Costa Rica
Country profile

Cosmetic surgery in Costa Rica - Doctor training and accreditation

Qualifying as a doctor or surgeon in Costa Rica requires long and intensive training. Doctors study for seven years for their medical degree followed by a further four to five years to become a specialist in their particular field of medicine.

Four or five years are spent studying basic and clinical sciences (involving theory and practice) in university hospitals, followed by one year of internship with rotation in Medicine, Surgery, GynOb, and Paediatrics. To get their license to practice in Costa Rica doctors must do an additional year of Social Services in rural areas. Only when this has been completed is the candidate recognised as a physician and post graduate studies can begin.

Post graduate general surgery takes five years, and certain specialties (depending on requirements) need a general surgery degree prior to initiating a surgical subspecialty. Others require at least three years of general surgery prior to initiation of the subspecialty. Surgical subspecialties are no less than three years, and can go up to six years.

Most doctors/surgeons train in Costa Rica, but some also train abroad for their subspecialty, such as in the US, Mexico, Argentina or Spain, gaining professional memberships with these countries. In order to practice in Costa Rica all physicians need to belong to the Costa Rican Medical Association (including those who have trained abroad). There are other professional associations for different specialties but the important accreditation is with the Medical Association, which is based in the capital city, San Jose.

The Costa Rican Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Salud) is responsible for hospital safety and accreditation, while the College of Physicians and Surgeons is responsible for physician accreditation and recognition.

All plastic surgeons should be registered (board-certified) with the Costa Rica Plastic Surgery Board and will likely be members of professional associations such as the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Before committing to treatment compare services, treatments, costs and credentials of a handful of providers and read some patient testimonials. Check out the medical team's credentials and qualifications with the Costa Rican Medical Association (all doctors and surgeons must be registered and have permission to practice) and find out all you can about a hospital or clinic and any international accreditations, for example, you could ask about mortality rates, success rates, infection rates and arrangements for follow-up care.

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