Qualifications and the Katie Couric Show

Published on February 16, 2013 by Matthew Romans

We all see headlines about “Plastic Surgery Disasters” or “Botched Plastic Surgery” from time to time. Did you know that most of these procedures are not performed by legitimate plastic surgeons?

My first point is that cosmetic surgery is still “real” surgery. Patients sometimes seem to place it in a different category than say, having your gallbladder removed, but it still carries real risks.

Patients who travel outside the US for bargain plastic surgery are taking huge risk, as there is little oversight of medicine in many countries. There are fantastic plastic surgeons all in every country, and I have seen beautiful work from overseas. However, the problem is figuring out whether your surgeon is legitimate. It’s hard enough in the USA. I have personally treated dozens of patients who have left the country for bargain plastic surgery only to return severely disfigured. I know of 2 who have died. This is still a problem even in our own country.

One of the least publicized and yet most important problems in medicine today is the lack of standardization in medical training for cosmetic surgery. The laws governing the practice of medicine in the United States are holdovers from the 1940′s. In those days your family doctor would treat the normal colds and other chronic health problems, but would also be able to deliver babies or take out your appendix if necessary because there simply wasn’t anyone else around in small towns.

The law has developed so that physicians are extremely free to operate within their sphere of comfort. Usually this is a good thing, but in cosmetic surgery, it is not. Because of the money involved, many unscrupulous and unqualified non-surgeons have entered the cosmetic surgery market. I think that most patients would be horrified to learn that ANYONE with an MD – regardless of their training – can buy a liposuction machine and simply begin performing plastic surgery in the office. Many take a weekend course and this is their only exposure to surgical technique. They then begin calling themselves “plastic surgeons.” For the time being, this is all legal. It is very misleading to the consumer. Unfortunately their results are often terrible. Too often, these individuals give the rest of us a bad name.

Check out this brief video from a recent episode of the Katie Couric show:


this was a patient who apparently received silicone injections to the buttocks – extremely dangerous and not even legal in the US.

How can you be safe? Qualifications, qualifications, qualifications.

Dr. Romans and myself are both board certified by the American Board of Surgery (that’s what the FACS initials mean after our names) and the American Board of Plastic Surgery. We both spent 7 years in residency learning plastic surgery (after 4 years of college and 4 more years of medical school) before beginning practice.

Plasticsurgery.org is the official site of the American Society of Plastic Surgery and can give a list of board certified plastic surgeons in your area.


Look around the office or website for the American Society of Plastic Surgery logo below:


Also, hospitals are very rigorous in requiring credentials. Ask your physician if they have privileges to perform cosmetic surgery at a hospital.

In short, look out for yourself. Unfortunately, the government isn’t looking out for you in this instance. Even with the massive amount of laws and regulations in place, this area of medicine is still the “wild West.” Whomever you choose to do your surgery, make sure you are in good hands by doing your homework first. Your’e worth it!