How To Choose A Plastic Surgeon
The American Board of Plastic Surgery requires candidates to be qualified according to its set rules prior to taking the board exams. This includes completion of a medical degree, training in general, orthopedic, or otolaryngological surgery followed by a full training program and residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery. The residency is rigorous and includes not only cosmetic surgery, but microvascular and nerve surgery, hand surgery, head and neck surgery, and reconstructive restorative surgery of all parts of the body. The average time to complete qualifications is eleven years. Following this, the candidate must pass a rigorous written examination. It is usual to expect approximately 30% failure rate each year, even in fully trained and qualified candidates. After this the candidate must show competency in performing plastic surgery. He/she must complete at least two years in practice and submit a list of all procedures performed, with photographs before and after surgery. When the list is finally approved, the candidate must sit for and pass a several day oral examination, again with about a 30% failure rate per year. Despite this careful and extensive assurance of complete training and excellence in surgical decision making and performance, there are many groups who perform plastic surgery without plastic surgery board certification, and even without plastic surgery training. The Board of Facial Plastic Surgeons are ENT surgeons, the American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons are dentists, specifically oral maxillofacial surgeons. General surgeons, OB/GYN surgeons, ENT surgeons, Dermatologists and others perform breast augmentation, liposuction and other procedures. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR YOUR SURGEON’S QUALIFICATIONS. No good surgeon will be offended. But be informed about what the answer means, what the various boards represent!
FAMILIARITY WITH THE PROCEDURE
Many of the procedures done today are new and were not included in the training programs of the older surgeons. For an example endoscopic technique only became an integral part of general surgery training about four years ago. There are many new methods of facelift performed today which have evolved in the past couple of years. Laser resurfacing is a new use of the laser and has only recently come into general use. Again DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK. Ask where your surgeon was trained in that particular procedure, and ask how many he/she has done. You can even ask to see pictures before and after the procedure, and talk to a patient to get their perspective.
It is of the utmost importance that you have a good rapport with your surgeon. You must feel that you can communicate well with him/her, that he/she understands your wishes and needs, and that his/her sense of aesthetics matches yours. You are going to put an enormous trust in him/her and should feel absolutely at ease with this. Complications occasionally happen, even in the best hands, and you must feel that this rapport and trust will continue throughout the entire healing process.