How to “Qualify” Your Plastic Surgeon

Patients and potential patients are continually cautioned to “do your due diligence,” to insure a plastic or cosmetic surgeon is qualified to perform the procedure you are considering. One thing to keep in mind is that, although the terms are used interchangeably, there is a difference between a cosmetic procedure and plastic surgery. The term plastic surgery encompasses both cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries. Additionally, there are many cosmetic procedures that do not involve surgery (i.e. injectibles, fillers, etc).

Whatever procedure you are considering, make sure that the doctor(s) you are evaluating are:

  • Board certified
  • Qualified and experienced in the procedure you are considering
  • A good fit with your personality

Board Certification

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the primary certification organization for plastic and cosmetic surgeons. Surgeons who are “board certified” by the ASPS must:

  • Have a minimum of six years of surgical training in plastic surgery
  • Complete extensive oral and written examinations
  • Pursue 50 hours a year of continuing education
  • Operate only in an accredited facility (like a hospital)
  • Adhere to a strict code of ethics

Remember, plastic surgery is major surgery. Liposuction, face lifts, tummy tucks and breast augmentation require incisions and healing, and while side effects are not common, they can and do occur. Make sure the surgeon you are working with knows what to watch for, and what to do. This is also why your doctor will stress follow up examinations.

Even common procedures such as peels, injectables and fillers must be administered by an experienced individual. While they are not “surgery,” some of them are aggressive procedures that require the oversight of a doctor in the unlikely event of a complication.

Qualified and Experienced

Make sure that the plastic surgeon you are considering has experience. In addition to the number of similar surgeries performed, a good indication of experience is whether your surgeon has undergone a Fellowship or Fellowships in the surgery. For example, Dr. Ali has completed Fellowships in reconstructive and aesthetic breast surgery, trauma and micro surgery and pediatric plastic surgery. Additionally, he has completed a residency in plastic surgery and an internship in general surgery.

Just Ask

Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for references. And, don’t be afraid to ask questions. And keep asking until you are satisfied that the surgeon is a good fit with your personality. While this is a less concrete consideration, you need to feel comfortable with your doctor. You are putting your well-being and, really, your sense of self into his or her hands, and you need to feel like their vision is similar to yours and that they are truly looking out for your best interests.

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