How to Find/Choose the Best/Top Plastic Surgeon? Part 2: How does a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon become credentialed to perform Plastic Surgery - Imagine Plastic Surgery

How to Find/Choose the Best/Top Plastic Surgeon? Part 2: How does a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon become credentialed to perform Plastic Surgery


Posted by Dr. Hardesty

How to Find/Choose the Best/Top Plastic Surgeon?

I am often asked by friends, patients and those interested on how one becomes a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.  How to choose The Best/Top Plastic Surgeon and what questions to ask during a consultation. Thus, I have created a 3 part document addressing each of these areas.

How does a Plastic Surgeon become Credentialed to perform Plastic Surgery?

State Medical licensure (in most states) only requires I year of post  Medical Degree residency (internship) in a accredited Hospital by the ACGME.
The  state license allows the physician to practice medicine in that state as a “Physcian and Surgeon” the Licensed Physician can do anything he/she wants in their office or non accredited outpatient facility (see below)
This includes ANY type of surgery.

In contrast Hospitals set the highest standards of what  what type of procedures a Physician can perform. The usual and minimal criteria is Board Eligibility leading to Board Certification or demonstrated track record of success with that particular procedure.
Regular monitoring and renewal of staff privileges occur evert two years.
At minimum your Plastic Surgeon should have Hospital admitting privileges.

Out Patient Surgical Centers (OSC) or Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASC) can be accredited or non accredited. Most insurance companies and Medicare require  all OSC’s and ASC’s to be accredited. This accreditation process is extensive and insures that similar standards that are found in Hospitals are found and followed. Thus guaranteeing standardized patient safety criteria is met.

 The common agencies that accredit are:
1) The American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgical Facilities (AAAASF)


2) Accreditation  Association for Ambulatory  Health Services (AAAHC)


3) Centers for Medicare/Medicaide Services (CME)


4) Joint  Commission on Accrediation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)


In contrast when insurance is not involved (or using only local anesthesia) accreditation is often not required.
Thus a duly state licensed physician (one year of formal training) can perform ANY surgical procedure the patient allows him/her to do.

As Bd. Cert. Plastic Surgeons and members of the ASPS and ASAPS we are required to only operate in accredited facilities (other than local anesthesia). Thus assuring that surgical procedures are carried out in centers with the highest standards.

Each center establishes its own specific policies in addition to the  meeting the mandatory criteria needed by the specific accrediting body. Example:  the needed preoperative lab work is at the discretion of the outpatient surgical center.

Part 1 covered “Education, training, and how to become a Board Certififed Plastic Surgeon.”

Part 3 is “How to choose a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.”

The bottom line is:

  1. Do your research.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask any question.
  3. Be specific about your needs, wants and desires.

I hope you find this information helpful. If I can improve upon, bring greater clarity or make absolutely anything more understandable, please email me at

My best wishes and may you choose wisely.


Robert A. Hardesty M.D., F.A.C.S
Certified and Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery


1) 9 years of post graduate M.D. Degree residency/fellowship training

-General Surgery (obtained Bd. Cert) full residency
-Plastic Surgery (Bd. Certified) full residency
-Crainofacial Fellowship Training

2) As a Plastic Surgery Residency Training Program Director/ Division Chief (having help train over 30 Board Certified Plastic Surgeons/fellows).

3) 17 years in full time academic medicine at Loma Linda University resulting in attaining the rank of Professor.

4) 12+ years in private practice to the present (focusing on Aesthestic/Cosmetic Plastic Surgery)

5) Leadership positions:
a) Past  president of the Medical Staff at Loma Linda University. 



b) Positions within organized Plastic Surgery:
-Past President of the Ca. Soc. of Plastic Surgeons (CSPS)


-Past Bd. Member of the Am. Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)


-Officer (Historian) of the Am. Ass. of Plastic Surgeons (AAPS)


-Chairman of Plastic Surgery Research Council (PSRC)


6) -Clinician of the year 2003


-Physician of the year 2015


7) National (Peer voted/selected)  Awards and patient voted Awards:
-Top Doctors Award:  peer voted/selected (Castle/Connoly, Inc.)


-Best Doctors Award: peer voted/selected ( Best Doctors, Inc.)


-Top Doctors Rating Award: peer voted/selected (The Center for Study and Service)


-Compassionate Physician Award: patient voted/selected (Vitals Rating)


– Real Self Top 100 Award




Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (http://aaahc)
American Association of Plastic Surgeons
American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgical Facilities (http://aaaasf
American Association Medical Colleges(
American Board of Medical Specialists(
American Board of Plastic Surgery, Inc. (
American Council of Graduate Medical Education(
American Medical Association (
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (
American Society of Plastic Surgeons (
BBB Better Business Bureau (
Best Doctors, Inc (http//
California Department of Consumer Affairs (
Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (
Federation of State Medical Boards(
Top Doctors, Castle and Connolly (
Top Doctor Ratings:The Center for the study of Service (



The Staff of Imagine Plastic Surgery serving many of the communities of the greater Inland Empire including but limited to Riverside, CA and Inland Empire, Redlands, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Corona, Upland, and Chino Hills.

What is the cost?

At Imagine Plastic Surgery, we offer a variety a different procedures that all vary in prices. We strive in being transparent to all potential patients and being up front with how much our services may cost. For more information regarding the costs and prices, visit our plastic surgery prices page!


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