Who Should Perform Cosmetic Plastic Surgery?
There is a nationwide push by general practitioners, doctors who need only one year of training after medical school, to perform cosmetic procedures. Plastic surgeons who specialize in cosmetic surgery and have trained for eight years after medical school are opposing this blatant attempt by under-trained and non-certified physicians to perform these types of procedures. The public is largely unaware of the raging battle, and patients may find out too late that the “doctor” who operated on them had no clue what he or she was doing.There are only about 6,000 board-certified plastic surgeons in the US among the 450,000+ total doctors. Of the plastic surgeons, only half are members of the American Society for Aesthetic Surgery who mainly perform cosmetic surgeries as opposed to breast reconstructions, cranio-facial surgeries or hand and trauma surgeries. Some, like myself, limit ourselves exclusively to aesthetics. Yet there are 50,000 cosmetic surgeons in the US. So what is going on?In these hard economic times, doctors needing extra income but who are not trained in plastic surgery have been taking weekend courses and setting themselves up as cosmetic surgeons, performing surgeries in their offices or facilities outside of the normal quality controls and self-policing realm of modern medicine.

State and federal licensing authorities give every doctor a license to practice medicine and surgery irrespective of the need for training. Sad but true! As far as the state cares, if you train for one year after medical school and pass the medical board exam, you can perform brain surgery or call yourself a cosmetic surgeon. You might even have done training in cardiology for five years and become “board-certified” in cardiology, but the state does not care, and you can perform cosmetic surgery and say you are “board-certified” while omitting specifying what you’re board-certified in!
Cosmetic plastic surgery should be performed only by surgeons who have been vetted via a hospital application process and have permission (privileges) to perform those procedures in a hospital. This is the only way to protect the public from untrained and unscrupulous doctors.Physicians who are not properly trained in surgery and who attempt to perform surgery anyway can have devastating results. Would you have surgery done by someone who took a weekend course in laser liposuction (a bogus marketing procedure to start with), or would you go to a plastic surgeon who trained in surgery for 6 to 8 years?Caveat emptor (buyer beware) is never more true than when dealing with cosmetic surgery. Interview a number of surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) who are members of the elite American Society for Aesthetic Surgery (ASAPS) and hope you get a a well-trained plastic surgeon who is also an artist. Remember: you cannot return a surgery—the scars are for life.

Washington DC, Northern Virginia, Maryland


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