We’ve all seen photos of cosmetic plastic surgery gone horribly wrong. There’s even an entire television show on the E! network devoted to botched plastic surgery. However, there are worse things that can happen than having your breasts come out uneven (traumatic as that can be).

Too many patients who have gone in for a cosmetic procedure die while under the knife or from complications following plastic surgery. Author Olivia Goldsmith and Dr. Donda West, the mother of Kanye West, both died shortly after plastic surgery.

Many plastic surgery-related fatalities occur at the hands of surgeons who aren’t board-certified and/or anesthesiologists who haven’t been properly trained. Most plastic surgery-related deaths result from anesthesia errors.

That’s why it’s essential to research your plastic surgeon, just as you would any doctor in whose hands you’re placing your life. This includes doing the following:

— Ensure that your surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. They must have had a specified amount of training and experience to be ABPS-certified, and must have passed rigorous tests. Don’t just rely on a surgeon’s claim of being “board certified.”

— Find out if and where the surgeon has hospital privileges. Even surgeons with their own practices can have them. This can be an important advantage if something goes wrong and you need to be hospitalized.

— Get a surgeon who has successfully done the procedure you’re going to be undergoing numerous times. That’s an essential question to ask. You should also ask to see before and after photos of your surgeon’s patients.

— Get recommendations from friends who have had the same procedure done. This can give you some insight into the doctor’s bedside manner and how thorough a doctor’s follow-up monitoring and care are. Your primary care doctor or other physicians can often provide recommendations as well.

Surgeons and other medical professionals have just as much responsibility to patients undergoing elective surgery, including cosmetic surgery, as they have to those undergoing medically-necessary procedures. When plastic surgeons’ negligence or errors results in injury or worse, they can and should be held legally responsible.

Source: Health News Digest, “How To Choose the Right Plastic Surgeon,” accessed March 24, 2016