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Cosmetic Surgery Advice -- Consider the Source

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I just read an article from the Indy Star, the online version of The Indianapolis Star newspaper, on how to find a skilled cosmetic surgeon. The article advised prospective patients to seek a board-certified physician. So far so good. The piece went on to suggest looking for one from “the big four,” meaning a dermatologist, an ear nose and throat specialist, an ophthalmologist or a plastic surgeon. No!

Why not? Well, let me put it this way — do you want a dermatologist to perform your tummy tuck?

To be fair, the author of the article, Shari Rudavski, asked for input from the president of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery. That’s why she got the advice she did. To be extremely fair, perhaps Ms. Rudavski only had facial cosmetic surgery in mind in authoring her article (though she doesn’t specify). Even given the benefit of that doubt, however, do you want an ear, nose and throat specialist or an ophthalmologist giving you a face lift?

Please join me in a resounding “No!”

There are talented physicians from disciplines like dermatology, or even gynecology, who perform cosmetic surgery. In fact, almost any physician can add cosmetic procedures like face lifts, eyelid lifts, breast augmentation and tummy tucks to their repertoire. Today there are still no standard requirements to meet before you hang out a shingle that says “cosmetic surgery.” If you turn to a dermatologist or other doctor for a cosmetic procedure, you really don’t know what you’re getting.

And that’s just the point. The only way to be sure your cosmetic surgeon has been adequately trained and evaluated is to choose a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). That way you’ll know they have successfully completed at least five years of surgical residency, with a portion of that training specifically dedicated to plastic surgery. They are also required to be in practice for at least two years and to pass peer review, as well as vigorous oral and written exams focused on plastic surgery.

If you’re seeking facial plastic surgery, you may want to consider either a surgeon certified by the ABPS or one whose certification is from the American Board of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. (Just don’t have the latter perform surgery on your body!)

Simple, right? You’re considering a cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, you want an expert who has training and experience in the right field and the certification to prove it. In fact, APBS certification should be the first thing you find out about a prospective surgeon…the box that needs checking before you ask all your other questions, request to see before and after photos, ask to talk to other patients and more.

There are many talented ABPS-certified plastic surgeons available to you. Don’t settle for a physician who may have added cosmetic procedures to their practice as an afterthought.

Oh, so who am I to be giving this advice? I’m not a physician with any kind of certification — no axe to grind, no patients to attract. I’m an independent plastic surgery writer and researcher looking to share what I’ve learned with the hope it may help someone out.

Add a Comment6 Comments


Thanks for reading and encouraging!

I have not heard of Eye Magic, sorry.

Are you frustrated with droopy upper lids, puffy lower lids or both? If your upper lids/brows have migrated south, I'm afraid surgery is the best (and probably only) way to address the problem.

If your lower lids are the issue, there may be tactics that will improve your appearance to some extent. I believe it would be worthwhile to visit a board certified plastic surgeon who offers a variety of treatments, including physician-strength creams and injectables, even if you're sure you don't want surgery. These professionals understand the mechanisms behind aging around the eyes and a good one will be straight with you about what can and can't be accomplished. (How to find a good one? Research on the Web, ask others, and use your own gut instincts!)

And if you should ever waver in your vow to avoid surgery, you should know that eye procedures are relatively easy to recover from. In the hands of a board certified plastic surgeon with plenty of experience with successful blepharoplasty surgery and the evidence to prove it, I would not be frightened.

I wrote an article a while back about lower lids...don't know if it will help:


Good luck!


June 8, 2009 - 1:51pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for the article. This is one of the reasons Im so anti-surgery...its hard to trust the doctors. Do you have any suggestions for non surgical alternatives to blepharoplasty? I have tried creams and nothing seems to work, and I dont want to get surgery. The only thing I found is called Eye Magic which seems to look good. Have you heard of it?

Keep up the good work!


June 8, 2009 - 1:27pm
EmpowHER Guest

In Canada, there is a FRCSC stands for Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada. To be certified in plastic surgery, doctors must successfully complete a five year residency program after receiving their Medical Degree..Any doctor in Canada with a license to practice medicine can practice "cosmetic surgery". It’s important to select a surgeon who is strictly dedicated to plastic and cosmetic surgery.
The surgeon should be a member of two professional organizations - The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons (CSPS) and The Canadian Society of Aesthetic (Cosmetic) Plastic Surgeons (CSAPS) - the only recognized Canadian professional bodies specializing in plastic and cosmetic surgery.

April 29, 2009 - 7:33am
EmpowHER Guest

Over 10 years ago, the Canadian government approved Botox(type A) for the treatment of ophthalmic disorders associated with muscle overactivity such as misalignment of the eyes and contractions of the eyelids. Since then, it has also received approval to relieve a variety of conditions involving hyperactive muscles.

April 29, 2009 - 7:10am

I couldn't agree more! In a "past life" I had the need to write Web pages for a cosmetic surgeon who was actually trained and experienced in quite a different field. This physician was performing breast augmentation, tummy tucks, liposuction and more, and I was actually quite uncomfortable having to write about it. I realized at the time that the physician's patients just didn't know enough to ask the right questions.

Until the regulations governing who can call themselves what in the world of plastic surgery change (if they ever do), we need to let patients know they must look for surgeons who are certified specifically by the ABPS.

March 16, 2009 - 12:37pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for the great information. Too many people are victims of phony plastic surgeons who pass themselves off as "Board-certified." What they don't tell patients is that they are not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, but by the Board of Opthalmology or Otolaryngology. This is a major problem.

March 15, 2009 - 9:24am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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