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Who is your Cosmetic Surgeon?

I ask this question because most patients don’t realize that there are no regulations on who can claim to be a “cosmetic surgeon“. Your ‘cosmetic surgeon’ might be a plastic surgeon, an ENT surgeon, an Ob-Gyn, a dermatologist, an ER doc, or a Family Practice doctor. Any doctor with a medical license can advertise to be a ‘cosmetic surgeon’. And that doctor can make that claim having worked not even a single day as a surgery resident. Now, the majority of ‘cosmetic surgeons’ are Plastic Surgeons and Otolaryngologists (ENT) doctors. Most plastic surgeons are fully trained general surgeons(5-6 years of residency) who went on to a plastic surgery residency (2-3 years). The ENT doctors typically train 5-6 years and a lot then did an extra year of just facial cosmetic training. If your cosmetic surgeon has either of the above qualifications, you are probably in very good hands.

The problem is doctors incomes have plummeted, especially in the past 10 years, and so doctors in other specialties are becoming “cosmetic surgeons” to replace that lost income. The issue is that as a Dermatologist, ER physician, or family medicine doctor these physicians have no formal surgical training. They go to weekend long courses and learn how to operate. Well, your plastic surgeon and ENT doctors did 6-8 years of training working 100 hour weeks to learn to operate. We trained that long for a reason. There is a whole lot to learn about surgery and its effects on the body. I’m not sure a Friday and Saturday seminar can replace my 7 years of residency.

Now, I am not discrediting all non plastic surgeons and ENT’s. We certainly don’t ‘own’ the rights to cosmetic medicine. In my community there are Derms who have done lipo for many years and do a nice job and are good doctors. My advice to you as the patient is to look at your doctors back ground training. Not all ‘cosmetic surgeons’ are made the same. Look at what specialty they did their residency in, if it wasn’t surgical in nature I think you need to ask some serious questions.

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