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How to Verify Your Plastic Surgeon’s Background and Credentials?

By February 4, 2022May 17th, 2022Face

License, Malpractice, and Personality

R esearching your surgeon’s background and credentials will help you to make sure that he/she is the right person to take good care of you before, during, and after the procedure. It is one of the essential steps in choosing the best surgeon for you!

Choosing the right surgeon for your cosmetic or plastic surgery is different from other situations when you need to verify your doctor’s credentials. You have plenty of time and many methods to research your potential surgeon’s credentials. Besides, plastic and cosmetic surgery results are permanent. Therefore, you must make sure that you are in safe hands.

At Qoves, we do not only offer a professional, tailored assessment of your face but also how to take the next steps by pointing you in the right direction. In this article, we will show you how to verify your surgeon’s background and credentials simply and effectively.

Figure 1 – Before and after ptosis/blepharoplasty from Rebowe RE, Runyan C. Blepharoplasty

How to Start Verifying Your Surgeon’s Background and Credentials?  

Most people wonder where to start when it comes to checking a surgeon’s credentials. It is simple, start with the name and location. Of course, the search methods will be different depending on where you live. For example, if you live in the United States, you can start by visiting the Federation of State Medical Boards (FDMB) website. The website has a search function where you can check the basic information about your surgeons such as licenses, actions against the surgeon, education, and board certifications.

License

Each country or state provides plastic surgeons with licenses to be able to practice medicine. For example, if you live in the United States, cosmetic surgeons cannot practice medicine without state licenses. Therefore, to verify your plastic surgeon’s background and credentials, start by researching him/her with the state where he/she has a license to operate on people.

An unlicensed surgeon can leave you with horrible postoperative results. Aesthetic surgery is an industry. Like any industry, many unlicensed aesthetic surgeons exist. (1)

Board Certification

Understanding what board certification means is crucial in verifying a plastic surgeon’s background and credentials. Surgeons may claim that they are board-certified in various medical specialties including cosmetic surgery.

In the United States, it is essential to know the difference between being board-certified by a State and board-certified by a specialty board. All physicians, including surgeons, must be state board-certified to be able to practice medicine in the first place. If the surgeon is board-certified by a specialty board, he/she must meet other requirements.

The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is the only American board that can board-certify surgeons in the specialty of plastic surgery.

The ABPS has certain requirements that must be met including:

  • Graduation from an accredited medical school
  • Five-year surgeon’s residency program covering all the surgery areas
  • Three-years plastic surgery training of the five-years residency, especially aesthetic plastic surgery
  • Passing oral and written exams

Some plastic surgeons are “double board-certified”. They usually have board certifications from the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery. Therefore, make sure to find out if your plastic surgeon is board certified by an ABMS board or not. (2, 3, 4, 5)

Additional Tip: Check If the Anesthesiologist is Board-Certified

Having a board-certified anesthesiologist in the operating room is important. He/she will make the whole surgical experience more comfortable and safer. It is critical to ask your potential surgeon if a board-certified anesthesiologist will be in the operating room or not.

Medical School and Residency

If your cosmetic surgeon is old and seems experienced enough, this might be less important. However, if he is young and just starting his plastic aesthetic surgery career, it is a crucial point. Find out the age of your plastic surgeon to be able to get some insight into the education credentials. (6)

In the United States, for example, the Federation of State Medical Boards website can provide you with the graduation date and medical school education of your potential cosmetic surgeon. In addition, other websites can provide you with information about training and residency programs in all surgery fields, especially plastic surgery.

Actions

Actions refer to disciplinary actions such as malpractice. Online research and state licensing boards can provide you with this kind of information. Getting aesthetic services from a surgeon accused of malpractice is a huge risk.

The earlier points are the most important in verifying a surgeon’s background and credentials.
Here are some other points that you should consider.

The Age of Your Potential Plastic Surgeon

Plastic and cosmetic surgeries require a long-term relationship with your plastic surgeon. The results of most cosmetic and plastic surgeries may need long-term aftercare under the supervision of your surgeon. You may even need other cosmetic surgeries in the future to maintain the results.

Therefore, you may need to set up an age range of your list of plastic surgeons. If your cosmetic surgeon is older, he/she may leave practice or retire, which will be quite frustrating when you need him/her again.

It is better to search for plastic surgeons who is close in age to you or even younger. That way, you will guarantee that he/she will be there for you during the rest of your lifetime.

Of course, some people prefer working with plastic surgeons who have been in practice for a long time since they usually have more experience. On the other hand, other people find that younger plastic surgeons may understand them better since they use modern techniques and have more up-to-date data in certain procedures. (7, 8)

How Long Has Your Potential Plastic Surgeon Been in Practice?

States’ medical licensing board websites in addition to online doctor listing websites can provide you with information about how long your potential surgeon has been in practice. In addition, some websites can even inform you if there has been an interruption in your potential cosmetic surgeon’s practice or not.

If you found an interruption in the plastic surgeon’s practice, it is important to find out why. It may be a simple reason like moving to a new place. But it also can be a serious reason like negligence before getting back into practice.

Anyway, you should dig the internet with the aesthetic surgeon’s name in your location and other possible locations to see how well his practice has been. This is crucial if you found that there has been an interruption in his career. (9, 10)

Figure 2 – Preoperative (Top) and Postoperative (Bottom) Photographs of a Patient and Detailed Perceived Personality Changes After Comprehensive Facial Cosmetic Surgery

Hospital Affiliations

Board-certified plastic surgeons can admit and treat patients at most hospitals. If you want to undergo the procedure at a certain hospital, see if your cosmetic surgeon has privileges to practice there.

Some websites can show you the hospital affiliations of your plastic surgeon. Notice that some hospitals do extensive, ongoing background and credentials check of their doctors including cosmetic surgeons. This can assure you that your plastic surgeon is top-notch. (11)

Figure 3 – Preoperative (Top) and Postoperative (Bottom) Photographs of a Patient and Detailed Lack of Perceived Personality Changes After Rhinoplasty

Complaints or Malpractice

During choosing the best plastic surgeon for your procedure, you should consider any complaints. For example, bad attitudes, an unclean working environment, and of course malpractice are all red flags.

Other people’s problems may be yours. Check what other people say about your potential aesthetic surgeon. Make your search as extensive as possible and check for pending suits or any malpractice actions.

Rating websites are also a great source of information. However, the ratings can be subjective and influenced by many factors. Just make sure that when you exclude a potential plastic surgeon from your shortlist, it is for a good reason. (12, 13)

Has Your Plastic Surgeon Been Involved in Medical Research?

Most patients usually ignore this point, but it is very important. If your potential cosmetic surgeon takes part in medical research, then their areas of research may be crucial for your condition.

Usually, plastic surgeons who work at academic or university medical centers participates in medical research. For many people, medical research is a good thing. It means that the plastic surgeon’s knowledge is up to date. He/she is learning more about surgical procedures, different cases, and new ways to diagnose and perform procedures. Of course, if the cosmetic surgeon’s research is about medical aesthetics, advanced aesthetics, or facial aesthetics, it is a major advantage.

On the other hand, many medical manufacturing companies hire plastic surgeons to be part of their medical research. Academic medical research is totally different from commercial medical research. There is a major conflict of interest between the two kinds.

If your potential cosmetic surgeon participates in commercial medical research, he/she may recommend a procedure or a treatment that is not necessarily the best for you. Also, he/she may deceive you into a clinical trial or a procedure that would be more beneficial for the cosmetic surgeon than you.

If your aesthetic surgeon participates in medical research, make sure it is academic and reputable. Use Words like “Publication” and “Research” while searching the doctor’s name. If a medical manufacturer sponsors the research, it is better to exclude this cosmetic surgeon from your shortlist.

Personality and Attitudes

You will have a long-term relationship with your plastic surgeon. Therefore, it is important to check his/her personality and attitudes. You may need to visit your cosmetic surgeon regularly for months or even years. So, you need to make sure that you will get along with each other. (14)
Cosmetic surgeons with difficult personalities will not be helpful to you as those with easy and pleasant attitudes. Also, choose a cosmetic surgeon who has the same belief system as you. Different belief systems, cultural and religious, may make it difficult to get the attention and level of care you want from your plastic surgeon. (15)

The best three ways to check the plastic surgeon’s personality and attitudes are:

Referrals

Discussing your potential cosmetic surgeon’s attitudes and personality with your friends and family members is highly recommended.
Cosmetic surgeons with nice personalities are not necessarily competent. On the other hand, competent plastic surgeons are not always nice. It is up to you. If it is hard to find a plastic aesthetic surgeon who is nice and competent, you need to decide what you are willing to compromise.

Social Media Platforms

Cosmetic surgeons use all social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Before meeting your potential plastic surgeon in person, check the social media platforms. You can determine many aspects of the surgeon’s personality and attitudes from social media. (16)

The Interview

It is the best way. You should be 100% comfortable during the interview process to trust the plastic surgeon. Of course, you need to be prepared and ask the right questions. For example, if you are going to have facial plastic surgery, Qoves facial aesthetics report can help you to ask the right questions.

After verifying each surgeon’s background and credentials, your shortlist will include the top cosmetic surgeons.

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