About Plastic Surgery Credentials

You have an interest in plastic surgery and you’ve probably researched it – but what you’ve found is that there is so much information out there, it’s hard to decide what’s important. There are lots of physicians and even non-physicians performing cosmetic procedures. Some of them do good work – some do not. But when it comes to deciding who is going to operate on YOU, you need to be sure it’s someone who is qualified and properly trained. We’ve provided some information here about how to evaluate your cosmetic surgeon.

What Everyone Needs to Know about Plastic Surgery Credentials

Consumer demand for cosmetic surgery is steadily increasing. Also increasing are the number of physicians marketing themselves as cosmetic surgical specialists and public concerns about cosmetic surgery safety.

Currently, any licensed doctor is legally allowed to perform cosmetic surgical procedures. The increase in the number of physicians without plastic surgical training who are performing cosmetic procedures largely correlates with the advent of managed care and the consequent decrease in physician income. Cosmetic surgery — which is self-paid by the patient and outside the control of managed care — is viewed by some physicians as a way to recover lost income from their original choice of practice.

Why Select a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon?

Plastic surgeons are trained to perform surgery. It may sound obvious, but many people don’t realize that only some of the 24 medical specialties recognized by The American Board of Medical Specialties include surgical training. Plastic surgery is a surgical specialty.

Plastic surgeons are experts in both facial and body procedures. Board-certified plastic surgeons complete a minimum of five years of surgical training following medical school, including a plastic surgery residency program. In-depth training encompasses surgical procedures of the face and the entire body.

Plastic surgeons are trained to prevent and, if necessary, handle emergencies. A comprehensive education, including a sound foundation in anatomy and physiology, provides plastic surgeons with an understanding of all body systems-including ventilation, circulation, fluid and electrolyte balance-which is vitally important to patient safety.

Plastic surgeons’ training develops technical skill and aesthetic judgment. Experience gained during years of training in complex reconstructive surgery provides plastic surgeons with outstanding technical skills. Additionally, however, the continuous attention to form as well as function provides these specialists with a finely tuned sense of aesthetics-a unique qualification that is critical to the success of cosmetic surgery where judgments of balance and proportion are called upon.

Plastic surgeons have access to a wide range of potential treatments. Of all the different medical specialists, plastic surgeons have the training to offer their patients the entire scope of cosmetic treatment modalities. Their recommendations are not limited by lack of training or inability to obtain hospital privileges to perform complex procedures when necessary.

State laws permit any licensed physician to call him- or herself a “plastic” or cosmetic surgeon-even if he or she has not been trained as a plastic surgeon or has had no surgical training at all. Prospective patients must select their doctor carefully.

What to Consider When Selecting a Plastic Surgeon

Recommendations from friends and family doctors are a good start in finding a plastic surgeon. Talking to satisfied patients with good results is one way to obtain a recommendation for a qualified surgeon. However, keep in mind that every individual is unique and that someone else’s surgery may have involved a different “starting point” and different procedures. Don’t expect to have the exact same result. Family doctors’ knowledge about cosmetic surgery and plastic surgeons in the community varies. Listen to your family doctor’s advice, but continue to gather information on your own.

Don’t be surprised if there are differences of opinion. Consultation with more than one surgeon often is advantageous; however, recommendations may vary. Every surgeon has his or her own preferences for surgical techniques. Choose the surgeon with whom you feel most comfortable and whose recommendations reflect your own best judgment. Don’t be pressured into a procedure you do not want or are not ready to undergo for any reason.

Being quoted in a popular magazine is not a guarantee of a surgeon’s qualifications. Plastic surgeons are frequently interviewed by the media. Some serve as spokespersons for reputable professional organizations, and others have public relations representatives who are hired to obtain print or broadcast exposure. A doctor appearing in the media may be an excellent and reputable physician, but do your own research; don’t make assumptions.

Cosmetic surgery is surgery; read physician advertisements with a critical eye. Be careful of advertisements that promise painless or easy surgery, guarantee unrealistic results, or use language intended to persuade or mislead prospective patients. Appropriate advertisements will state a surgeon’s credentials, including board certification and the name of the certifying board. Never select a plastic surgeon based on advertising alone.

Please feel free to call our office at 615-327-0201 and ask to speak with one of our patient counselors about the procedure, costs and financing options.