Cosmetic Surgery Checklist: Buyer Beware
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
Over 10.2 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were performed in the
U.S. in 2005, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. If you're
considering a cosmetic procedure, the following questions can help you choose
the right doctor.
- What is the doctor's training and certification? Any
practicing physician may call him- or herself a cosmetic surgeon or may
advertise that he or she performs cosmetic procedures. Only physicians who are
certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery have received years of specialized training in plastic
surgery (both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery) and have passed rigorous
examinations to demonstrate their competence in the field. The American Society
of Plastic Surgeons Web site has a feature to help you locate plastic surgeons
who are board certified in the field.
- What is the doctor's experience with the particular
procedure you are considering? Ask how many times he or she has performed the
procedure and if he or she has received specialized training in the particular
area. How long has the physician been performing the particular operation?
Remember that not all surgeons will be experts in every area. A doctor who is
an expert in breast augmentation surgeries may have little experience with
- At which hospital does the doctor perform the
procedure? Are you comfortable with being treated in this hospital? Is the
- Does the doctor ask you about your reasons for having
the procedure, and are you comfortable talking openly with this doctor? A good
cosmetic surgeon will explain all alternatives to the procedure and will not
pressure you into making a rapid decision.
- Does the doctor answer all your
questions clearly and fully? Your doctor should be frank about issues such as
recovery time, potential side effects, risks, and realistic expectations for the
outcome of the procedure. While "before and after" photos make a convincing
statement, be sure to ask if the photos represent typical results.
- Are you a
good candidate for the procedure you're considering? What will be expected of
you following the procedure? Your doctor should openly discuss with you any
issues that may affect your personal outcome.
- Can you talk to other patients who have had the same
procedure performed by this surgeon? Friends can be a good referral source if they have had a similar procedure themselves.
- What does the procedure cost? Is payment expected
up-front? Most cosmetic procedures are considered elective and are not covered
by health insurance plans.
For additional information, please read the Plastic Surgery (Cosmetic
Last Editorial Review: 5/2/2006