You may have heard that it’s important to do your research and insure that your surgeon is qualified before undergoing a plastic surgery procedure. While that’s sound advice, it can sometimes be challenging to sift through the information you’re getting to insure that you’re doing your homework properly. Here are five areas where not asking the right questions can result in answers that could be confusing.
Ask your surgeon if he or she is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Follow up by asking if they are a member of ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons), which requires its members be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
The one can be tricky. Anyone with an M.D. can claim they are a plastic or cosmetic surgeon. That means a pediatrician, family doctor or a gynecologist. They often can also claim board-certification, because they are board-certified in their specialty. If these the two statements are made in conjunction with one another, it can sound like they are saying they are “certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.” Also, there is an American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, which is not the same as the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Your surgeon should be able to state that he or she is “certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery” and a “member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons” and he or she should be able to show you their certification.
Ask how many of the procedures they have performed.
This will help ferret out surgeons that have recently gotten into plastic surgery as a way to offset decreasing insurance payouts. Because plastic surgery is often paid for directly by patients, many doctors from other specialties have recently gotten into the “plastic surgery business.” Make sure to not only ask about plastic surgery procedures in general, but to ask about the specific procedure you are considering.
Does your surgeon have hospital privileges?
This means the surgeon has the right to do surgery at a hospital. Because hospitals vet surgeons carefully, this is another assurance that your doctor has the proper credentials to perform plastic surgery. If your doctor says “yes,” ask which hospital(s) and contact the hospital to verify.
Is your surgical facility accredited by a national or state accrediting agency?
Some surgeons perform certain procedures in their office or a private clinic. Remember that plastic surgery, while becoming increasingly common, is still major surgery. If these facilities are accredited, it means they have the necessary equipment and staff to handle an emergency in the rare event that something goes wrong.
Do you have patients that I can talk with and before and after photos that I can look at?
Just as with any professional, your doctor should be able to provide references and show results of his or her work. Don’t hesitate to ask for this information while you’re doing your research.
Remember, plastic surgery is a very personal decision, and it is important that you be completely comfortable with your physician. After all, you are putting your physical aesthetic, and possibly your life, in their hands. You may find a doctor that meets all the qualifications, but with whom you are simply not comfortable. Keep looking. The relationship between patient and doctor is a close and personal one, and you need to be comfortable.
To view a recent PSA announcement from the ASPS by clicking here.