Poorly-trained practitioners and ill-equipped facilities have no place in cosmetic surgery

September 29, 2011

Make sure your doctor is board-certified in plastic surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Make sure your doctor is board-certified in plastic surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

In the September 13, 2011 issue of USA Today there’s a comprehensive article about practitioners who misrepresent themselves as plastic surgeons, including an oral surgeon and an OB/GYN, and the dangers of undergoing surgery in ill-equipped facilities. Tragically, three women in Florida recently lost their lives at the hands of ill-trained practitioners from a lidocaine (painkiller) overdose administered during liposuction. At least one of the women believed that liposuction was weight loss surgery, which it is not, and all three women, acting in good faith, were lured by bargain basement prices.

The article implies that increased state oversight of negligent doctors would improve patient safety. Now, with the passage of the Donde West law, California requires patients to get a physical exam and written clearance from a doctor before undergoing cosmetic surgery. In Florida, state Senator Eleanor Sobel plans to reintroduce a bill to regulate med-spas as medical clinics, which would subject them to inspection.

Until state bodies have fully regulated who practices plastic surgery, and in what facilities, you can achieve your beauty goals as long as you do your homework. Make sure your doctor is board-certified in plastic surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the only certification Board in plastic surgery recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

No matter where your surgery is performed, your surgeon should have operating privileges in an accredited hospital to perform the surgery that you will undergo. Make sure your doctor is licensed and has no in-state disciplinary actions. Order a full physician profile and disciplinary history report. If your surgery is not scheduled for a hospital, make sure it occurs in an AAAASF facility to guarantee your safety; this means the facility has been given the AOK by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery.

Cosmetic surgery can safely be performed in a hospital, a surgicenter or an office-based surgical facility as long as that facility is accredited. Your surgical experience must include follow-up visits to make sure there are no complications and that you’re happy with results. Ask your doctor about his policy for doing revisions. Get all the facts before the surgery, not after.  


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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