Ten Great Ways to Find a Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon

Getting Started - How to find the plastic surgeon who is right for you.

Top Ten Ways To Find A Qualified Plastic Surgeon:

The following information was sent to us from one of our South Florida visitors. It was culled from a series on plastic surgery that appeared in the Sun-Sentinel in 1998.

There is no foolproof way to choose a plastic surgeon or to guarantee your results. However, an article in Florida's Sun-Sentinel listed the following as the "top ten" items in their series on plastic surgery. Since the article appeared in a Florida paper, many of the links are to state agencies in Florida.  The basic principles, however, still apply regardless of the state in which you live.  (We have included links for many other states later in this section, so don't fret over the fact that this page is "Florida-centric".)

  1. Check with the appropriate medical board in your state to see whether the surgeon is licensed and whether disciplinary action has been taken against him.   Many states medical licensing authorities have listings at: http://www.docboard.org/.    (We provide you with the others we have found later in this section.)

  2. Check medical malpractice suits filed with the clerk of the county or circuit court in your area. This may require a visit to the courthouse to review files. Malpractice suits don't necessarily mean a doctor has problems, but according to the Sun Sentinel, state officials in Florida consider three medical malpractice judgments against a doctor within five years to be a warning sign.  (Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration has a list of these doctors on its Internet site. Also, the Florida Department of Insurance lists closed medical malpractice claims against doctors on its Internet site at www.doi.state.fl.us.   Some, but not  all other states have similar information on the web.)

  3. Verify credentials and training. Many cosmetic surgeons advertise they are "board-certified."  But requirements vary greatly depending on which professional board is cited.  Florida recognizes only two plastic surgery boards: the American Board of Plastic Surgery, based in Philadelphia; and the American Board of Facial and Reconstructive Surgery, in Alexandria, Va.  Your state may be different.  Make sure your doctor is certified and experienced in the type of procedure you are considering.

  4. Ask the surgeon how often he or she performs the procedure you want and what the complication rates are.

  5. Ask surgeons whether they have hospital admitting privileges in case of complications after surgery. Call the hospital to verify the information.

  6. Ask for references from trusted family physicians or other doctors knowledgeable about the local medical community. Also, get a checkup from your family doctor to see if you have any health problems that might make cosmetic surgery risky.

  7. Ask whether the surgeon carries medical malpractice insurance, and if not, why not? In Florida, malpractice insurance coverage can be verified by calling the Agency for Health Care Administration toll-free at 888-419-3456.  In other states, check with the licensing board.

  8. Don't feel pressured to agree to more procedures than you want, regardless of the price.

  9. Ask if the person giving the anesthesia is properly certified. He or she  should either be a certified registered nurse anesthetist or an physician anesthesiologist.

  10. Read the patient consent form carefully before signing it. Ask what steps the surgeon will take if complications occur or further surgery is needed and what type of follow-up care will be given. Be thorough when discussing your expectations with your doctor.   Proper communication before surgery tends to result in greater satisfaction.


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