Self-Proclaimed Cosmetic and Aesthetic Surgeons

In 2011, USA Today released a startling article about Kellee Lee-Howard, a woman who went into a cosmetic surgical center to have a “minimally invasive” liposuction. Little did Kellee know, the surgeon she saw was not a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist. The next morning after her procedure, Kellee Lee-Howard’s 10 year-old son found her dead in their family room. The “cosmetic” surgeon she saw did not understand the basic principles of pharmacology and patient safety, which led Kellee Lee-Howard to die of lidocaine overdose; a substance used for anesthesia.


The outbreak of self-proclaimed ”cosmetic” or ”aesthetic”   surgeons is on the rise, and many consumers are unaware. In fact, many of these physicians have been trained only in general surgery.

If you are seeking a qualified plastic surgeon or dermatologist, here are some tips you can follow to ensure your safety and the quality results you expect:

1. Check to see if your surgeon is board-certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Board of Dermatology at or

2. Check the surgeon’s record for disciplinary actions- contact your state’s medical board for the surgeons records, settlements, and records of disciplinary action.

3. Check the surgeon’s credibility- contact your state’s medical board to ensure the surgeon’s license is active and genuine. Even if you find a credible board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist, he or she may not be the right surgeon for you. Establishing a successful relationship with your plastic surgeon or dermatologist is important. Dr. Werschler strongly believes that the perfect outcome of any cosmetic procedure exists only when the physician and patient agree and understand the patient’s goals and desires, as well the risks and benefits.