How to choose a properly certified plastic surgeon & plastic surgery facility.
The success of any plastic surgery procedure is dependent upon the skill of the surgeon. Knowing this, the simple process of choosing a plastic surgeon can turn into a difficult and time-consuming task. Even if you know the exact results that you are hoping to achieve, you may feel conflicted on who the best person is to turn to. The vast amount of online information and the mindboggling number of doctors who are ready to cash in on these hot trends lead to confusion. To get you off to a good start in your search for a proper cosmetic plastic surgeon, Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery will attempt to shed some light on the cosmetic surgery industry by breaking down the seven vital questions to ask when looking at a potential doctor and operating facility.
Is your potential surgeon board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery(ABPS)?
Board certification by the ABPS tells you right away that the surgeon has completed his/her degrees from an accredited undergraduate college and medical school, finished an approved general surgery residency of at least three years, and a qualified plastic surgery residency of an additional two to three years. After the candidate has been with a plastic surgery practice for at least two years, they must then pass a rigorous written and oral examination to earn their board certification. To maintain their certification, the surgeon will have to continue to complete annual continuing education credits, pass recertification exams, and maintain the highest level of patient care. While not every plastic surgeon can boast board certification, you should only move forward with someone who has.
Dr. Vitenas is board certified by the ABPS, with over 30 years of experience. A graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Dr. Vitenas completed his General Surgery Residency and Plastic Surgery Residency at the Tulane University School of Medicine:
Is your doctor trained in plastic surgery (not dentistry or gynecology)?
In most states, including Texas, it is legal for any physician who holds a medical license to advertise and practice as a plastic or cosmetic surgeon. The medical profession does not regulate the type of medicine that a licensed physician can practice and there are no laws saying that a doctor must stick to the field they were trained in. This lack of regulation means that it is legal for doctors to ‘specialize’ in whatever they want with little to no actual training.
Plastic surgery is one of today’s most desirable specialties. As aesthetic procedures continue to grow in popularity, many doctors are switching into the field to reap the profits. Gynecologists, dentists, and ENT physicians are performing cosmetic procedures, passing themselves off as experienced in the field. This can pose a significant health hazard to unassuming patients. Do not be fooled by a smooth-talking physician or a well put together website, check your potential surgeon’s credentials and board certification before moving forward.
Dr. Vitenas has decades of experience with cosmetic and reconstructive procedures for the face and body. His extensive training in plastic and cosmetic surgery includes a competitive Craniofacial and Cosmetic Surgery Fellowship at the Clinic Belvedere and Hospital Necker in Paris, France, as well as an Orthognathic Surgery Fellowship from Louisiana State Medical Center.
Does your surgeon hold any other board certifications?
Not all board certifications are created equal. Some obscure titles can give doctors a chance to claim ‘board certification’, hoping that the consumer will assume it is approved by the APBS. In fact, some of these certifying organizations have been created to mislead consumers, who think they are putting their appearance in the hands of a highly qualified physician. Remember: the ABPS is the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties(ABMS). 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 the ABMS at 1-800-776-2378.
Does your doctor have an active membership in any professional societies?
There are many highly respected organizations and professional societies that provide surgeons with opportunities for continuing education and keep them abreast of data from current scientific investigations. The following organizations are highly respected in the field of plastic surgery:
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS):
Only doctors who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) may become members of ASPS, which represents the full scope of plastic surgery (reconstructive and aesthetic) providers. On-going continuing medical education by the physician is a requirement of membership.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS):
Surgeons must be certified by the ABPS to become members of ASAPS. While ASAPS members are fully trained in both reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgery, they hold a special interest in aesthetic plastic surgery procedures.
In addition to his ABPS board certification, Dr. Vitenas is a member of The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the American Cleft Palate-Cranio-facial Association, is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and holds an active membership in numerous state & local plastic surgery and medical societies.
Is your surgeon affiliated with a respected, local hospital?
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations(JCAHO) grants accreditation to qualifying 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. Consider it a red flag when a potential surgeon is not affiliated with a respected hospital, as their past procedures may be considered sub-par.
Dr. Vitenas carries hospital privileges at several Houston-area facilities, including Memorial Hermann Hospital. However, to ensure the very best patient care and convenience, Dr. Vitenas uses his own operating suites to perform his procedures.
If your surgeon uses an office-based operating room, is it accredited?
The most recognized accreditation for an independent surgical center is the American Association for the Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF). This organization ensures that the independent surgery facility is safe, checking on things such as emergency readiness, equipment, and cleanliness that are critical to your wellbeing. Other qualifying operating room certifications are Medicare and the American Association of Accredited Health-Care (AAAHC).
Dr. Vitenas performs all of his procedures at the Houston Surgery Center, located in the Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery building. This private facility consists of two state-of-the-art operating suites, and three technologically advanced recovery bays. Fully accredited by the AAAASF, the Houston Surgery Center is a safe and comfortable environment for your surgical procedure, ensuring you get the most satisfying results without the unnecessary risk for side effects.
Does your surgeon use a board-certified anesthesiologist?
Ask who will be administering the anesthesia during your surgery. Any invasive technique that requires general anesthesia should be monitored by a board-certified anesthesiologist, holding certification from the American Board of Anesthesiology.
Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery and the Houston Surgery Center are committed to your safety, with a board-certified anesthesiologist on staff, overseeing every surgical procedure.
The time has come to get to know your surgeon better with an in-person consultation appointment.
After you have thoroughly checked out all of your potential surgeon’s credentials, the time will come to schedule a consultation appointment. This will give you a chance 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 perform a physical examination, explain the desired operation and provide information describing preoperative considerations and postoperative care. You should feel comfortable discussing your expectations and questioning your surgeon on any aspect of the treatment plan. 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.
Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery provides consultations for all new patients. Patients who schedule surgery at the Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery Center will receive extensive written materials about the entire operative experience. You will have the chance to look at before and after photographs that show off the surgeon’s recent outcomes with the technique and similar patients. The exact price of your desired procedure will be detailed, as well as all of your payment options. This initial appointment with Dr. Vitenas can be scheduled in-person, or for those outside of the Houston-area, may be arranged online. Speak with a Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery patient coordinator to find out how to schedule your initial consultation.
If you keep these seven questions about board certification in mind when speaking to potential surgeons, you will be well on your way to making the best choice for a safe and successful cosmetic surgery experience. For more assistance in finding a qualified plastic surgeon in your area, contact the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).