Trouble Getting Deposit Back from Cosmetic Surgeon Who Isn't Qualified, What Should I Do?

In March I was scheduled for a tummy tuck with a cosmetic surgeon (I was told by him that a cosmetic surgeon was just as qualified as a plastic surgeon)I found really bad reviews on him & asked for my deposit back. Since March his receptionist has been back and forth with me. I told them I would complain to Bomex because I went to other plastic surgeons and they told me I don't even have enough skin for a full tummy tuck. I'm not sure how I should deal with this. any advice would be appreciated.

Doctor Answers 12

Unscrupulous doctor won't return patient's deposit

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I would send a certified letter to this physician demanding your money back and giving a specific time frame, say 2 weeks. You should also include in your letter that you will file a complaint either with BOMEX (the Arizona Medical Board) or the Osteopathic Board if he is an osteopath (DO) if he doesn't comply. BOMEX in particular is very aggressive in pursuing actions against Arizona doctors. Unfortunately, the Osteopathic Board is very lax and it may take some more aggressive actions on your part.

Good luck!

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Plastic Surgeon vs Cosmetic surgeon

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There is a big difference between a cosmetic surgeon and a plastic surgeon in terms of the training and board certification.  It is important to do research in manner.  In addition you have many non-surgeons (e.g. family practice or emergency room physicians) who practice 'cosmetic surgery'.

From a refund perspective, you may have to write a formal letter documenting your concerns.

Refund from"Cosmetic Surgeon"

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Unfortunately, there is not much to do but write a letter explaining the situation. I have found that many of these “cosmetic surgeons” realize that they are better off providing the  refund  than having you complain to the medical board that you were misled.

In the big picture, I am glad you avoided surgery with this position;  the deposit may be a small price to pay for an important " lesson”.

Best wishes.


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I am glad that you have now done your homework and have realized there is a big difference betwen a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and a Cosmetic Surgeon. The difference in the training is remarkable. I would read the fine print to see what their refund policy actually states if you signed a cosmetic cost sheet. They may be justified in keeping the deposit if you were informed of their refund policy. What I do not think is justified are physicians who pass themselves off as plastic surgeons who have not had the training.  You may want to seek assistance from the State Medical Board or Better Business Bureau.

Robert Heck, MD, FACS
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 83 reviews

Getting Deposit Back From Unqualified Surgeon

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You hit on a very important point.  Anyone can call themselves a plastic or cosmetic surgeon and claim to be board-certified.  Make sure that your surgeon is certified by the AMer. Board of Plastic Surgery and also that he/she has hospital privileges to perform the surgical procedure that you have chosen.  Your county or state medical society or state licensure board should be able to assist you in obtaining your refund.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon

Deposit refund

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Your situation is one that I have heard over and over again during my years of practice. Many plastic surgeons and those calling them plastic surgeons, try to pressure a patient to leave a nonrefundable deposit at the time of the initial consult because they know if you do you are less likely to cancel your surgery. The best chance of getting your money back is to call or write them a letter requesting the return of your deposit, your reasons for requesting it, and that you intend to take them to small claims court. If you do go to small claims court you may or may not win, depending on the contract. Just a threatening letter may be enough to get your desposit back. If you make enough of a nuisance of yourself you may get the deposit back.

Ronald J. Edelson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Buyer Beware

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Did you sign a document agreeing to a non refundable deposit? It is unfortunate that you did not check out your surgeons qualifications. I agree this is a legal question.

Richard Linderman, MD
Indianapolis Plastic Surgeon

Cosmetic Surgeon "fool me once.... shame on me!"

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It may difficult to obtain a refund without going through small claims court.  That process may cost you more than the deposit you placed with the doctor in question.  You may have to consider it a "life" lesson and be thankful that your intuition kicked in before you had an operation by this doctor.  Sorry this the best advice I have.  Good luck

Trouble Getting Money Back From A Cosmetic Surgeon Who Isnt Qualified

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This is an important example of the need for patients to do their research before scheduling cosmetic surgery.  Board Certification in plastic surgery is essential.  You said that this doctor isn't qualified... your state's medical board should be notified immediately.  The medical board may be able to assist you with this problem. 

Elizabeth S. Harris, MD
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon

Check with your state

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All physicians are licensed in the states in which they practice. There are usually rules that they have to follow. In New York we have the Office of Professional Medical Conduct which can investigate physicians for unethical practices. See what exists in your state and complain to them. Also you can sue the physician in small claims court.

Good luck

William B. Rosenblatt, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.