American Board of Plastic Surgery. One of us has the former certification, and the other has the latter. Those specialties have, from time to time, fought a “turf battle.” Our societies have been on opposite sides of that turf battle. We are concerned, however, that patient safety can suffer if patients receive misinformation about the choices available to them of qualified surgeons. Accordingly, as presidents of our specialty societies, we have put aside (we hope not impermanently) the turf battle to advance patient safety. We offer two observations that we hope will assist patients in selecting a surgeon.
First, surgeons should not venture outside their fields. Gynecologists should not be performing facial plastic surgery, and otolaryngologists should not be performing abdominal surgery.
Second, in the field of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, both the American Board of Otolaryngology and the American Board of Plastic Surgery examine and provide certification. The American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery provides further certification limited to facial plastic surgery of the head and neck.
Patient safety requires accurate information. We hope this clarification helps patients in making their choices.
About the authors
Jeffrey M. Kenkel, MD, is President of American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Tom D. Wang, MD, is President of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS).
[Source: ASAPS/AAFPRS joint statement]