Reduce Risk with Research and Smart Selection

Thorough research concerning a surgeon’s training and the certification of the surgical center are the cornerstones of keeping yourself safe. Because of this, I share with potential patients the following comprehensive guidelines for undergoing cosmetic surgery safely and stress free:

1. Visit Websites

Visit websites like the American Board of Plastic Surgery ( or American College of Surgeons ( to see where a surgeon stands in terms of qualifications. Make sure you choose a well trained PLASTIC SURGEON, someone who has had general surgery or OMF/ENT training, followed by a formal 2 or 3 year plastic surgery training program or a full 6-7 year plastic surgery training program. Many cosmetic surgeons take weekend courses and are not board certified or eligible plastic surgeons. In fact, many cosmetic surgeons don’t even have the background or training in surgery that makes a safe plastic surgeon. So research, ask questions, and be careful.

2. Meet your Surgeon

While some may argue that you don't need to click on a personal level to have a safe surgical experience, feeling comfortable with your doctor is actually an important consideration: If you feel at ease, you are more likely to address your fears and ask the questions that will paint the fullest picture of the doctor’s competence.

Furthermore, there are certain red flags to look for such as a doctor who seems to be persuading you to have a surgery or who actively pushes additional procedures. When meeting a potential surgeon, the vibe you should be getting is one of caution, no matter what the procedure. Ask questions like how many times have you performed this procedure? Have you had complications? How many?

3. Ask abut AAAHC

Ask about AAAHC or other ambulatory surgery center accreditation. As discussed above, ensuring your safety is not just about the surgeon. Make sure to ask about a center s emergency (or ambulatory) accreditation. Either the AAAHC or the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) are the ones to look for, as both mean that the facility has met stringent regulations for providing emergency care, and its surgeons and support staff have undergone intensive education and practice drills to ensure patients are protected should a complication arise. Be extremely wary about doing your procedure in a simple office-setting environment. Without AAAHC, AAAASF or DHS accreditation and a certified anesthesia provider, you should be very hesitant to have a procedure performed in this setting.

4. A Medical Exam is a Must

Any qualified surgeon will require a patient undergo a full medical evaluation prior to surgery if you have any health issues or are over the age of 50 and will review the results personally. If your doctor discredits the need for a full workup or simply takes your word that you are in good health, you need to find another doctor. And disappointing as it may be, if the results of your exam indicate you are not a good candidate for cosmetic surgery, heed the warning and don't go doctor shopping until you find a surgeon who'll agree to perform the procedure. Ignoring this warning is one of the most common causes of disaster.

5. Follow the Doctor's Orders

There are good reasons doctors give instructions prior to surgery. If you ignore them, you may be putting your life in peril. Whether it s quitting smoking or avoiding alcohol or aspirin, when it comes to pre-operative orders, caution is king.

6. Be Honest with your Surgeon

This should go without saying, but it is extremely risky to withhold information about your medical history in an effort to get your doctor to approve a surgery. Even if you think it’s irrelevant, be sure to disclose all medical conditions (past or present), prior surgeries, and medications or drug use. Your doctor is bound by the laws of confidentiality, so disclose everything to avoid danger.

7. Be Honest with Yourself

While this is not so much a matter of safety as it is psychological health, the best way to assure a positive outcome is to be honest with yourself (and your doctor) regarding your expectations. Cosmetic surgery is not to be taken lightly; make sure you identify the reasons you desire a procedure, assess what you feel will change as a result, and verify that your goals regarding the surgery are realistic. For example, liposuction or breast enhancement may boost your confidence at the beach, but they will not address underlying depression or solve interpersonal issues.

So what we tell patients is really three things: First of all, cosmetic surgery is not something that should be entered into haphazardly—it can provide enormous benefits for the right candidate, but requires serious consideration. Secondly, the best way to protect yourself is to do your own research prior to even meeting a potential surgeon. And finally, if you have followed the first two pointers, you can relax. Plastic surgery itself actually carries minimal risk when you put yourself in the hands of a qualified, certified, plastic surgery specialist someone who has trained and devoted their career to the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

If you are interested in finding out more about the risks and rewards of cosmetic surgery, contact Beautologie Medical Group in Bakersfield to schedule a consultation and evaluation of your candidacy. Call (661) 327-2800 or visit

Content written and approved by Darshan Shah, MD Plastic Surgeon.

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