Every patient considering plastic surgery wants their results to be the very best possible. Moreover, they seek to avoid any preventable bad outcome. Many experience a great deal of anxiety over just how to accomplish these two goals. This article presents a few common sense steps to guide the potential plastic surgery patient.
Since your treatment will be largely controlled by your plastic surgeon, it is essential to evaluate the doctor's training, community standing, and just how his/her practice works. First and foremost is your doctor's personality. He/she should immediately strike you as being open, honest, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. If not, follow your instincts and find someone who is! Your doctor should be able to demonstrate he/she understands your goals and be able to explain to you whether or not they are achievable. You must develop rapport with your doctor.
However, simply liking your doctor is, unfortunately, not enough. You must determine for yourself whether he/she has the ability to deliver the outcome you desire. Since you are in their office, you probably have some general idea of their reputation, but you need to confirm this for yourself Take advantage of time spent in the "reception" area with some of the other patients. Do they seem happy and pleased with their treatment? At some point, most plastic surgeons will show you pictures of their work. You must be able to find a result among those photographs that is pleasing to you. If not, consider another doctor or contemplate not having the surgery at all.
The simplest thing to check is your plastic surgeon's training. Plastic surgery should be performed by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. It really is that simple! If you do not think so, consider the following. Would you go to a plastic surgeon to have your tonsils removed? If not, then why would you go to an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor to have a breast augmentation? The most foolproof way to verify that your physician is Board Certified is to ask to see their certificate issued by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Any reputable plastic surgeon will have the certificate displayed in his/her office for you to see.
Next, you must ascertain whether the medical community feels your doctor is capable of performing the procedures in which you are interested. This is necessary because, in many states (including Texas where 1 practice), it is legal for any doctor to perform any procedure they so choose. This may be hard to believe, but legally 1 can perform brain surgery even though I have no training or experience in performing brain surgery. Likewise, any doctor can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon and perform any procedure he/she wants to perform. Fortunately, there is an easy approach to this problem. Quite simply, your doctor should be able to perform procedures based on their training, education, and experience. All hospitals are required every two years to certify a doctor's competence to perform procedures based on the doctor's training, education, and experience. Hospitals rely on other plastic surgeons on their medical staff to verify your doctor's ability. Therefore, if your plastic surgeon does not have privileges to perform plastic surgery in a hospital, you have substantial reason to question whether he/she is as competent as they should be.
A final assessment of your plastic surgeon should concern what type of practice he/she has. For instance, if they do a hundred facelifts a year but only five liposuctions you might consider them for a facelift but look elsewhere for liposuction. Where and how your doctor performs surgery also matters. If the surgery is performed in the office, the facility should be certified by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) or, even better, certified by Medicare. Otherwise, you might be operated on in a facility that is not up to date and does not possess necessary safety equipment. Additionally, you should inquire about the type of anesthesia you will receive during your surgery. The gold standard is to have anesthesia administered by a Board Certified anesthesiologist, that is a doctor specializing in anesthesia. If you had your knee operated on, your gallbladder removed, or a hernia repaired, you would probably be put to sleep by an anesthesiologist There is really no reason to settle for less simply because your plastic surgery is elective and cosmetic. If you do have a nurse anesthetist, he/she would not he a doctor but a nurse specializing in anesthesia. While a nurse anesthetist can be very experienced, they have less training than an anesthesiologist.
Overall, just be prudent like you would in any major life decision. Try not to be overly impressed by a flashy brochure or a fancy office. Instead, find a plastic surgeon you feel good about, one who is objectively competent and trustworthy.
Paul G. Pin, M.D.
American Board of Plastic Surgery Dallas, Texas
Plastic surgery is real surgery and involves risks such as bleeding, infection, and scarring. Results vary. Dr. Pin will be happy to discuss these and other risks of surgery.