If you’re considering plastic surgery, you know that it’s one of the most personal decisions you’ll ever make. In the same way as if you were researching for a doctor to perform surgery for a medical issue, when you start your search for a cosmetic surgeon, you want someone qualified with experience and education, someone who is respected in their field and who stays on top of all the latest advances and technology. The problem with the hunt for a reputable plastic surgeon is that, unlike, say, general practitioners or neurologists, there’s a whole separate business out there for scammers faking their way into your pocketbook with official-looking titles and store-bought certifications.
There are, literally, HUNDREDS of pseudo-boards in which “doctors” pay $500 and get a certificate proclaiming they are “board certified” in something that sounds official, like “Board Certified in Cosmetic Surgery” by the equally official-sounding “American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.” Many people don’t understand that this is a fake, subsequently placing their confidence in these non-doctors. Board certification is meant to protect the public, to guarantee at least a minimum of standardized training and testing of proficiency; unfortunately, a lot of unscrupulous people use these fake boards as a sign of legitimacy, deceiving their potential patients.
What’s even worse, patients who buy into these scams don’t just face losing their money. Procedures dealing with the body, such as breast augmentations or reductions and tummy tucks (abdominoplasty), are time-intensive operations that can affect major muscles and organs, while facial cosmetic procedures require delicate incisions and precise skill. The Internet is crawling with horror stories of patients who have been lured in by authentic looking diplomas and certificates, only to be left with scars and disfigurements, infections due to improper follow-up care, and even death. While every surgical procedure carries with it some kind of risk, those numbers shoot up exponentially when procedures are undertaken by greedy and unqualified faux physicians out for a quick buck. So how do you ensure that you choose a plastic surgeon with the necessary experience and skills?
Choosing a Surgeon You Can Trust
The best thing to do is to check the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Web site. They have 24 specific member boards that certify physicians in 88 different medical specialties. Make sure that whomever you select is certified in the specialty you require him or her to be certified—just because an ad says “board certified” does NOT mean the certification covers your needs as a patient. You want a doctor who has been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery—surgeons receiving this type of certification have undergone extensive schooling and training, and must also adhere to regulations regarding recertification that keep them abreast of all the latest medical advancements in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
Bottom line, no matter what you’re cosmetic surgery needs are, don’t be fooled by the charlatans and gimmicks littering your email and phonebook. Do your homework, be sure you fully understand everything about your proposed surgery, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions! This is your health, and you don’t want your body winding up in the wrong hands.