8 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE GOING UNDER THE KNIFE
Trying to keep up with the latest laser or liposuction device is like trying to keep up with Lindsay Lohan’s latest infraction. So rather than getting into specifics, I thought it would be useful to go over some useful tidbits. Read below and you’ll never go wrong—no matter what type of procedure you’re thinking about!
- 1.Go to a surgeon certified by one of the 24 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties. For cosmetic surgery, there are really only 2 such boards; The American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology (for facial procedures). If your surgeon is certified by any other Board then he/she has either not completed an accredited residency training program in plastic surgery or has not gone through the appropriate (and rigorous) Board examination process.
- 2.Beware of surgeons who tell you that they are “the only surgeon in the area who does this procedure” or any type of similar statement. Superlatives such as this are invariably not true and are unethical as they imply that their training is somehow superior to equally well-trained surgeons in the community. They can even get them in trouble with certain organizations such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (the flagship organization to which most board-certified plastic surgeons belong).
- 3.Ask to see before and after pictures from previous patients. A surgeon can talk about how great your results will be until he/she is blue in the face but a picture is worth 1000 words!
- 4.Find someone in your area—DO NOT TRAVEL FOR PLASTIC SURGERY! Surgery is not the same thing as going to a department store and buying a pair of shoes. All procedures require follow up and they all have the potential of ending up in a complication. While untoward events are rare, they do happen and are best managed by the original surgeon. And should you travel overseas, you have no idea as to the credentialing process in whatever country you travel to and could very well be jeopardizing your safety! In addition, having your follow up and/or complications managed by another surgeon will cost you additional money.
- 5.Ask about the facility and anesthesia. If your surgery involves anything other than local anesthesia (i.e. general or twilight anesthesia) then it should be conducted in an accredited facility with a board-certified anesthesiologist. If the surgeon says that he/she will be monitoring your twilight anesthesia or that his “trained nurse” will be doing so, then this is below the standard of care and not appropriate.
- 6.Ask about the reoperation or revision policy. Most surgeons should offer you a free revision should it be necessary within a reasonable amount of time, usually 6 months-1 year post-operatively. You may still have to pay for anesthesia and facility fees, but the surgeon’s fee should be free.
- 7.Look around the office. If something doesn’t seem right, then it’s probably not. For example, if the office is jammed packed with people because the prices are way below the market rate, then you should be concerned. Plastic surgery is expensive because surgeons have extensive training that has cost them a lot of money. They use expensive materials and pay significantly higher insurance premiums compared to other physicians. If your surgeon’s prices are 75% cheaper than everyone else’s then there is usually a good reason—and it’s probably not a good one.
- 8.Shop around and don’t get caught up in the “latest and greatest” technique or product that you recently read in Vogue. Most communities in the United States have more than one plastic surgeon. If you find someone that is board-certified, has good before and after pictures, has explained the pros and cons of the procedure, who’s prices are reasonable and perhaps most importantly, who you LIKE—then you have found your surgeon. You should feel confident that he/she will employ the “latest and greatest” technique or product (and do so in a safe manner) because you’ve done your homework. Good luck!