Choosing your Plastic Surgeon
Article by Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
Choosing a plastic surgeon is an important, life-altering decision. It is vital to your safety and the success of your cosmetic surgery that the surgeon you choose has the right qualifications, ample experience, and documented results of his or her work.
Not all surgeons who perform cosmetic surgery are trained equally, and any doctor with a valid medical license—regardless of the length and type of training he or she has—can perform cosmetic surgery.
As the demand for plastic surgery continues to increase each year, this fact becomes more alarming. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the foremost authority on plastic surgery, more than 10.2 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures were performed in the United States in 2005, up 11 percent from 2004.
It is very important that you choose a qualified and highly experienced plastic surgeon to perform your cosmetic surgery. If there are any complications during surgery, an experienced plastic surgeon will be more adept at handling the situation. In addition, a plastic surgeon that has performed many cosmetic surgeries will have had more time to perfect his or her technique and results.
Tips for Choosing a Plastic Surgeon
There are several guidelines to follow in order to ensure that you choose one of the finest plastic surgeons in your area:
• You need your plastic surgeon to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This certification is an indication that the surgeon has had extra training in the field of aesthetic plastic surgery. This also ensures that the plastic surgeon has earned his or her degree from a reputable medical school and has completed five years of additional residency.
• Reputable plastic surgeons should have privileges to perform cosmetic surgery procedures at an accredited hospital – not just in the surgery center in their office.
• Ask your plastic surgeon to show you before-and-after photos of patients who have undergone cosmetic surgery and ask to speak with some of their patients.
• Good doctors will ensure realistic expectations and take the time to address your concerns. They will encourage you to do your homework, talk to other patients, and make an informed choice.
• Be skeptical of super saver deals advertised in newspapers and magazines. Most plastic surgeons charge comparable rates and rarely offer "deals." Don't compromise quality care and your safety just to save a few dollars; it may end up costing you more in the long run. An experienced plastic surgeon will be more adept at fixing or addressing any problems that may arise.
• Of course, one of the most important factors in choosing a plastic surgeon is your personal comfort level with the doctor. You should feel comfortable asking questions about your cosmetic surgery procedure so that you can make an educated final decision regarding your surgery.