Guidelines for Patients – How to Find the “Right” Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon:
Check for Board-Certification in Plastic Surgery: A doctor’s board-certification is the best indicator of his or her training in a particular medical or surgical specialty. Look for certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), the only Board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to certify doctors in the specialty of plastic surgery. The ABPS is not to be confused with the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery which is NOT recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).
Some “medical spas” and clinics advertise that their physicians are “board certified” but they stop short of mentioning the specialty they are boarded in. It may turn out that they are board certified in OB-GYN or family medicine. You wouldn’t want to have your baby delivered by a plastic surgeon so why would you go to an OB-GYN to perform your plastic surgery?
Check for ASAPS (American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) Membership: ASAPS membership ensures that a doctor not only is ABPS-certified (or, in Canada, certified in plastic surgery by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.) but also has significant experience in cosmetic surgery. ASAPS membership is by invitation only. To ensure that the doctor is a member, visit the ASAPS website (www.surgery.org) and click on the “find a plastic surgeon” tab
Check California Medical License Status: Look for your surgeon’s information in the Medical Board of California website, http://www.mbc.ca.gov/. You can get useful information about your surgeon in this website including: history of disciplinary actions, malpractice judgements or settlements, probation or convictions etc..
Check Facility Accreditation: Cosmetic surgery can be safely performed in a hospital, an outpatient surgery center or an office-based surgical facility: Current published data show that accredited office-based facilities have a safety record comparable to that of hospital ambulatory surgery settings. However, the majority of office-based surgical facilities are not accredited. To ensure your safety, make sure your procedure is being done in a duly accredited surgical facility. Another advantage of selecting an ASAPS member is that all ASAPS surgeons operate in accredited, state-licensed or Medicare-certified facilities.
Check Hospital Privileges: Before granting operating privileges, hospital review committees evaluate a surgeon’s training and competency for specific procedures. Wherever the surgery will be performed, be sure that the surgeon has operating privileges in an accredited hospital for the same procedure being considered.
Check Reliable Sources: Asking a patient’s primary care doctor for recommendations is a good place to start, and friends may offer suggestions; but the surgeon’s board-certification should always be verified independently by contacting the American Board of Plastic Surgery (www.abplsurg.org). Free referral information to board-certified plastic surgeons with significant experience in cosmetic surgery can be found on Find-a-Surgeon. The ASAPS website www.surgery.org also offers extensive information about cosmetic surgical procedures.
Check Thoroughness: The consultation is an important opportunity to meet your surgeon andyou’re your questions to be asked and answered. It should include a frank discussion about the risks as well as benefits of the surgery. A thorough consultation also involves a review of your medical & surgical history including any pre-existing medical conditions. All these factors help the surgeon to customize the operation to best meet the needs of each patient. Insist that you meet the surgeon performing your procedure during your consultation. It is important that you feel comfortable and at ease with your plastic surgeon since you are putting your life on his/her hands.
Check Rapport: Even the most experienced surgeon may not be the “right” surgeon for every patient. Any successful relationship depends on good communication. Patient satisfaction is enhanced when surgeon and patient candidly discuss goals, agree on realistic expectations, and plan the course of the surgical journey together.
Check Experience: Experienced aesthetic plastic surgeons generally perform a wide range of cosmetic surgeries on a regular basis. Patients should ask about the surgeon’s experience with the particular procedure being considered. When considering a “new” technique or technology, patients should inquire whether results substantiating safety and effectiveness have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Check Follow-up Care: Good surgical care does not end with the surgery. Patients should inquire about follow-up visits and about the doctor’s policies should surgical revisions be necessary.
Check Cost: National averages for surgeons’ fees can be found in the ASAPS website www.surgery.org under the “newsroom” tab. Keep in mind that costs may vary considerably depending on geographic region, surgeon experience and individual patient factors. The fees shown do not include the cost of implants, facility fee, anesthesia fee and other associated costs of surgery. Not all patients can be treated with the same technique. The complexity and length of surgery affect cost. Patients should note that cosmetic surgery is not covered by insurance.
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