Considering Cosmetic Surgery? Expert Says Buyers Should Beware

The cosmetic procedure business is booming but an expert in the field warns that people thinking of getting a tummy tuck, face lift, or wrinkles filled should do their homework first.

"There are a lot of people doing cosmetic procedures; some are very skilled and some are not. It's really 'buyer beware' in this instance," Dr. Jeffrey Dover, president-elect of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), noted in a telephone interview with Reuters Health.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Tameka Foster, the wife of R&B singer Usher, suffered a heart attack as a result of anesthesia in preparation for liposuction. And in November 2007, Donda West, mother of rap star Kanye West, died following a breast reduction, tummy tuck and liposuction.

The key is to go to someone who is reputable, has a lot of experience, "and someone who is recommended by your primary care physician or by a state or national society or by someone you trust," Dover said. "I personally think you should go to a physician who is a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon," he added.

Before having a cosmetic procedure, Dover recommends patients ask these specific questions of the person performing the procedure: How long have you been doing this particular procedure? Where did you train? What are you board certified in? How many of these specific cases have you done?

For example, Dover said: "If you're going to have a filler procedure done, ask: How many filler procedures have you done? How many with this exact filler and would you mind if I spoke to someone who has had it done in your office just to double check?"

"If at any point, with those questions, the doctor flinches or doesn't give you a good answer and you lose any form of trust it's time to get up and walk out," Dover said.

In the end, Dover said, it pays to "be cautious, be prudent, ask, check, hesitate, and make sure you feel total trust in the person doing it. Just because you see an ad in the paper or a magazine doesn't mean the person is any good. Many patients don't distinguish a reported article from a paid advertisement."

And Dover advises against relying on price to make a decision, noting that medical procedures are not the time to shop around for a bargain. "You have one face, treat it with respect. I wouldn't negotiate on price, always negotiate on quality," Dover said.