Serving Denver & Golden Colorado: (720) 279-1926

Choosing a Surgeon

When choosing a plastic surgeon in Denver, Colorado, to perform your breast augmentation, liposuction, or facelift, naturally you search for the best. If you're like most people, you talk to others who have had surgery, you research physicians on the Internet, and, when you're ready, you begin setting up consultationsconsultations with a chosen few.

Don't stop there. It's critical to give yourself the tools that will enable you to truly understand the background of a prospective surgeon. Why? Today, there's no requirement that cosmetic surgery be performed by a doctor who's actually trained in the discipline. In fact, cosmetic procedures of all kinds are offered by current and former dermatologists, gynecologists, and physicians trained in other fields.

If you're not careful, you could find yourself being operated on by someone who has had no formal education in plastic surgery and no requirement to prove their knowledge and skill in exams and peer reviews. But, with just a small investment of time to learn a few basics, you'll be in a great position to choose a surgeon who will deliver beautiful results and safeguard your health.

Which Board Certification Really Matters

As you research surgeons, many will say they're "board certified." Make sure the certification they're talking about is the one Dr. Wolfe, Dr. Vath, and Dr. Steinwald hold, from the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). This will tell you your physician has a four-year college degree, has a degree from an accredited medical school, has successfully completed a minimum of five years surgical internship and residency, has completed an accredited residency specifically in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, has practiced plastic surgery for at least two years, and has passed extensive oral and written exams and peer reviews.

The ABPS has implemented these requirements working with its umbrella organization, the The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), whose role is to oversee the specialty boards and assist them in developing and maintaining physician standards. The ABPS, one of an elite group of only 24 "member boards" of the ABMS, is the only ABMS organization that certifies physicians in plastic surgery from "head to toe."

Some surgeons will claim board certification from organizations that have not been approved for membership in the ABMS. A few of these include:

  • The American Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
  • The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery
  • The American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • The American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery

What Other Acronyms Tell You

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons® (ASPS), the largest international organization focused on plastic surgery, is a prestigious group to which Dr. Wolfe, Dr. Vath, and Dr. Steinwald belong. The ASPS accepts only ABPS certified physicians as members. Candidates must get local sponsorship by other ASPS surgeons and prove they meet strict ethical standards in patient care and practice promotion. Then they must attend meetings regularly and take continuing education courses to remain in good standing.

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) is an organization of board-certified plastic surgeons specializing in cosmetic plastic surgery, and Dr. Wolfe, Dr. Vath, and Dr. Steinwald are members. With over 2,500 members in the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world, ASAPS is the leading professional organization of plastic surgeons specializing in cosmetic surgery. This society is dedicated to advancing the science, art, and safe practice of aesthetic plastic surgery.The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy.

Dr. Vath and Dr. Steinwald are also certified by the American Board of Surgeons (ABS), another member organization of the ABMS. Members (or "diplomates") pass the same kind of rigorous requirements as those of the ABPS, in this case focused on general surgery.

There are many other organizations to which Denver cosmetic surgeons may belong. They offer the chance to network with peers, some provide opportunities for further training, and some do require certification of some kind. On the other hand, some require only a membership fee.

The only way to make sure your surgeon has undergone the most rigorous certification process in the field is to make sure they are certified by the ABPS.

Cosmetic Surgeon or Plastic Surgeon

The word "plastic" in plastic surgery doesn't refer to the versatile material you may be thinking of. It derives from a Greek word, plastikos, meaning "to mold." The discipline has been around even longer than ancient Greek civilization as the way to rebuild and improve the form and function of the body.

The field advanced through the ages and took significant leaps forward during the two world wars of the 20th century. Professional and academic societies were established and the field of study began to be formalized. The American Board of Plastic Surgery was formed in 1937, creating the standard for plastic surgeons that continues today.

The labels "cosmetic surgeon" and "plastic surgeon" are not interchangeable. A cosmetic surgeon is a doctor, any doctor, who performs procedures to enhance a patient's looks. A plastic surgeon (those who have completed a residency) is educated and trained specifically in plastic surgery. A plastic surgeon may do mostly or exclusively cosmetic surgery, and may even call himself or herself a cosmetic surgeon. But those who perform cosmetic surgery without the rigorous regimen required by the ABPS should not call themselves plastic surgeons.

How do you know what qualifications your prospective surgeon has? How can you find out if they're certified by the ABPS? Ask. Don't feel hesitant. Your looks and your health depend on it.

Back to Top