SMART PATIENTS DON’T WANT TO BE A GUINEA PIG

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Poor guinea pigs.  Nobody wants to be one.  To be one infers they are the ‘first to try’ or that someone is practicing or learning at that person’s expense.  The last place one wants to be a guinea pig is in the arena of cosmetic surgery.  The result can be catastrophic and costly to repair.  With the changes in medicine, more and more inadequately trained physicians are willing to perform cosmetic surgery on unwitting patients.  It is imperative one thoroughly evaluate their surgeon’s credentials and more imperative, their experience with the chosen procedure to ensure a favorable result. 

Most people know their surgeon should be board certified.  It is imperative to know what they are board certified in and which board certified them.  The American Board of Medical Specialists recognizes different boards and most educational campaigns recommend board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.  Board certification is obtained by passing a written and oral examination and having sufficient case experience during residency training.  Nothing more, nothing less.  This is a great start.  However, I believe clinical experience is of paramount importance.  Remember the saying “Good judgment come from bad experience and experience comes from bad judgment”. There is a lot of truth to this.  The prudent patient chooses a surgeon who is properly board certified and experienced performing the operation you are seeking.  There are many intangibles in surgery and patient tissues that are not written about in medical books which can have a profound affect on outcome such as skin or soft tissue quality, type of fat, location of previous scars, types of implants etc., all of which can drastically alter outcome.  The experienced surgeon factors these learned elements into his thinking, operative plan, and its execution to maximize your outcome.  The incidence of complications diminishes with experience and the outcome becomes more predictable.  As an example, think about putting together a complex toy for your child on Christmas Eve.  The instructions are written out, you read them, and yet struggle to put the toy together the first time.  Once done, think how much easier it would be to assemble a second one, assuming you have twins!   Experience also makes it easier to recognize complications, treat them sooner, and ultimately resolve the problem so that the outcome will be favorable. 

Another asset that prudent surgeons utilize is their partners or colleagues.  It can be most helpful if one is able to discuss difficult cases preoperatively or have another experienced surgeon cast an opinion on how to solve a complication.  It is very important that a surgeon and the people he or she shares call with have the same goal and what is in the patient’s best interest, no matter the timing of the event. 

As a general rule, pricing in a giving location is usually very similar.  Beware of a “great deal”.  Why is a particular surgeon willing to offer such a deal?  Remember, “Pay peanuts, get monkeys”.  It is easy to attract unwitting patients with fancy advertising and cheap prices, but at what expense in terms of the end result.  The costs to correct a problem can greatly exceed any cost savings. 

An experienced surgeon carefully screens their patient.  They want to know the patient’s medical history and whether a procedure can be safely done.  They should have plenty of before and after photos they can provide.  There are websites such as RealSelf.com that have photos and surgery narratives from real patients and can be most helpful.  The successful, experienced plastic surgeon’s largest referral base is their prior patients.  People don’t encourage friends and family to seek the services of a provider who has not delivered the product they wanted.  Ask family and friends who they recommend.  One should feel comfortable with their plastic surgeon after a consultation.  Get more than one opinion if you are not sure. At The Face & Body Center, our surgeons combined experience exceeds 150 years and thousands of cases.  We encourage all patients to scrutinize, ask questions, and seek additional consults as needed.  We have examples of our work readily available on our website for review.  Our physicians perform routine operations and love the challenges of complex revisional surgery.  We have the credentials and the experience.  

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Jackson Plastic Surgeon