6 Suggestions on Finding a Plastic Surgeon

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Marianne Campolongo, Staff Writer

Marianne A. Campolongo is an experienced writer and photographer. Her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines and on websites. The topics she has written about include health, parenting, lifestyles, travel, food, and dieting. She has also photographed magazine covers, including personalities such as Hillary Clinton and former CBS co-anchor René Syler. She holds a law degree from Fordham University School of Law.


December 31 2007

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Consumer interest in cosmetic plastic surgery is growing. So it's no surprise some physicians are switching from other specialties to cosmetic surgery. What is surprising is that any licensed physician can call himself or herself a cosmetic surgeon! A physician who used to treat heart patients can take a weekend course in a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure and start performing it immediately. So how do you find a qualified plastic surgeon with the expertise you need? Here are six things to look for:

  1. Is the Surgeon Board-Certified? Board-certified physicians have additional training and years of experience in a medical specialty that goes beyond having a medical license from the state where they practice. But a doctor's board certification needs to be in the right specialties if you want plastic surgery. Board-certified plastic surgeons, or others who may have a subspecialty in cosmetic plastic surgery such as otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat specialists), ophthalmologists (medical eye doctors), and dermatologists, are among the types of doctors you should consider, depending on what type of plastic surgery you want. Learn about board certification.
  2. Where Will I Be Operated On? Depending upon the cosmetic procedure, plastic surgery may take place in an office, in a freestanding surgical clinic (also called an ambulatory surgical facility), or a hospital. It is important that the office or facility is accredited. A registered nurse should monitor sedation and a board-certified anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse-anesthetist should administer general anesthesia. A physician and a registered nurse should be on site until you recover. The operating physician should determine when you are ready to go home. If you're considering surgery in a doctor's office or freestanding surgical center, ask if the site has necessary monitoring and emergency equipment and ask to see its accreditation. Always check your surgeon's hospital affiliations, what hospitals he or she has admitting privileges in, and find out what hospital you will be transferred to if something should go wrong during surgery.
  3. The Consultation: Building Trust. At your consultation with the cosmetic plastic surgeon, you should feel comfortable and feel that you have a rapport with your surgeon. Ask a lot of questions. Discuss the risks. Do not feel pressured into having a procedure. Ask to talk to other patients. Here's a handy list of questions to print and take with you.
  4. How Often Has the Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon Performed this Procedure? The cosmetic plastic surgeon who did your best friend's breast augmentation may not be the best surgeon for your nose job. You want to choose a board-certified cosmetic surgeon who has performed the procedure often enough to keep his or her skills current. If it is a new procedure, ask about the extent of his or her training and any published studies that review its safety and risks.
  5. A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words. You'll find cosmetic plastic surgeons with web sites where you can look at before-and-after photos of the type of procedure(s) you are considering. Ask to review photos during the consultation and be sure these are of the surgeon's own patients. Also bring photos along that show how you would like to look. Your plastic surgeon should be open and honest in discussing what can be achieved based upon the characteristics of your face or body. Your surgeon should advise you whether or not you can achieve the look you want.
  6. Phone a Friend. Get referrals from friends and family. That way you can see firsthand how well their procedure turned out and find out what they liked or didn't like about their plastic surgeon. Also ask your family doctor or gynecologist for referrals.

Contact a nationwide network of independent Board-Certified surgeons. NewImage.com can quickly and easily help you find a board-certified surgeon by location and by specific procedure. Or call toll-free 1-800-517-7966.