Any licensed medical doctor can legally perform cosmetic surgery, but the levels of training and experience in cosmetic surgery vary widely. For your own safety, avoid doctors who are not board-certified, and look for a cosmetic surgeon with a lot of experience. Doctors who most commonly do cosmetic surgery and procedures include:
- Plastic and reconstructive surgeons. These doctors are board-certified specialists in cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery and have multiple years of training in these fields. All members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons are board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
- Otolaryngologists, also called ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists. Many of these doctors have additional training in cosmetic surgery of the head and neck and may belong to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
You may also check the credentials of any outpatient surgery center that you are considering, to make sure it is safe and reliable. Look for clinics that have a well-established track record for good results and high-quality service, and avoid those that do not. The facility should be licensed by the state in which it is located and accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting organization. To check a facility's accreditation status, contact the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Plastic Surgery Facilities (www.aaaasf.org), the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (www.aaahc.org), or the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (www.jointcommission.org).
Other sources of helpful information include consumer health groups, people who have had cosmetic surgery, other doctors, books and articles, and the Internet. But do not put too much trust in before-and-after photos you may find on the Internet. Some may have been altered by computer or are likely to represent an extremely positive result, not necessarily a typical result. In either case, before-and-after photos on the Internet may give you a false impression of the results you can expect.
Cosmetic surgery is not an emergency procedure, so there is no reason to rush into it. Do not be pressured into making a quick decision. Get as much information as you need to feel comfortable about your decision. Don't be afraid to get a second and even a third opinion, especially if you are not completely comfortable with your first doctor visit.