Tips for Educating Yourself about Plastic Surgery
There’s no doubt that plastic surgery, in the right context, can do wonderful things for a patient. But this decision should not be taken lightly. As cosmetic as it may be, it’s still a true medical surgery. Complications are rare, but they’re far more likely if the surgeon does not have the right qualifications. That’s why “doing your homework” and educating yourself is so crucial. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Look for the words “board-certified plastic surgeon.” The sad fact is that there are people who perform procedures they aren’t qualified to perform and who try to mislead patients into thinking they are Anyone can call themselves a plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon (and there are even physicians who have education and experience in plastic surgery but haven’t received board certification), so look specifically for someone who is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Some doctors actually hold multiple board certifications, which can mean they have additional knowledge and expertise. For instance, I am board-certified in both plastic surgery and general surgery. Keep in mind, however, that some surgeons may say they are “board certified in cosmetic surgery,” but only “plastic surgery” is officially recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, so a cosmetic surgery board certification does not require the same degree of experience and testing.
- Ask about the credentials of the other providers, too. While finding the right plastic surgeon is important, you’ll probably be relying on other medical personnel too, like nurses, assistants, or anesthesiologists, depending on the extensiveness of your surgery. Be sure to find out who will be involved in your procedure and what their qualifications are.
- Find out about hospital privileges. In order for a physician to operate at a specific hospital, that hospital must review the doctor’s credentials and choose to grant them “privileges” to their facility. Even if you’re seeking a minimally invasive surgery like my Band Aid Mini Facelift, it’s important for your surgeon to have privileges at a nearby hospital so that they can get proper treatment for you if complications arise. It should also be a bit of a red flag if a surgeon has not been granted privileges at any hospitals, because this may mean they don’t have the credentials they need for you to be sure they can treat you safely and effectively.
- Look for membership of professional organizations. Even among board-certified plastic surgeons, some physicians are more skilled and experienced than others. Look for a surgeon who is a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and/or the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Both of these organizations require a surgeon to uphold strict standards in terms of their experience, their success and contributions to the field, and their continuing education to stay up-to-date with the latest medical advancements. A surgeon who has been granted membership into one or both of these organizations is likely to be more highly qualified than a surgeon who is not.
- Use the internet as a resource, but exercise caution. Certain websites can be a great way to learn about the procedure(s) you’re considering, but there’s a lot of misleading information online as well. Primarily, stick with the ASAPS and ASPS websites. If you’ve found a reputable board-certified plastic surgeon, they may have helpful information on their site as well, and it’s also a good idea to check out any before and after photos and patient testimonials they have posted.
- Take your consultation seriously. Your pre-surgical consultation is a vital step in finding both the right surgeon and the right procedure to fit your needs. It can be a good idea to meet with several different plastic surgeons to discuss what approach they would take to your procedure and to determine who you feel most comfortable with, because it’s important to be comfortable enough with your surgeon that you can communicate openly and honestly with them (and they with you). Regardless of how many consultations you complete, be sure to prepare before each one by compiling a list of specific questions to ask.
Being knowledgeable about your procedure can be a helpful way to know what to expect, but at a certain point, you must also be able to trust your surgeon as well as their recommendations and instructions. Knowing how to thoroughly evaluate your plastic surgeon’s background and the work they do enables you to feel confident about your choice and helps you build this crucial trust. If you’re ready to get started on your journey toward a more confident and beautiful you, schedule a consultation with me, Dr. John L. LeRoy. Or, for more cosmetic surgery tips, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
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