How to Pick a Plastic Surgeon – What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself and Your Investment
Several times a year various publications come out with their annual ‘Best Of’ and ‘Top Doc’ lists, and if you’re in the market for a plastic surgery procedure these lists can be helpful in narrowing down which physicians might be right for you. But, besides being included on one of these lists, how can patients determine whether or not the doctor they are considering is indeed qualified, capable, certified and overall a good choice? It’s a question patients are often faced with, and not doing enough research or failing to ask the right questions with the physician of your choice can result in a less than satisfactory surgical outcome, or worse.
Since Dr. Shapiro is a board-certified plastic surgeon, a specialist of facial plastic surgery and exceptionally skilled in revisionary work, we often have patients come to our practice looking to have issues fixed that occurred as a result of an inexperienced surgeon, outdated tools or techniques. Your safety, comfort, well being and happiness are of paramount importance and it’s important that the doctor you choose makes you feel 100% comfortable about your procedure every step of the way.
Generally, most people are thrilled with their plastic surgeon and surgical outcome, but it’s important to know that undesirable situations can and do happen and it’s important if you’re considering having surgery you arm yourself with the right information so you can make an informed decision prior to having surgery.
To help you make an educated decision when interviewing plastic surgeons, Dr. Shapiro has put together the following tips for you to consider when researching your potential plastic surgeon:
1. Make sure the surgeon is board certified.
All plastic surgeons are not alike. Plastic surgeons that are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) are uniquely qualified and specially trained. They have been proven to provide the best patient care and have the lowest rates of complications.
Do not assume that all doctors who claim to be “board certified” have the same training. Be sure that your doctor is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The ABPS is the only board certification for plastic surgeons in this country. Don’t be fooled by other professional-sounding boards.
If a doctor is certified by the ABPS this means that they are certified in plastic surgery and have met the following requirements:
They have earned a degree from an accredited medical school
They have completed 3 years of general surgery
They have completed 2-3 years of supervised residency in plastic surgery
They have had at least 2 years of professional practice
They have passed rigorous written and oral exams (only about 70 percent of physicians who take the test pass it)
The ABPS is recognized and overseen by the American Board of Medical Specialties and sets high education and training standards. To find out if your doctor is board certified, check with the American Board of Medical Specialties.
2. Check the surgeon’s record.
Track down your state’s medical board. You can find out more about a surgeon’s record from these organizations, which record any disciplinary actions against the cosmetic surgeon. Contact the board and ask for a report. Each state treats a doctor’s record a little differently. In some states you may be able to view a surgeon’s records online. In other states you have to request the information through the mail. Pay close attention to any settlements or records of disciplinary action. Ask whether there are any open or pending cases for that surgeon currently being reviewed by the board. Also make sure that your surgeon is licensed to practice medicine within the state.
3. Ask if the surgeon has hospital privileges.
This is important because hospitals do background checks. If they don’t have hospital privileges, that is a red flag. The hospital has balances and checks on your practice. They know what you’re doing. And also, if there’s a complication, you have a place to take your patient.
4. Come armed with questions for your doctor.
According to The Arizona Medical Board, some questions you should ask your plastic surgeon include:
How many times has the physician performed the procedure?
How long has the physician performed the procedure?
What other procedures does he/she perform?
Who will assist in the procedure? Their qualifications and training?
Are all involved licensed in good standing?
What is involved in the procedure? How is it performed?
Can I see multiple before and after photos of patients on whom you have performed this procedure?
Can you provide me with three to five reference patients on whom you’ve performed this procedure?
What are the exact breakdown of fees for this procedure?
Can I get advance copies of all forms I have to complete and sign prior to procedure?
Are you insured for malpractice?
Will the physician use sedation? If yes, what level of sedation will the physician use?
Who will administer and monitor the sedation?
How long will the procedure last?
How long will the sedation effects last?
How long will it take to recover in the facility before discharge?
Where will the surgery take place?
What are the emergency plans?
To which hospital would you be taken?
Will post-operative medicine be necessary?
Will there be noticeable scarring?
What realistic result can I expect?
Will the physician perform the procedure from the first cut to the last stitch?
What are the risks associated with this procedure?
What are the warning signs or concerns to watch for?
Do you do revisions and at what cost?
Plastic surgery can be an amazing thing, but it’s important to go the extra mile to not only ensure you’ll not only be pleased with the results, but also protect yourself from any issues or complications that may arise.
For any questions about selecting a plastic surgeon and more resources to educate yourself in the plastic surgery process call our office: 480.451.1700.