Don’t Be the Next Headline or Statistic of Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong
Plastic surgery procedures have gained a greater acceptance than ever before. But with this acceptance comes entrants to the field more concerned with financial gain that with your safety or outcome.
The number of untrained, unlicensed/uncertified entrants to the market has brought serious patient safety issues with them, such as unapproved products, and lack of surgical or even basic medical training that has resulted in unsatisfying results at best and pain, disfigurement and death at worst.
Of course this doesn’t have to be the case. In the hands of a trained, board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in aesthetics, your provider becomes your partner in achieving your goals.
If you are considering a plastic surgery procedure, to avoid being the next headline or statistic of plastic surgery gone wrong, do your research. Here are some of the factors to take into account when choosing your surgeon and deciding what procedure you want done.
Check the physician’s credentials to see if he or she is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties for the practice of plastic surgery on the head, neck and entire body. This ensures your surgeon has the in-depth surgical training in all aspects of plastic surgery. Often, patients mistake plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons as being one and the same; however the key differentiator is the level of training in plastic surgery. A cosmetic surgeon might belong to any medical specialty, for example a general surgeon or gynecologist, who has decided to perform cosmetic procedures following a one-year cosmetic surgery fellowship or handful of courses on cosmetic procedures. More worrisome, a cosmetic surgeon may have no formal surgical training at all.
On the other hand, a board-certified plastic surgeon must complete 6 to 8 years of formal surgical and plastic surgical training after medical school and then pass rigorous written and oral examinations following this training. Many further their training in fellowships including microvascular, craniofacial, hand, pediatric and aesthetic. In addition to board certification verify the physician’s medical license and check for disciplinary action with the Federation of State Medical Boards.
Verify that the surgical facility is accredited by a recognized surgical facility accreditation agency, state-licensed or Medicare certified to ensure it meets safety standards if you are undergoing a surgical cosmetic procedure outside a hospital setting. The accreditation agencies include American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF), Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).
Make sure that the surgeon has privileges to do the same procedure in a hospital. In addition to verifying that the facility is properly credentialed, the patient should make sure that the surgeon has privileges to do the same procedure in a hospital. This assures that your surgeon has gone through the rigorous peer review process hospitals require, verifying that he or she is qualified to perform the procedure. Your surgeon's hospital privileges and access to a hospital becomes extremely important in the unlikely event that you would need to be transferred to a hospital during or after your procedure. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 57% of all cosmetic procedures are done in an outpatient facility which is perfectly safe provided the above criteria are met. It is never safe to undergo cosmetic procedures, no matter how small, outside a medical setting such as at a private home, hotel or at a party.
All cosmetic treatments and procedures require appropriate medical screening, including a medical history and pertinent physical examination to determine if you qualify for the procedure you’re considering. An ethical and board-certified plastic surgeon will discourage you from undergoing a procedure if it puts your health at risk, if it won't give you the result you desire, or if you don’t necessarily need it yet.
A board-certified plastic surgeon typically takes a holistic approach, evaluating lifestyle factors such as smoking, exercise, sun exposure, alcohol, diet and how they might affect the safety, success, and longevity of any desired procedure or treatment.
Plastic surgery procedures are safer in the hands of a board-certified plastic surgeon. A good place to start your research is on www.smartbeautyguide.com, a consumer facing website owned by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, which has comprehensive patient safety information on procedures and a locator tool for finding a board-certified plastic surgeon in your respective area.