The Face & Body Center

of Plastic and Hand Surgery Associates

Don't be a Guinea Pig

Guinea pig

How do you choose a plastic surgeon?  A few years ago it was enough to confirm your surgeon was “board-certified”. Unfortunately, there are now too many improperly trained and inexperienced physicians masquerading as plastic surgeons that this is no longer sufficient. So just exactly how should you choose your plastic surgeon?

  • Ask around. Do your homework.  Find out what you can before you go to your first consultation. Online resources and friends can help you with this information.
  • Don’t believe an advertising spot alone. Some companies list surgeons with special titles such as “Diamond”, or special levels.  This does not guarantee expertise and is usually only an indicator of the amount of product bought from that one vendor by the doctor’s office.
  • Experience matters. In regard to the procedure you are interested in:  How many of these procedures has this surgeon specifically done?  Your surgeon should be skilled and not trying to perfect his skills on you.  These questions should be answered freely without reservation.  Experienced surgeons understand these questions and are happy to share this information with you.
  • Make sure your plastic surgeon spends time during the consultation explaining the surgery or procedure to you.  The amount of time your surgeon spends with you before your procedure is indicative of the time he or she spends actually performing the procedure and taking care of you afterwards.  The surgeon should spend enough time with you that all your questions are answered.
  • If having surgery, verify that your surgery is to be performed in a certified and/or accredited surgery center. Properly trained staff is vital to a successful outcome.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the facility or the staff.  Those that are properly credentialed are happy to display their affiliations.  Look for any of the following:
    1. State Licensure where required.
    2. Medicare Certification Documentation.
    3. American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities. http://www.aaaasf.org/,
    4. Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Healthcare http://www.aaahc.org/ ,
    5. The Joint Commission http://www.jointcommission.org/ accreditation notices.
    6. Membership certificates in the national Ambulatory Surgery Center Association or state affiliated Ambulatory Surgery Center Association.
  • Avoid bargain-basement cosmetic surgery centers.  Many of these surgeons are “training” to become cosmetic surgeons, and their patients are their guinea pigs.  It’s akin to going to a barber school for a haircut, which won’t affect you for the rest of your life.  In plastic surgery, as in life, you usually get what you pay for. There is an old saying; pay peanuts, get monkey.
  • Closely examine the surgeon’s before and after photos.  Be wary if your surgeon does not have his or her own photos to show you. Some surgeons list these online while others will show you their book when you come for your consultation.  Again, closely examine these and feel free to ask questions.
  • Make sure your plastic surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. You can easily go to the board’s website at abplsurg.org.  Most plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery are members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, so going to their website is another good option: www.plasticsurgery.org.  Surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery must undergo at least 3 years of general surgery training, 2 years of plastic surgery training, pass comprehensive written and oral examinations, and adhere to a strict code of medical ethics.  No other certifying board requires their surgeons to meet standards as stringent as these.  That’s why everyone says it is important to choose a “board-certified plastic surgeon.”
  • A cosmetic surgeon is not a plastic surgeon. Board certified cosmetic surgeons can be any type of doctor, from and Obstetrician Gynecologist to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor.  You wouldn’t want a plastic surgeon to remove your tonsils, so would you want your ENT to perform your breast augmentation?  Some of the most well-known cosmetic surgeons are not board-certified plastic surgeons, although most patients think they are because of the dollars they spend in advertising.   Sadly patients are treated daily for additional surgeries only after finding out afterwards that their original surgeon was not a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and actually had no formal breast or body surgery training.
  • What about other physicians?  Unfortunately, any physician can call himself or herself a plastic surgeon or even “board-certified,” but the question should always be “board-certified” by whom?  Being board-certified by the Board of Internal Medicine does not make someone qualified to perform cosmetic procedures.  Be wary of those who are certified by any board except the American Board of Plastic Surgery, as designation by other boards can be meaningless when considering plastic surgery.

Above all, make sure you get a good feeling from your plastic surgeon.  If you don’t feel comfortable with the first surgeon you meet, find another.  Plastic surgery, as with any surgery, is a big deal, so take your time in finding whoever the best surgeon for you is. For more information on this topic visit the America Society for Plastic Surgery here: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/asps-publicly-supports-newbeauty-plastic-surgery-education-efforts.html?utm_source=PSN-Connection&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=15-02-24_newbeauty&utm_campaign=Member-Bulletin

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.