How to Protect Yourself when Choosing a Plastic Surgeon

Recently, several alarming articles have arrived in my newsfeed that make me worry about the safety of prospective cosmetic surgery patients. In one article, a surgeon in Florida lost his license for causing organ damage and death after liposuction and butt lift procedures. In another article, a doctor was sued for posting videos of her dancing around the operating room while her patient was asleep for surgery. It is obvious that patients’ safety and privacy were disregarded by these doctors – what is less obvious is that these doctors were NOT Board Certified Plastic Surgeons.

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/health-care/article145315639.html

https://www.cnn.com/videos/health/2018/05/25/dancing-doctor-pkg-hartung.hln

When researching a plastic surgeon, it is increasingly difficult to detect impostors based on information posted on the internet. Physicians, or even non-doctor medical providers like nurses or medical assistants, will call themselves “cosmetic” doctors or surgeons after attending a weekend course on Botox or liposuction, for example. But even these common procedures can turn destructive or deadly when performed by untrained hands.

To protect yourself, here are some pointers:

  • Make sure your plastic surgeon is Board Certified in PLASTIC SURGERY, not COSMETIC SURGERY

These two things may sound the same to you, but there is no official board of cosmetic surgery. A doctor (dermatologist, OB-GYN, family doc, etc) can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon without having any special training. If a doctor’s website uses the term “cosmetic” without listing Board Certified in Plastic Surgery, think: RED FLAG!

  • Did your surgeon do a plastic surgery residency?

If your surgeon did a residency in dermatology, OB-GYN, internal medicine, or another medical specialty, think: RED FLAG! If this isn’t clear from the website, ASK THE DOCTOR. The only way to become Board Certified in Plastic Surgery is to do a plastic surgery residency.

  • A one-year “Cosmetic Fellowship” does not make a doctor Board Certified in Plastic Surgery

Some doctors want to take the short route and do a one-year “cosmetic fellowship” to learn how to do aesthetic procedures. These are not accredited fellowships and are not acknowledged by the Board of Plastic Surgery. If a doctor did a “Cosmetic Fellowship” without doing a plastic surgery residency, think: RED FLAG!

  • Look for the LOGO

Only Board Certified Plastic Surgeons are allowed to be members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and to use their logo.

The Society website has useful tools to help you find a qualified plastic surgeon in your area:

https://www.plasticsurgery.org/patient-safety