Plastic surgery is the surgical reconstruction of various parts of your body: face, skin, breast, and abdomen. There are a variety of reasons for someone to consider plastic surgery, including birth defects, scars left by infection or injury, aesthetic concerns like altering a jawline or a nose.
A plastic surgeon is a surgical specialist who has finished up to 11 years of combined academics and residency requirements, along with an internship and authorized residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery.
He/she has also had an extra couple of years in a general practice before being board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, which is the Gold Standard for credentialing in the plastic surgery field. This certification is the public's guarantee that their surgeon of choice is among the best plastic surgeon available.
Plastic surgery can help you to improve the way you feel about the way you look. Some of the more popular plastic surgery procedures are Breast Augmentation, Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck), Liposuction, Body Lifts, Arm Lifts, Face Lifts, Rhinoplasty, and nonsurgical procedures like Botox injections.
With advances in laser technology that provide for simultaneous incision and cauterization, a skilled plastic surgeon can now perform procedures with fewer risks and inconveniences than traditional surgical techniques. These include blood loss, infection, length of hospital stay and length of healing times.
Choosing A Plastic or Cosmetic Surgeon
You want to be sure your surgeon is highly qualified, and a good match for the procedure you’re considering. Here are some considerations to help you make the right choice:
- Inquire if the surgeon is Board Certified.
This should be the very first question that you ask. People sometimes think that state and Board certifications are interchangeable, but they are not. Being Board certified means that you are certified through the American Board of Plastic Surgeons. It is the only board that will certify in both plastic and reconstructive surgery, and this peer-reviewed board has stringent qualifications for training, and benchmarks for the standard of patient care an applicant must meet.
- Inquire about the qualifications of the assisting staff for your surgery.
There are many members of your surgical team: the anesthesiologist, nursing staff and other specialists who are there to make sure your surgery goes smoothly and without complications. Know your team and their qualifications.
- Know where your surgery will be performed.
Does your surgery require an overnight stay in a hospital? Can it be performed in an ambulatory surgery center? Find out where and why your surgeon recommends that setting. If you will need more care than is available at home, let your surgeon know so you aren’t sent home without the support you need.
- Know the risks of your plastic surgery procedure.
Almost every surgery has some risk: bleeding, complications, infections, etc. While advances in surgical technique and aftercare have reduced many surgical risks, it’s good to know what they are, and what the physical and financial impact can be.
- Don’t forget about recovery time!
Although each patient responds differently to any given surgery, your surgeon should be able to talk about average recovery times, how soon you can resume most normal activities, and how you can help speed the healing process.
- Select your type of anesthetic carefully.
Anesthesia presents one of the higher risks of any surgical procedure. There are three primary ways to induce anesthesia: A local anesthetic carries the least risk, and is generally used during low risk, minimally invasive procedures, such as an in-office procedure. Next is IV sedation, followed by general anesthesia. Ask your surgeon about the risks involved. You should know that if you smoke or are on any medications, these could have an impact on the options available to you. Be sure to discuss your choice of anesthetic thoroughly and be well informed about its risks.
- Ask to speak to other patients about their experiences.
Knowing how other patients view your surgeon is an excellent indication of how your experience will turn out. Speak to patients who had the same procedure, but don’t neglect those who have had other surgeries. Check your surgeon’s website for his/her before/after photographs. Read about other patients’ experiences. Meet them if possible!
While you can never eliminate all risks of a surgical procedure, being prepared and informed by the answers to these questions will go a long way toward minimizing your risk and ensuring you of a successful, pleasing outcome.