The right surgeon


If you’re considering any type of cosmetic procedure, consumer watchdogs and medical organizations recommend you check up on your doctor first.

What’s the best way to find a qualified surgeon?

According to Dr. Jean Loftus, author of “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Plastic Surgery,” the biggest problem with finding a qualified surgeon “is that as insurance reimbursements have gone down, the number of unqualified physicians who call themselves plastic surgeons has increased, so finding a plastic surgeon who’s qualified is hard sometimes.” Every doctor “is board certified in something,” she added, “even if all they’ve done is a year internship after medical school.

“Here’s the bottom line. . . . If you want to know that your plastic surgeon is properly certified, the meaningful question to ask is, ‘Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?’ ”


The ABPS ( recommends you go to or (the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery). The status of a physician’s license can be found at, California’s medical licensing board website. American Board of Plastic Surgery?


Let’s say the doctor is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. How do you know that doctor will produce good results?

Said Loftus, “Anybody who’s interested in plastic surgery should see somebody who perhaps performed surgery on somebody else they know who got good results and was happy with their care,” Loftus said. In addition, “they should ask the doctor to speak to a patient who’s been unhappy with their results. Any doctor will give potential patients the names of happy customers, but how does that doctor handle patients that are unhappy?”


How many doctors should a potential patient consult?

Loftus recommends patients interview two or three.


What about all these advertisements for $3,000 breast augmentations and other procedures that seem to be priced ridiculously low? Is there a way for patients to determine if corners are being cut when prices are so substantially reduced?

“It’s tough,” Loftus said. “On the one hand, you get what you pay for. On the other, you’ve got a lot of plastic surgeons seeing their revenues drop with reduced numbers of patients. Ask questions. Does the price include anesthesia fees and operating room fees? Both can add substantially to the cost of the procedure. In some cases they might be advertising just the surgeon’s fee and leaving out the other fees.”

-- Susan Carpenter