Know your Doctor

Many physicians have jumped onto the cosmetic surgery bandwagon with both feet. A bill is working its way through the California state legislature that would allow dentists (oral surgeons) to perform cosmetic surgery. As one ponders the plethora of physician advertisements for Botox, injectables such as collagen, and surgery, a few ground rules are necessary for potential patients.
It is important to ask qualifications of your provider. Board certification is a minimal standard that is readily identifiable and can be accessed on the internet. For those contemplating surgery, there are two equivalent boards in the State of California. The American Board of Plastic Surgery, and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Both have a registry of board certified physicians in your geographic area.
Two additional physician groups now perform “cosmetic procedures.” They are dermatologists and oculoplastic surgeons who are eye surgeons and have completed additional training in cosmetic and reconstructive eye surgery. These groups can be accessed on the internet as well.
Don’t be shy to ask your potential physician how many procedures they have performed. Ask if you can speak to similar patients. Meet with the physician and their staff. All of these are basic criteria for selecting a doctor.
If you are unsure about a certain doctor, ask what hospital medical staffs the physician belongs to, and additionally, ask if he or she has privileges to do the proposed procedure in the hospital. This is a good screening mechanism by which the hospital has an obligation to ensure the public safety by not allowing physicians to do procedures that they are not adequately trained to do. If he or she does not have that privilege in a hospital, he or she should not be doing that procedure in a surgical center.
If contemplating surgery, ask about the anesthesia. Is the anesthesiologist qualified? Board certified? Are they utilizing a nurse anesthetist or a physician anesthesiologist? Again, the same rules apply.
Also inquire about the length of the procedure. Long anesthetic procedures are readily and safely performed routinely in outpatient surgical centers; however, if you have underlying medical problems such as hypertension, heart disease, or pulmonary problems, you may want to have your physician or surgeon consider doing that procedure in the hospital. Remember to check the surgical center to ensure that it is accredited by either Medicare or an equivalent organization such as the Association of Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Centers.
All of these basic guidelines apply to any surgical procedure, not only elective cosmetic procedures. I welcome you comments, thoughts and suggestions. I can be reached at


Chief of Surgery,
Northridge Hospital Medical Center
Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery
UCLA School of Medicine

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