Don't Become a Victim of Counterfeit Cosmetic Surgery

Some people might spend more time researching a new appliance purchase than they do a surgical procedure or even their physician's medical credentials

In South Carolina there are no laws restricting what types of procedures a licensed physician can do in his or her office. Physicians from non-surgical backgrounds are doing cosmetic procedures outside of their core training in the office setting. I call this “counterfeit cosmetic surgery.” Some physicians will attend a two or three day lecture course to learn how to perform liposuction or a breast augmentation procedure. Those types of training courses are not restricted to Plastic Surgeons.

Any physician with a medical license, such as Family Practice, Internal Medicine, OB-GYN,or Emergency Medicine can go to those training courses and get basic verbal instruction on these procedures. It is a lot easier for these physicians to go to a weekend surgery training workshop than to complete a formal residency in Plastic Surgery.

How does a person choose a surgical specialist for a cosmetic procedure?

Do your homework! Ask your physician if he or she:

  • have hospital privileges to perform the same procedures that they perform in their office
  • are board-certified in Plastic Surgery and if they are maintaining their certification

Why having hospital privileges is important

Why is it important for your cosmetic surgeon to have privileges to perform the same procedure in a hospital that they do in their office? It's quiet simple, hospitals do not want to accept the liability of a surgeon who hasn't been formally trained in a certain procedure or procedures that will be outside the surgeons primary scope of residency or fellowship training. Therefore, hospitals will not credential a surgeon or physician who has only received "weekend" training. Board Certified Plastic Surgeons are the only specialty that receive formal residency training in liposuction and therefore are credentialed to perform hospital based lipsouction. Here is an example: OB-GYN physicians are well-trained during their residency in the care of the pregnant female and female surgery. Their core residency training does not include liposuction!

Many people are not aware that there is no recognized board certification in Cosmetic Surgery. Anyone with a medical license can place out a shingle and call themselves a Cosmetic Surgeon. If they are not board-certified Plastic Surgeons, what specialty are they board-certified in? Is their board certification recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties? Is their office surgery center even accredited?

Bad Liposuction

One of the most popular cosmetic procedures performed by ill-trained physicians is liposuction. I see way to many unhappy patients as a result of bad liposuction from these physicians. Contour irregularities are the most common complaint from bad liposuction. Unfortunately, their answer to this problem is more and more liposuction. Many times, these office performed procedures are done with no or only minimal patient sedation and vital signs monitoring.

Cosmetic Surgery Complications

First off let me say that every surgeon has post-operative complications, no matter how well-trained or experienced they are. Most cosmetic surgery complications are caused by physician lack of training and skill. Cosmetic surgery complications can run the gamut from contour irregulaties to burned skin to perforated internal organs. Plastic Surgeons are formally trained in treating these complications, is your "Cosmetic Surgeon" formally trained as well?


In many cases, patients will use the cost of the procedure as their basis for whom they select. I have found, that in many instances, the cost of a liposuction procedure is more at one of these ill-trained office based liposuction practitioners.

Plastic Surgeons have a unique level of training that encompasses cosmetic as well as reconstructive procedures. The minimum standard to become board-certified in Plastic Surgery is at least three years of a surgical prerequisite residency after medical school and at least two years of Plastic Surgery residency or fellowship. Most of us who have been in practice for at least 10 years have completed a full five-year General Surgery residency and at least a two-year Plastic Surgery residency. It is during that comprehensive plastic surgery residency that we learn the safe and effective techniques for cosmetic and reconstructive procedures through hands-on surgical instruction from board-certified Professors of Plastic Surgery. We continue to perfect our techniques through years of surgical experience. Plastic Surgeons also have to acquire continuing education yearly to maintain our board certification and membership in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. As many newer techniques become available, we have to attend postgraduate courses to become fully trained in these procedures. We will never stop learning. Was it worth all this training when it is not a state requirement? Absolutely! Patient safety demands it, and there is no substitute for appropriate training and experience. The lengthy and extensive training pays off daily through the smiles of happy patients. Cosmetic Surgery patients expect results!

Unfortunately, I see a fair number of unhappy patients who have been operated on by these unqualified "cosmetic surgeons".

If you have any questions, please call Dr. Ralph Cozart at Myrtle Beach Plastic Surgery at 843-497-7771.

Did You Know?

Many of these ill-trained physicians advertise "Board Certified" but their board certification may be in Family Medicine, Dermatology, OB-GYN, or other specialty and have nothing to do with being a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon


Revision surgery to correct bad cosmetic surgery, may cost you more than your original procedure.