• Jay M. Pensler, M.D.
  • Chicago Plastic Surgeon
  • 680 North Lake Shore Drive
  • Suite 1125
  • Chicago, IL 60611
  • 312.642.7777
  • info@plasticsurg.org
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What does it mean to be a “Board Certified” plastic surgeon?

When considering a plastic surgery procedure, patients are almost always aware that they should seek out a “Board certified” plastic surgeon. This is common knowledge, and the term is often thrown around carelessly. Many people do not truly know what it means to be board certified, or how to verify that their chosen physician holds this distinction. When considering to undergo a plastic surgery procedure, it is important that a prospective patient makes an informed decision based on accurate information.

An American board certified plastic surgeon holds a certification with the American Board of Plastic Surgery, or ABPS. In order to qualify for certification, a physician must graduate from an accredited medical school, complete a residency of at least five years at a qualifying hospital, have at least three years of general surgery experience, actively practice plastic surgery for at least two years to refine skills, and finally pass a difficult comprehensive written and oral examination. After completing this process, which takes more than a decade, a physician can proudly proclaim their status as a board certified plastic surgeon and fully accredited diplomat of the ABPS.

Becoming board certified is a long and grueling process, requiring years and years of dedicated study. The experience gained during this process is invaluable, and helps to assure that the physician in question is thoroughly trained in the latest improvements in plastic surgery procedures. ABPS diplomats have a high level of experience with a wide range of plastic surgery procedures, including (but not limited to) treatment of congenital defects of the face and body, cosmetic or aesthetic surgery of the face and body, reconstruction by grafts or tissue transfer, burn management and repair, surgery to treat skin growths or growths in the soft tissues, and microsurgical techniques, among others. These highly trained physicians have not only undergone years of rigorous study to attain the highest levels of proficiency at providing comprehensive patient care, but they have also proven their competency to a board of experts in the field. Basically a ABPS certification helps a prospective patient ascertain that the physician possesses the skill level required to competently perform plastic surgery.

You should also know that for plastic surgery in the United states, the term “board certified” refers only to the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In Canada, the equivalent is the Royal College of Physicians and surgeons of Canada, or the RCPSC. Some doctors in the United states may hold a certification with another organization that might even have “plastic surgery” or “cosmetic surgery” in the title, but unless they have a certification with the ABPS, they are not board certified plastic surgeons. Some physicians who hold a board certification in other medical specialties such as dermatology may perform plastic or cosmetic surgery. Some of these physicians, because of the close relation between fields, may even have experience and competence in performing these procedures, but it is generally the best idea to choose a physician who is trained in all aspects of plastic surgery, rather than a physician who has expanded their specialty to include a few surgical procedures.

When choosing the right doctor for you, it is important to find out as much as possible about his or her qualifications and how they relate to the specific procedure you would like to have performed. For instance, knowing which specialty (or specialties) they are certified in, what training he or she has had in performing your type of procedure, how long he or she has been performing that procedure, and viewing before and after pictures of their specific patients who have had the same procedure are all important aspects of choosing the correct plastic surgeon for you. It is also important to make sure your chosen physician has hospital privileges, even if you choose to have your procedure performed in the privacy of an out-patient surgical suite in his or her office.

In the case of Dr. Jay Pensler, he is fully certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He graduated from the Medical School at the University of Chicago and then went on to a general surgery residency at New York University and plastic surgery at the University of Texas. He holds a Craniofacial Surgery degree from Harvard university. He has hospital privileges at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Chicago and Children’s Memorial Hospital, also in Chicago. His academic appointments include Associate Professor of Clinical Plastic Surgery at Northwestern University Medical School. He has written over a hundred articles and publications on the topic of Rhinoplasty and Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, and has received numerous accreditations from his peers. His surgical suite is fully equipped and staffed by fully trained, specially chosen medical personnel who have outstanding abilities working with and understanding plastic surgery patients and accommodating their specific needs. Dr. Pensler has almost two decades of experience in the plastic surgery field. To view before and after pictures of Dr Pensler’s work, visit the BEFORE AND AFTER section of his website.

If you have questions, or would like to setup a no-obligation consultation with Dr. Pensler please fill out the short contact form so one of our patient coordinators can follow up with you. You can also call out office directly at 312-642-7777.