Do your homework before cosmetic surgery

Georgia has virtually no limits on which doctors can do cosmetic surgery. Surgeon photo from the Centers for Disease Control.

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Georgia has virtually no limits on which doctors can do cosmetic surgery. Surgeon photo from the Centers for Disease Control.

» Read series: Parts 1 and 2 here


It's consumers beware when it comes to cosmetic surgery in Georgia. The state has virtually no limits on which doctors can do cosmetic surgery, where they can do it, and what they say in their advertising, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News found. To protect yourself, take these steps:

  • Check out the doctor: Find out whether your doctor is board-certified and find out about that board. Some, such as the American Board of Plastic Surgery, are highly-respected and require years of training. Other boards and associations may certify doctors who have only taken a weekend course on liposuction. Ask if the doctor has admitting privileges at a hospital. Which hospital? Also, check your doctor's history on the state medical board website for any disciplinary actions. Find out if the doctor has malpractice insurance. Meet with more than one doctor before picking your surgeon. Ask other doctors you respect for recommendations.
  • Check out the facility: If you are not getting your surgery in a hospital, make sure that the office where your surgery will take place is accredited by one of these organizations: (a) The Joint Commission; (b) The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care; (c) The American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities; (d) The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The accreditation process checks for proper equipment and adequate design of the facility as well as a qualified staff and procedures to keep patients safe.
  • Check out the staff: Ask who will be handling your anesthesia and what kind of anesthesia you will get. Ask if the doctor will handle every part of your surgery or if an assistant will also be involved. Ask about the qualifications of others involved in your surgery.
  • Check out yourself: Know about your own health issues and find out if any would increase your risks. If one doctor says you should not have a procedure because of your own risks, it's not wise to try to find someone else who will do the procedure anyway.
  • Think hard about risks – this is an elective procedure: Find out from your doctor what can go wrong, even if you're in top health. Infections are always a risk when surgery is involved and can be life-threatening. Anesthesia can also lead to complications. Ask your doctor and do your own research about the risks inherent in any surgical procedure and decide if it's worth it. Read the consent form and be an informed consumer.

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Dr. Windell Boutte, a dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, posted videos to YouTube showing her dancing to music before and during some surgical procedures. The videos were introduced in a malpractice lawsuit. The videos contain some graphic content. Here is one of the videos.