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How to Find a Reputable and Qualified Cosmetic (Plastic) Surgeon

Updated on October 13, 2014

Many men and women are not satisfied with their physical appearance. Diet and exercise are certainly useful tools in the battle of the bulge. At the same time, some people don’t want to put forth the time and effort that it takes to achieve a sexy, svelte, physique through dietary changes and exercise. Others want to change aspects of their appearance that can‘t be easily changed without a surgery, such as signs of aging, or lips that are “too big” or “too small”. Still others may want to remove excess, sagging skin, and stretch marks after an extreme weight loss or pregnancy. These are small miracles, made possible by talented cosmetic surgeons every day. It’s not my place to judge what another person’s choices are regarding cosmetic surgery. The aim of this hub is to focus on ways to find a qualified cosmetic surgeon.

Some things that you should consider when selecting a plastic surgeon:

Start close to home. Limiting your search to skimming through your phone directory and randomly calling up plastic surgeons is not a very good approach. If you know or know of someone who has had plastic surgery, seek some advice or opinions from that person. He or she can share some valuable insight into how to prepare for, recuperate from, and what to expect out of your cosmetic surgery experience. Also, ask your primary care physician whether you are a good candidate for cosmetic surgery, and if so, who your primary care physician would recommend.

Find out about the cosmetic surgeon’s credentials and years of experience. Make sure that your surgeon is licensed in your state to practice medicine. If you are willing to travel out of state for the cosmetic surgery, investigate whether the surgeon is licensed in his or her state of medical practice. Inquire as to whether the surgeon is board certified by the American Society of Plastic Surgery and/or The American Board of Plastic Surgery, Inc. In order to get board certification, medical doctors have to pass a national exam, which is more rigorous than a state exam and may cover a specific area of medical practice. Board certification may or may not be a requirement in your state for the surgeon to practice cosmetic surgery, but it is most likely a plus. The best way to find this information is to check with the state department of health or the state agency that deals with licensing of medical personnel. The state agency will be able to explain what the exact licensing requirements are in your state. You can also check the status of medical licenses at The Federation of State Medical Boards. Ethics and professionalism is very important in any work field, but even more so when it comes to human lives and well being.

Interview several prospects for cosmetic surgeons. You should feel completely open and comfortable discussing your needs and concerns with your surgeon. The doctor should be willing to answer all of your questions and address your concerns, with empathy and confidence. If your gut tells you that something is not right about the surgeon, or you feel that a prospective surgeon doesn’t understand your needs, perhaps you should pass on this surgeon. Also, I would be very wary of any doctor that requires you to sign a document prohibiting patients from talking about or critiquing him or her publicly. As long as you are completely honest in your opinions about how you were treated, you have the right to express your views about medical care and treatment.

Check the references of the surgeon. You can request professional references directly from past and current patients of your cosmetic surgeon. It can be either reassuring or eye opening to find out what patients really think about the surgeon, the facility, and the staff. Also, you can do a Google search of the cosmetic surgeon and the surgery facility, and see what turns up. There is no end to the rants and praises prevalent on discussion boards related to doctor’s care and treatment. You can sense that people on the internet are usually very honest in their perceptions about doctors. If the doctor did a botched job, if the facility wasn’t clean and sanitary, or if the staff is unfriendly at a particular office, people will rant about their experience. That’s part of the beauty of the internet.

Check the references and reputation of the facility that your cosmetic surgeon is operating out of. You can easily find out whether the facility has a poor reputation in the community or is not properly licensed. Go to your state department of health’s website to do a search to make sure that the facility’s license is up to date and in good standing. Quite often information is also available on whether any complaints have been filed against doctors working at the surgical facility or the hospital.

A good web link to peruse, which will assist you in your search for a cosmetic surgeon and good hospital or other facility to get your procedure done is Hospital Compare. It is part of www.hhs.gov and was created through a collaboration of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), along with the Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA). The website also provides information on the types of surgical procedures that are done at respective hospitals, the ratings of hospitals based on objective data and patient surveys of hospitals. The Hospital Compare link is not specific to cosmetic surgery, but still helpful.

Other helpful websites are:

Medicare.gov

The Joint Commission

The Department of Health and Human Services

The American Board of Medical Specialties


© Copyright 2011-2014 Susan Broadbelt

It's not nice to copy!
It's not nice to copy!

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