Whether you’re interested in a face-lift, cosmetic nose surgery, liposuction, reconstructive surgery following mastectomy or some other procedure, there’s a plastic surgeon for that. The right surgeon will have the skills and experience to do safe, aesthetically pleasing work. On the flip side, the wrong surgeon could cause you harm.
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Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Graham Schwarz, MD, goes over the five things you should look for when you’re selecting a plastic surgeon:
1. Look for a surgeon who is board-certified
When shopping around for a plastic surgeon, look for someone who has become board-certified in plastic surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
“This means the surgeon has had at least six years of surgical training with two or three years devoted specifically to plastic surgery, has passed rigorous oral and written examinations and has demonstrated safe and ethical surgical practice,” says Dr. Schwarz.
Plastic surgery is viewed as an art form in the medical world and doing your homework can be the difference between getting the results you want and being unsatisfied with the work.
2. Makes sure the surgeon’s operating facility is accredited
Plastic surgery is often performed in an ambulatory care center or the surgeon’s office-based surgical facility. Either way, you want to make sure the facility is properly accredited, just like making sure the surgeon is board certified. Accreditation ensures that strict standards are met for proper equipment, safety, surgeon credentials and staffing.
But how can you tell that a facility is accredited? Look for these accreditations:
- Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC).
- American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF).
- Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO).
Accredited facilities are required to have less than half of 1% of serious complications and an extremely low mortality rate of less than one in 57,000. When you choose an accredited facility, you’re also choosing to receive the best quality care available.
3. Your surgeon should ask you questions
Surgeons are doctors who should be treating you holistically. They should take into account your medical history even if you’re seeking a cosmetic procedure.
“Whether it’s cosmetic surgery or reconstructive surgery, if the surgeon isn’t asking you about your medical history and taking that into account when discussing potential treatment options, it should be a red flag that they’re not being thorough,” says Dr. Schwarz.
4. The surgeon shouldn’t oversell additional services
If a surgeon is trying to oversell – suggesting procedures you didn’t ask for or procedures with benefits you can’t understand after an explanation – then that’s a red flag.
Some procedures may complement or enhance other procedures, such as cosmetic nose surgery (rhinoplasty) and chin augmentation. However, if you’re asking about rhinoplasty and the surgeon is talking about liposuction of your thighs, then you may want to find another surgeon who will better listen to and address your needs.
“Ideally, you want to find a surgeon who will work with you to define your goals and provide you with realistic expectations for your cosmetic or reconstructive surgery,” says Dr. Schwarz.
5. You should relate to and feel comfortable with your surgeon
You should feel a partnership between you and the surgeon. While complications are not common, you should feel comfortable that, if something unexpected arises, this surgeon will take care of you. You may not want to move forward if you don’t feel a high degree of trust.
Be prepared to ask yourself questions like:
- Do I feel comfortable telling this surgeon my fears or asking questions about my procedure?
- Do I trust this surgeon to give me safe recommendations tailored to me?
- Do I feel a connection with this surgeon?
- Do I feel comfortable that this surgeon will take care of me in case something happens?
- Is the rest of his staff accommodating, helpful and friendly?
- Do I trust this surgeon to give me a full explanation of the procedure and post-procedure?
- Does this surgeon have experience in the procedure i’m asking for?
With careful research and an understanding of your own wants and needs, you’ll be prepared to find the right plastic surgeon for you.