Body or Facial Plastic Surgery?
You have decided to take the next step toward the plastic surgery you have been considering and begin interviewing surgeons. Here is a cheat sheet from a doctor’s perspective to use when choosing a plastic surgeon. We offer a few insider tips that will help you make an educated decision in choosing a plastic surgeon.
Very few of us would select our orthopedic surgeon to remove our child’s tonsils, so we all appreciate that utilizing a specialist is important. A one stop, “fix it all from the neck down” series of procedures, while seemingly convenient, may not be the most prudent choice. Medical training, expertise, and experience vary by specialty. While there are many skilled and excellent general cosmetic surgeons, we strongly recommend a board certified facial plastic surgeon, if you are planning facial plastic surgery.
Education & Training for Plastic Surgeons
What does it take to become a plastic surgeon? First, you must successfully complete the four years of medical school (MD or DO school). After two years of basic science and one year of clinical science, you decide you want to be a surgeon, maybe even a plastic surgeon, and apply for a residency. There are any number of surgical specialties which include facial plastic surgery in their curriculum. General Plastic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Ophthalmology, Oromaxillofacial Surgery, and Dermatology are the most common.
A General Plastic Surgeon, is required to take 3-4 years of General Surgery and then two years of Plastic Surgery focusing on all aspects of this field which include burn surgery, reconstructive surgery of all parts of the body, hand surgery, craniofacial surgery, and finally cosmetic surgery to include breast, body, and face. That is a lot of knowledge and skill to acquire in two years. This is why most surgeons go on to do a fellowship in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery to gain the required skill, experience, and knowledge in this more specific field. A fellowship provides 1-2 additional years of specialty experience.
An Otolaryngology resident undergoes one year of general surgery training and 4-5 years of head and neck surgical training, 25% of which includes facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. Most surgeons desiring to practice facial plastic surgery take an additional fellowship year to focus specifically on this field.
Look at your prospective surgeon’s educational credentials and ask questions. Yes, post education experience is an important factor, but specific educational training provides critical technical expertise.
Consider the Plastic Surgeon’s Credentials
Is your surgeon board certified? If you are considering facial plastic surgery, be sure they are a board certified facial plastic surgeon. To locate a board certified facial plastic surgeon in your area, visit http:www.aafprs.org.
Does your surgeon have hospital privileges? Where?
Did the surgeon complete a fellowship in cosmetic surgery?
Safety & the Operating Facility of the Plastic Surgeon
Your safety and health are the most important factor.
Is the surgical facility AAAASF, AAAHC, JCAHO OR IMQ accredited?
If you are undergoing general anesthesia, who will be administering it? A Board Certified Anesthesiologist or a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthestist?
Post surgery, will there be an RN or MD available on call 24/7?
Experience of the Plastic Surgeon
Ask the surgeon about his experience in the procedure(s) you are considering. Specifically ask the number of these procedures he has completed.
Does the surgeon stay current with advanced techniques?
Does the surgeon have generally positive patient testimonials and reviews?
Aesthetics & Artistry of the Plastic Surgeon
While facial plastic surgery is a medical skill requiring extensive training and expertise, it is also an art form. Aesthetic sensibility and artistry are critical in this field. Be sure the surgeon’s results in this area appeal to you.
Are the surgeon’s results consistent from patient to patient?
Does the surgeon discuss general aesthetics of your facial features, build etc. relative to the considered procedure and desired outcome?
Connection with the Plastic Surgeon
Can you trust this surgeon to be honest with you and frankly communicate realistic outcomes as well as what is safe and right for you vs what you want to hear?
Do you feel comfortable asking questions?
Are you comfortable disclosing your full medical history with this surgeon?
Is the staff friendly and helpful?
Will you receive helpful materials that fully prepare you for the risks and realities of the surgery and the recovery?
Discuss post-operative instructions. Will they be written out?
Ask if the follow-up care after the surgery is included in the price.
Facial plastic surgeries are very common with successful results today. There are inherent risks in any surgical procedure, and you should place careful consideration based on facts, the prospective surgeon’s experience, expertise and artistry in order to achieve your desired outcomes, health, and safety.
Be well and know you are important.