How to choose a properly certified plastic surgeon & plastic surgery facility
The first thing to remember when considering surgery of any kind is that the success of the surgery is completely dependent on the skill of the surgeon. With an overwhelming number of doctors attempting to perform aesthetic procedures, the search for the proper surgeon to perform your cosmetic surgery can be a confusing one. Here we will attempt to shed some light on the cosmetic surgery industry and help you with your search for the proper cosmetic plastic surgeon.
The first thing to check for when evaluating a possible surgeon is certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) certification means that the surgeon has completed undergraduate college, medical school, an approved general surgery residency of at least three years, and an approved plastic surgery residency of an additional two to three years. Board certification then is obtained only after the candidate has been in plastic surgery practice for at least two years and has passed rigorous written and oral examinations administered by experienced plastic surgeons.
Second, remember that in most states, it is legal for any physician who holds a medical license, with or without surgical training, to advertise as a plastic or cosmetic surgeon. The medical profession does not attempt to regulate the type of medicine that a physician practices and as a result there are no laws to confine a physician to only practice the type of medicine or surgery for which he was specifically trained. This lack of regulation means that it is legal for doctors with little or no training in plastic surgery to do cosmetic procedures which pose a significant hazard to unassuming patients.
Third, don’t be confused by other official sounding boards and certifications created by or for these physicians. These organizations have been created to mislead consumers into believing that they are in the hands of physicians who are much more highly qualified than they actually are. The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) for certification of plastic surgeons. And, ABMS is the only board able to provide true plastic surgery recognition. If you have any question about a surgeon’s board certification, do not hesitate to contact ABMS at 1-800-776-2378.
Fourth, check for membership in the professional societies for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. The following organizations are highly respected in the field of plastic surgery:
ASPS, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons:
Only doctors who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) may become members of ASPS. ASPS represents the full scope of plastic surgery (reconstructive and aesthetic). On-going continuing medical education by the physician is a requirement of membership.
ASAPS, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery:
Only doctors who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery may become members of ASAPS. ASAPS members are fully trained in both reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgery, but have a special interest in aesthetic plastic surgery procedures.
Fifth, check the surgeon’s hospital affiliations. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has accredited qualified hospitals. Being appointed to a surgical staff of an accredited hospital indicates that a surgeon’s capabilities and performance have been reviewed and judged acceptable by medical colleagues. Be sure that your surgeon has hospital privileges to perform the specific surgical procedure in which you are interested, even if you plan to have your surgery performed in an office based surgical facility.
Sixth, if you plan to use a physician who has an office-based operating room, be sure that it is accredited. One of the most recognized accreditations is the following:
AAAASF- American Association for the Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities: This organization ensures the safety of independent surgery facilities, checking on things such as emergency readiness, equipment, and cleanliness that are critical to your safety.
Other Operating Room certifications that are qualifying are Medicare and AAAHC.
Seventh, find out who will be administering your anesthesia. We operate at Memorial Herman Southeast Hospital and our patients are under the care and supervision of board certified anesthesiologists. Your comfort and safety are absolutely our number one concern.
Eighth, get to know your surgeon. After you have checked the credentials of a plastic surgeon, you should make an appointment for an initial consultation. This enables you to see the facility and personally meet staff members as well as the surgeon. How you feel about a doctor and his office is a very important part of the surgical experience. During this consultation, the surgeon will examine you, explain the operation and may give you information describing preoperative considerations and postoperative care. You should feel comfortable discussing your expectations and questioning your surgeon on any aspect of the surgery. A qualified and reputable plastic surgeon will be happy to answer your questions and to inform you of the possible risks and side effects associated with surgery. Patients who schedule surgery at the Vitenas Cosmetic Center are given extensive written materials about the entire operative experience. Ask for references and look at pictures of before and after surgical results for the procedure(s) in which you are interested. If a family member or a friend has personally referred you to the practice, so much the better.