What to Look for in a Plastic Surgeon

Plastic surgery is more popular than ever.  The number of patients choosing to undergo cosmetic plastic surgery procedures, particularly those procedures associated with counteracting the effects of facial aging, has steadily increased over the years, and has more than doubled since 2000.  Unfortunately, prospective patients are often bombarded with extremely confusing messages about their choices when seeking a plastic surgery provider.  Many providers make extravagant claims, or offer deals that seem too good to be true, and in the flood of information it can sometimes be difficult to determine who to trust.  As a practicing, board-certified plastic surgeon and otolaryngologist with more than twenty-six years of experience, I have had the opportunity to perform thousands of facial rejuvenation and cosmetic plastic surgery procedures.  Here are some of the most important things that patients should ensure before they undergo cosmetic plastic surgery.

What to Look for in a Plastic SurgeonBoard Certification

The term “board-certified” carries a great deal of weight in the medical profession, but when it is misused it can often be misleading.  The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) recognizes and oversees certification in 38 distinct medical specialties and 88 subspecialties and the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is the only organization recognized by the ABMS for certifying plastic surgeons in the United States.  Cosmetic surgery is just one component of the comprehensive training board-certified plastic surgeons receive, but it is not a recognized and accredited discipline unto itself.  Other organizations, not recognized by the ABMS, may offer training and even some form of certification in “cosmetic surgery” without requiring the years of specialized training beyond medical school and residency or the thousands of hours of hands-on surgical experience that define a board-certified plastic surgeon.  The American Board of Plastic Surgery helps to ensure that certified plastic surgeons adhere to the highest standards of patient care and safety.

Hospital Privileges

In order for any surgical procedure to be fully successful, follow-up care and a carefully-managed recovery are essential.  Regular post-operative visits can often catch and correct problems before they become serious and the complications that could potentially arise may require access to emergency medical services and hospital facilities.  Not all physicians have privileges at fully-accredited hospitals, and so must sometimes perform procedures under less than optimal conditions.  While certain procedures can certainly be safely performed in an office setting, making sure that your plastic surgeon has privileges at accredited hospitals ensures that issues can be fully addressed in a timely manner and in an appropriate setting.  The best plastic surgeons want to make sure your plastic surgery results remain exceptional for years to come, not just until your check clears.

Experience and Recognition

Most of those who become involved in medicine aren’t in it for the accolades, but often the best way to determine the skill of a plastic surgeon is to find out how they are regarded by their peers and patients.  Look for a doctor who is a member of a number of highly-regarded professional organizations, who has published articles in peer-reviewed medical journals, and who ideally is sought out as an expert instructor in his or her field.  While some awards may simply be bought, those that are the result of a peer-nomination process are frequently a sign that a plastic surgeon is highly respected by other experts in their field of medicine.

Cosmetic plastic surgery is not something that should be taken lightly.  Although fully researching your options can be time-consuming, doing your homework may significantly reduce your risk and aggravation in the long run and improve your overall results.  If you are interested in discussing how to best approach your specific facial rejuvenation needs, I would welcome you to contact my office and schedule a consultation.  Don’t forget to connect with me, Dr. Fernando Burstein, on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest facial plastic surgery news.