Photo courtesy of Joseph Capella, M.D.
Choosing the Right Surgeon for Body Contouring After Weight Loss: Physician Certifications and Affiliations
My Bariatric Life: Why is it important that the surgeon have board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery? Are other board certifications equally as important? What about memberships in professional societies?
Dr. Capella: Board certification or diplomat means that you’ve gone through a very rigorous training program and that you’ve been accredited by this board that has very specific criteria that needs to be met to receive a diploma. In addition to that, graduates after the year 1995 have to receive re-accreditation every 10 years. And, in addition to that, you have to receive 150 CME [continuing medical education] credits every three years.
In other words, there’s an on-going maintenance of accreditation that needs to take place, too. So you know that your doctor is up-to-date on the current knowledgebase in the field. So, I think it’s very important that they be board certified in plastic surgery.
MBL: Are distinctions such as being a chief of plastic surgery an indicator that the surgeon is more highly qualified than other plastic surgeons?
Dr. Capella: I think qualified depends on what you’re doing. In other words, there are chiefs of plastic surgery that are not experienced in post-bariatric body contouring. They may be experts in reconstructive surgery. It means that they are well-regarded, probably, by their peers in that institution, but it may not be that they’re qualified to do your surgery.
MBL: Are admitting privileges, education, training, and other distinctions important?
Dr. Capella: I would very much recommend that you go to a doctor that has admitting privileges because hospitals in their own way really make sure that doctors have it all together. They want to make sure that you’ve got all your certifications up-to-date, your malpractice insurance up-to-date — and they’re not going to allow for a doctor who has some on-going problem to keep admitting patients. In effect, it’s almost like a club.
So, I would very much seek doctors who have admitting privileges at hospitals — of course, especially, if there is a complication the doctor has to admit the patient.
I happen to do all my work at a hospital. Hospitals have their own criteria for maintenance, too, that I think is very important. So, for example, they’ll not let me even do microsurgery or cleft-lip and palette surgery because they know I’m not qualified. The Chairman of Plastic Surgery has to approve me to do it, and I would never even ask for it. So you know that if your doctor is performing a certain procedure, he or she has maintained certain excellence in that procedure, too.