Choosing a qualified plastic surgeon is a very important decision. There is a lot of hype surrounding the cosmetic surgery field, so much so it can feel like information overload.
While some of this information is truthful and informative, there are also many misconceptions and biases. For example, when something goes wrong with cosmetic surgery for a celebrity, it grabs more publicity than a procedure that went without a hitch. It’s just one of many reasons selecting and following through with a procedure is easier said than done for many people.
The terms plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery are commonly used interchangeably, although there are distinctions. The word plastic is from the Greek word Plastikos which means to reshape. There is no “plastic” in plastic surgery. Plastic surgery can either be for cosmetic reasons, such as facelifts, breast augmentations, and liposuction, or for reconstructive reasons such as breast cancer reconstruction, burn reconstruction, hand surgery, and congenital anomalies.
When properly performed, cosmetic surgical procedures are safe and effective. However, there are risks involved with any procedure, and being treated by a qualified physician doesn’t guarantee that everything will turn out as planned. The problem is that there are many people performing cosmetic procedures who are not qualified.
Caveat Emptor-Let the Buyer Beware
In this day and age, people make lots of claims surrounding cosmetic procedures however, few of them can back them up.
Physicians advertise that they are “board-certified” to qualify themselves as experts. But what does “board certified” mean? There are 24 medical specialties recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, one of which is plastic surgery. In order to be a member of one of these specialty boards, the physician has to have been board-certified in this specialty. This means the physician completed a residency in that specialty and passed written and oral exams given by the respective board.
Physicians who call themselves “cosmetic surgeons” are often not plastic surgeons. They are not board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Many are “board-certified” by organizations that promote themselves as cosmetic surgeons, but have little training. They may take a weekend course such as the one I saw advertised recently. It was a course offered by the International Society of Cosmetogynecology on Cosmetic Breast Surgery. I would be skeptical of having a breast augmentation done by someone who took a weekend course in the procedure, yet legally there is no restriction keeping them from performing this procedure.
Many practitioners operate out of their office suite because they don’t have hospital privileges. Many do not even carry malpractice insurance.
When making an educated decision as to who to choose, ask about board certifications, where they operate, if they have hospital privileges, and if you can see before and after pictures of their results. Ask your own physician if they know about the doctor you are planning to see. You can also research through your state medical board to see if there is any disciplinary action against the practitioner.
Cosmetic surgery can help you feel better about yourself, renew your confidence, and improve your life. So make a well-informed, educated decision when you choose your plastic surgeon.