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How to Find a Qualified Plastic Surgeon? What You Need to Know

Picture of Damita Joy Ferguson, MEd, PharmD, MBA

Damita Joy Ferguson, MEd, PharmD, MBA

Damita Ferguson is a pharmacist with more than 20 years of experience. A graduate of the University of Florida, she has devoted her life to teaching and helping Americans achieve wellness. She believes empowered patients strengthen the healthcare system, and they deserve the care they expect.

Most doctors have undergone extensive training in medicine. However, some are more qualified than others to deliver on plastic surgery promises.   Of course, patients are reading reviews and seeing results, but they don’t tell the full story of the doctors’ qualifications. Plus, it’s not easy to find everything you need to make the right decision for you. In this article, we give you tools and guidance to help you find a qualified plastic surgeon.

Start with the Basics

Ensure the doctor you have chosen for your plastic surgery has a valid, unrestricted license in the state where they practice. You can find this information on the State Medical Board’s Home Page in the License Verification Portal.   Also, make sure that they do not have a record of discipline for malpractice, abuse, inadequate record-keeping, or unprofessional conduct. These are red flags that tell you the plastic surgeon may not be right for you.

Qualified Plastic Surgeon

After evaluating the doctor, look for facility accreditation.  This will signal the surgeon is following basic, acceptable surgical procedures, working in a sterile operating room, and practicing good skin preparation.   Moreover, it ensures tissues are handled properly to protect the body and that correct equipment sterilization techniques are followed to reduce the possibility of preventable complications and infections.

Background Check

Verify a doctor’s license and professional background information
State Medical Boards for More Licensing Details
Verify Facility Accreditation

Need help with budgeting?

Click here for our Plastic Surgery Beautifill Budget worksheet.

Research the Plastic Surgeon’s Training

Most doctors in the United States must have four years of undergraduate college, four years of medical school, and three to four years of residency. Additionally, they must pass a background check and apply for a license to practice medicine in the state where they want to work.

Plastic surgeons complete a 6-year residency in plastic surgery or a three-year surgery residency and a 3-year plastic surgery residency. The accreditation for these residency programs is through the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. After completing the plastic surgery residencies, plastic surgeons are able to apply for board certification in plastic surgery with the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Board certification ensures plastic surgeons received a high level of training in plastic surgery. It also proves they have the knowledge and skill to deliver the best results.

Certainly, board certification is not a guarantee the plastic surgeon will always deliver the best results. It is a guarantee that the surgeon has the knowledge and training to deliver the best results and deal with complications and medical emergencies.  In your consultation ask your doctor, “Are you board certified in plastic surgery?” Click here to learn more about board certification.

Facility Accreditation Matters for Plastic Surgeons

Facility accreditation also means a doctor has enough people working in the facility to manage a medical emergency should one occur.  There are several organizations that accredit surgical facilities in the United States, but be careful.  Make sure the facility accreditation is through an organization approved by the State Medical Board.  Ask your surgeon, “Is the facility where you operate accredited, and by which organization?” Click here to learn more about facility accreditation.

Consult Past Patient Reviews for the Plastic Surgeon

Patient reviews, photo galleries, and details about past surgeries for the surgeon you are considering are not just to help the doctor. They also help you. Therefore, it is important to consider what patients are saying about surgeons, positive and negative. Plus, you want to judge the work they’ve done using photos.  Pictures should show smooth lines and curves after six months. At that time most of the swelling due to the surgery should have resolved in patients with good eating habits and a healthy lifestyle.

Furthermore, reviews about consultations evaluate how completely the surgeon discussed his past patients’ requirements and expectations.  Regarding communication, did the surgeon discuss the risks and the benefits of plastic surgery?   Did they clearly answer questions about the process and the procedure?  How many revisions did your potential surgeon have to perform and did the patients get satisfactory results?  In short, revisions correct dimples, grooves, wrinkles, folds, and lumps in skin and are often necessary.

Look for Clues on What to Expect from the Plastic Surgeon

Similarly, look for comments about swelling, pain and pain management, and hyperpigmentation (dark patches of skin) after the procedures.  Even with some swelling and discomfort, most patients are performing regular activities within 3 to 4 weeks. Second, consultations on proper compression and lymphatic massages are super important and should be clear and understood.  Third, pay attention to discussions about infections. Infections are rare in healthy patients.

Particularly, zone in on discussions about the amount of scarring and fibrosis (hard lumps under the skin) after 6 months. While some scarring is expected and often the result of genetics, excessive scarring and fibrosis in multiple patients can tell you a lot about the doctor’s expertise and his technique.

Benefits of Choosing a Qualified Plastic Surgeon

Qualified plastic surgeons have a valid medical license to practice medicine in the state where they work. They have completed extensive training in plastic surgery and work in a facility designed for patient safety and care. They communicate well so patients are clear on the pre and post-op experience and have a long list of patients who are happy with their results.  Here are the benefits of choosing a qualified plastic surgeon. 

  • Higher Probability of a Safe and Predictable Surgery
  • Better Chances for a Normal Recovery Period
  • Increased Likelihood for Expected Results
  • Positive Relationship with Your Surgeon and Their Team


In short, plastic surgery has become one of the most sought-after ways to enhance the body’s curves and features. Patients are looking for surgeons who are able to keep them safe and give them the results they want.  Luckily, there are tools and resources useful for helping patients find qualified plastic surgeons for cosmetic procedures.  To sum it up, use the guidance above to help you find a qualified surgeon who is trained to give you the results you want. You’ll be glad you did.


This blog is written by a Doctor of Pharmacy, not a Medical Doctor.  All content and information on this website is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and does not establish any kind of patient-client relationship by your use of this website.  Although we strive to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in the area for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any professional, legal, medical, and financial decisions.

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