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If you’re considering plastic surgery, you may find it one of the most life-changing decisions you’ll ever make.
As with any medical procedure, you’ll, of course, want to make sure you’re in the hands of a qualified professional.
However, with plastic surgery, the stakes can be even higher, given your self-image and esteem are also at hand.
An unskilled provider — and there are many out there — can cause irreversible damage, both aesthetically and emotionally.
In short, choosing the right specialist is paramount to the success of your cosmetic journey.
Here are a few things you should look out for when reviewing a plastic surgeon’s credentials so you can be confident your surgery results in the best possible outcome.
It’s easy to assume that if someone is offering cosmetic surgery services, it must mean they’re qualified to do so.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Although the person you’re dealing may very well be a doctor, he or she may not be specifically trained in plastic surgery.
Because plastic surgery is a lucrative business, some surgeons offer cosmetic procedures in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.
While these doctors might be skilled when it comes to their respective specialties, their actual training could be nothing more than a brief seminar.
In such cases, board certification is often what distinguishes a cosmetic surgeon from a plastic surgeon.
Board-certified plastic surgeons are required to undergo years of rigorous, hands-on training, and must complete a 6-year residency in plastic surgery before being accredited.
In order to be certain that you are in the hands of a fully qualified professional, be sure that your doctor has been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), an organization that was created to help patients distinguish between qualified and unqualified plastic surgeons.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the top professional organization in this regard, comprising 94% of all board-certified plastic surgeons.
When you see that a surgeon is certified by the ASPS, you know that they have years of surgical training behind them and are qualified to perform plastic surgery on any part of the body.
Other certifications indicate specialty areas.
As the name implies, members of The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) specialize in aesthetic procedures on the face, breasts, and body.
Members of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) are generally trained in the face, head, and neck surgery.
That being said, in some cases minimally invasive procedures can also be performed by professionals who haven’t trained in plastic surgery.
For example, doctors certified by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD) are often qualified to perform skin treatments such as laser toning and Botox.
Aesthetics and Area of Expertise
Once you’ve done your research and found a surgeon who has been certified by a legitimate professional organization, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she is the right medical provider for the specific procedure you’re interested in — you also need to consider the surgeon’s experience performing the specific procedure you’re seeking.
To get a better picture of the plastic surgeon’s qualifications and area of expertise, you should first take a close look at their website, which should mention the surgeon’s specializations and which procedures the clinic is best known for.
This will help you decide if you should schedule a consultation.
Once you’ve found a doctor you feel good about, at your initial consultation you should inquire about how many years they have been performing the procedure, and how many times they have done it.
Another factor you need to consider is whether or not your aesthetic goals are aligned with the surgeon’s approach.
A plastic surgeon may be perfectly qualified and experienced in your procedure, but if their definition of attractiveness is different from yours, you could find yourself unhappy with the end result.
Think of aesthetic sensibilities in terms of artistic vision — if your sensibilities don’t coincide with your surgeons, then communication about the work you want to be done will be more difficult and you might walk away with a different end result than expected.
To get an idea of the aesthetic sensibility of a plastic surgeon, check out their before and after photos online.
You can also request more photos during your consultation — the provider should have multiple already on hand.
The photos should be of people with similar features to yours and at multiple angles so you can get a better idea of how the procedure might turn out on you and if you’ll like the results.
You should also check for consistency in results — this can give you a much better idea of whether to expect a similar outcome.
Demeanor and Bedside Manner
Since a plastic surgeon is a person that you are trusting with such an important decision in your life, you should be able to get along with and trust them on a personal level as well.
Beginning with the first consultation and each subsequent interaction with your provider, take stock of how he or she makes you feel.
Does their demeanor make you feel comfortable?
Do you get the feeling this surgeon knows what they’re doing and is willing to listen to your input?
Do you feel comfortable enough to ask him or her questions no matter how small or petty they might seem?
After all, if you don’t feel comfortable enough to ask your surgeon certain questions, is this really somebody you want to trust with such an important medical procedure?
The bottom line is that you want a plastic surgeon with whom you have a good connection.
When the lines of communication are open, you can express any doubts or confusion you might have so your provider can explain the situation and ideally put your mind at ease.
When you trust each other’s input, your provider will listen to what you have to say and be able to guide you toward the best process to suit your needs.
Facilities and Customer Care
On top of considering the actual plastic surgeon, you should also take note of their facilities and the interactions you have with their customer service.
Signs of a well-run and qualified office include staff that gets back to you promptly, being treated courteously and professionally at every stage, being provided with written materials detailing the procedure, the recovery time and possible risks involved, and being up-front with respect to how much the procedure costs and what the price includes.
As a potential patient, you deserve to not only be treated well but also fully informed about your chosen procedure.
You should also be mindful of the facilities themselves, as this can determine the safety of your procedure.
Ask where the surgery will be performed and if it is a certified facility.
Inquire as to what equipment the surgeon will be using, and if it’s standard for the procedure you will be undergoing.
If it requires anesthesia, you can ask which medication will be used and verify the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist’s credentials.
Don’t be afraid of asking too many questions.
A professional plastic surgery provider will be more than happy to share this information.
There is no such thing as too many questions when it involves your safety before, during, and after plastic surgery.
While cost may or may not be the determining factor for you, you still want to make sure you’re getting a quality procedure at the most affordable price.
It can be uncomfortable for some people to bring up prices, but don’t be nervous about discussing cost right from the start, and make sure to get your quote in writing.
You should also be sure that you understand everything that the price covers so you aren’t surprised by any hidden fees along the way.
Most insurance companies won’t cover plastic surgery deemed as a cosmetic procedure, so you will likely be responsible for the entire cost of your operation.
The clinic should also be willing to discuss payment options with you — most offer plans paid in monthly installments.
The price as compared to other providers can also give you insight into the expertise of the plastic surgeon and the quality of his or her facilities.
It’s always a good idea to be cautious if the price seems too low.
If it seems too good to be true, it very likely is, though a low price doesn’t always have to be an indicator of poor quality service.
Conversely, the highest price you are quoted doesn’t necessarily mean that provider is the best in the business.
This surgeon may well, in fact, be counting on you to make that assumption and inflated their prices accordingly.
One final consideration is if you can get any personal recommendations for a specific provider or clinic in general.
A personal recommendation may not help you determine if the plastic surgeon is a good match for your personality, your desired procedure, or your aesthetic goals, but a recommendation from someone you know and trust who has had experience with the provider can give you considerable insight into the plastic surgeon’s bedside matter, the cost of the procedure, and the state of their facilities.
Furthermore, a referral from your regular medical provider can also get you on the right track when searching for a board-certified, experienced plastic surgeon you will feel good about.
Questions You Should Ask Any Potential Plastic Surgeon
As mentioned before, you should arrive at your first consultations with questions for the plastic surgeon.
It’s important to write these questions down beforehand so you don’t forget to ask them during your appointment.
Some essential questions to start with include:
- Are you board-certified? If so, with which organization or professional body?
- What is your specific area of expertise?
- How much experience do you have with the procedure that I want? How much training have you received in it and approximately how many such procedures have you performed to date?
- Can you show me before and after photos of patients you have performed the procedure on?
- What exactly does the procedure entail? What can I expect during recovery?
- Where will the surgery be performed? Is it a certified facility?
- Will this procedure require anesthesia? Who administers the anesthesia and what are their credentials?
- How much does this procedure cost and what exactly is included in the price?
That being said, the plastic surgeon isn’t the only person you should be questioning.
After the consultation, you should also ask yourself some questions in order to help decide if the plastic surgeon you’re considering is the right doctor for you.
Some good questions to ask yourself include:
- Does the plastic surgeon’s aesthetic sensibility match with my own?
- Did I get along with the doctor as a person?
- Did they pay attention to my medical history and address all of my concerns?
- Did I feel comfortable asking questions?
- Was the clinic clean and the staff professional and informative?
- Did I feel like the provider listened to me and what I want from the procedure?
- Did I feel any pressure to commit to a procedure right away?
As you can see, there are many factors at play when searching for the right plastic surgeon.
Not only should you consider the qualifications of both the provider and the facilities, you also have to consider more interpersonal factors such as aesthetic goals and bedside manner.
Having high standards can make it take longer to find the right provider, but when you see the final result of your surgery you’ll be grateful you spent the time and energy seeking out the right, qualified doctor for you.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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