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Only Use A Board Certified Plastic Surgeon??


It seems that cosmetic surgery is one of the most popular topics to read about these days.  Pick up any magazine or paper and you will likely find an article on cosmetic facial surgery.  Same goes for TV and radio; cosmetic surgery is a popular topic.

We all know that there are a lot of different types of surgeons (and nonsurgeons) that perform cosmetic surgery.  We all know that some of these docs are really good and others may not be so good.  We also know that because of all of the many specialties that do cosmetic surgery that there is also a lot of competition among these groups.  Knowing all of the above, the question frequently arises on how to pick a competent surgeon.  Unfortunately, too often, you will read “only have cosmetic surgery from a board certified plastic surgeon”.  Let’s think about this for a minute.  It is like saying only buy a Lexus because it is the best car and all other cars are unsafe.  We know that there are many safe cars and if one company says that theirs is the best, it does not mean that all other car companies are no good.  With the transparency of this marketing hype it makes one wonder how the “only board certified plastic surgery thing” continue to be stated?  It is obvious that it is false marketing by the plastic surgery organization.  There is nothing wrong with them cheering for their team, but it is an opinion of their society, not a fact. I use the word false because there are not studies to support that ANY specialty of surgeon has better outcomes, happier patients, or fewer complications than another.  80% of cosmetic surgery is performed by non-plastic surgeons. Any organization or group can make statements to fool the public into thinking they are the best or the only choice.  This is exactly what organized plastic surgery has done.  I have many plastic surgery friends and colleagues and some of them received excellent training in cosmetic surgery and have great results.  Others plastic surgery friends, received very little cosmetic training as plastic surgery is not cosmetic surgery so they spent their training learning about burns, reconstruction and other important procedures, but not cosmetic surgery.  I have seen many outcomes from these people where the outcomes were not so great. It as a fallacy to think that plastic surgery is cosmetic surgery or that all plastic surgeons are good cosmetic surgeons.  Simply not true.  I have had numerous patients that came to my office because bought the hype of “only see a board certified plastic surgeon, and when they went there for treatment, it was done by a nurse!!  Not that there are not competent nurses, but doesn’t that contradict the mantra?

A recent in the Journal of Plastic and Reconsructive Surgery concluded that “Senior Residents (in Plastic Surery) felt deficient in facial cosmetic training” (see image below).  The article goes on to describe the average minimum cosmetic surgery case requiements for plastic surgery programs is 7 facelifts, 8 eyelid surgeries, six nose surgeires and 10 breast implants (see image below).  Obvisously, some residents get more training but the fact is that entering private practice with the experience of 7 facelifts or 8 eyelid surgeries does not make someone an expert or better than other specialties.  Again, just because someone is a plastic surgeon does no make them better than another specialty.


click on above to enlarge


click on above to enlarge

There are numerous specialties other than plastic surgery that perform safe and effective cosmetic surgery.  These include dermatologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, ENT’s, ophthalmologists as well as other specialties.  Given my personal training as an example, I have spent 10 years after college learning about the head and neck.  My expertise is in head and neck surgery and I understand the face and have had as much (if not more) experience in facial surgery as any specialty that exists.  I am also board certified in my specialty (oral and maxillofacial surgery) and limit my practice to cosmetic facial surgery.  Having said this, does it make more sense to have a facelift from a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon that only does faces or a board certified plastic surgeon that may do a handful of facelifts a year, but performs hundreds of body procedures?  I performed over 80 facelifts last year while the average plastic surgeon performs 26.

This blog entry is not meant to discredit plastic surgery as it is an impressive specialty with many talented surgeons and I am friends with many of them.  The only purpose of this discussion is to dispel the self-serving notion that patients should “only have plastic surgery from a board certified plastic surgeon” .  This in untrue, unfounded, is not proven and only serves to fool the public.  Who is a cosmetic surgeon?  A cosmetic surgeon is a surgeon that limits his or her practice to cosmetic surgery.  It does not signify a specific specialty. 

What is most important here is the success of any surgeon from any specialty.  That is measured very easily by looking for cosmetic surgeons with good outcomes, low complications, happy patients and a booming and successful practice.  Looking for the aforementioned traits is a much better indicator for a good doc than buying into specialty marketing propaganda.

To find out more about Dr. Niamtu and Cosmetic Facial Surgery in Richmond, Virginia visit


Joe Niamtu, III DMD

Cosmetic Facial Surgery

Richmond, Virginia


Office Address

Joe Niamtu III, DMD
11319 Polo Place
Midlothian, VA 23113

Office Hours

Monday - Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm

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