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September 15, 2009

Plastic Surgery Nightmares

model with oxygen tank holding up an oxygen mask

Photo Credit: Liz Von Hoene

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Before signing up for surgery, consider your doctor's credentials: Unlike "aesthetic plastic surgeons"—plastic and reconstructive surgeons who specialize in cosmetic procedures and undergo at least seven years of training—"cosmetic surgeons" aren't subject to any regulation in the U.S. That means that anyone with a medical license (but not necessarily any surgical experience) can use the title. To check your surgeon's credentials, consult with the American Board of Medical Specialties (abms.org).

DON'T BE A VICTIM, Spencer Aronfeld, Esq.
1. Check your state's licensing board for your doctor's name and confirm his policy with the insurance company. Board-certified doctors have at least a year of hands-on experience and have met vigorous industry standards.
2. Check if the doctor has staff privileges at the local hospital.
3. Verify that the before/after pictures are authentic and ask previous patients about their pre- and post-op experiences.
4. Avoid practitioner-anesthesiologists—twice the work means divided attention.

Sounds like a no-brainer, but sites like discountmedspa.com shamelessly serve up knockoff Botox and Restylane to any desperate housewife, and even offer videos on how to self-inject. But if you don't want nerve damage or disfigurement with your inflated lips (as corrective plastic surgeons like Dr. Andrew Jacono of Manhasset, NY, have seen), then steer clear. The bottom line: "The concept of performing injections on yourself is similar to performing surgery on yourself," says Dublin, CA, plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Williams.

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