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Choosing a plastic surgeon
How to choose a plastic surgeon? Let's start from this. In most of the states, any licensed conventional medicine doctor may carry out any surgery that he or she is skilled to perform. The law does not ban doctors from performing procedures that were not part of their official education. There are good reasons for this, but patients have to cautiously investigate how a particular surgeon received training in a particular procedure. There are a number of ways plastic surgeon can learn to perform a particular surgery. Your physician could have been trained in a procedure as part of the formal training during a residency or a fellowship. Or he could have been taught a procedure informally after completing formal training from organizations that specialize in training doctors to perform particular procedures. In addition to that, physicians can learn new procedures by being trained by other physicians. In any case, physicians can become highly capable and experienced in performing a particular plastic surgery procedure. When choosing a plastic surgeon, we recommend that you find out the answers to the questions below:
- In which states is he or she licensed to practice plastic surgery? Note that some state medical licencing boards provide information on disciplinary action and malpractice claims/settlements to prospective patients either by request or on the internet. Find your state medical board here.
- Is your cosmetic surgeon board certified, and if so, with which board? In particular is he or she certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties? American Board of Plastic Surgery certification is designed to assure the public that a medical specialist has successfully completed an approved educational program and an evaluation, including a secure examination designed to assess the knowledge, experience, and skills requisite to the provision of high quality patient care.
- How many breast augmentation, breast reconstruction, or revision surgeries does he or she perform per year?
- How many years has he or she performed breast implantation surgeries?
- What are the most common complications he or she encounters with patients after breast implantation?
- What is his or her reoperation rate with breast implants and what is the most common type of reoperation he or she performs?
- Does the doctor have life-saving equipment and monitoring devices?
- Who administers the anesthesia? Ideally, this person is a board certified anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist.
- Check if your plastic surgeon is a member of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (ASPRS). Members of ASPRS must complete at least 5 years of surgical training and be in practice for 2 or more years.
- You could also check if your plastic surgeon is a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Surgery (ASAPS). Members of ASAPS must be in practice for 8 or more years, are board certified, and approved by their peers. To check your doctor's ASAPS membership go to www.surgery.org or call 1-888-ASAPS-11.
When you have answers to these questions, you will have a better idea of the technical qualifications of your cosmetic surgeon. Remember, selecting a qualified doctor, with a lot of training and experience in the procedure you would like to get, is essential.