There has been a lot of talk lately about certification in plastic surgery. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons recently announced its new public relations campaign “Do Your Homework” to educate the public about the dangers of non-certified physicians performing plastic surgery.

In advance of this initiative, the ASPS worked with USA Today reporter Jayne O’Donnell on a series of articles focusing on safety in plastic surgery. The first of these, “Lack of training can be deadly in cosmetic surgery” went live online September 15 with a wealth of information on the subject.

On September 20, USA Today released an editorial on the issue not only urging patients to research their physicians, but also pushing legislators, regulators and the medical societies and state boards who certify surgeons to “police doctors straying beyond their expertise.”

I have to agree with James Hinsdale, president of the California Medical Association, who told USA Today simply, “Plastic surgeons, no matter how you mince it, have had the best training to do plastic surgery.”

And training is what it’s all about. Read the heart-wrenching stories of plastic surgery gone wrong, the tragic deaths involved and the families devastated by them. The response should be to do whatever is necessary to avoid these unnecessary deaths at the hands of unskilled practitioners.

The problem is, once licensed as a doctor, there is little stopping physicians from doing operations outside of their licensed specialty and – most importantly — training. While medical specialty boards do certify doctors in areas like plastic surgery, with the rise of office-based surgery, more medical doctors and dentists are bypassing certification that might be required by a hospital.

The bottom line, at this point, is that it is up to patients to research their potential surgeons. Don’t be afraid to ask about their credentials. Be wary of office-based – or worse, spa-based — surgical procedures. If your surgeon operates in his or her own surgical center, make sure the facility is fully accredited.

Remember, the old adage that you get what you pay for is true. Be sure you aren’t trading quality training and expertise for less expense because in the end, you may pay more dearly than you ever imagined.

We offer some helpful tips on finding the right surgeon on our Website and by calling one of our helpful staff members at 713-799-9999.