Choosing Your Plastic Surgeon

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So you think you might want to get some cosmetic surgery or non invasive procedure done. Great! So where do you go from here? How do you check it out? How do you select a doctor? What kind of doctor should you choose? Should he or she be board certified? What does that even mean? Board certified by whom? Should you get it done nearby, or should you travel? Maybe it is cheaper in another country overseas? Should you choose the cheapest? So many choices. So confusing.

Ok. I think we decided on one thing. You need a medical doctor. Right? It takes seven years to go through medical school to become a doctor. Now this medical doctor will need to get some specialist training.

Many of these procedures that a plastic surgeon does are to correct things that are not normal and bring them up to normal. It also includes improving parts of the body from normal so that they are even better than normal. Reconstruction is returning parts that are worse than normal back to average and cosmetic is the process of improving on what is already normal, but the desire is there to make it better than average.

This might include removing extra fat, or extra skin after weight loss or the ravages of pregnancy. It includes liposuction and tummy tucks. It also includes correcting saggy breasts, reducing breasts that are too large, or enlarging small breasts with implants.

The aging face can be improved in far too many ways to list here. It might include surgery or non surgical methods. Today, the non surgical (or noninvasive) procedures are gaining huge popularity because of minimal risk, hardly any downtime, reduced costs and improved effectiveness.

The plastic surgeon is familiar with the aesthetics involved, the anatomy, and the proportions to achieve the ideal result. A plastic surgeon is first trained to operate all over the body. Many plastic surgeons, such as myself, train in general surgery first, to become comfortable operating all over the body and then go into a complete plastic surgery training program. The plastic surgery training program is known as a plastic surgery residency, and takes another three years.

To complete one’s training in plastic surgery the new specialist will need to take the examinations to become Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This includes an oral examination and also a written examination about a year apart.

Now, there are quite a lot of doctors who trained in something else and then while they are in practice decide that they want to be a plastic surgeon. They want to take a shortcut because they don’t want to go through the rigorous residency training and examinations required to become a fully fledged plastic surgeon. So they go to classes and they take weekend courses and they start doing some cosmetic work. Some might be related to the specialty that they trained in and that is perfectly fine, such as ear, nose and throat doctors doing cosmetic surgery of the nose or face. Or maybe a dermatologist doing Botox®… but a dermatologist is not trained in surgery so it is a little weird if he or she starts putting in breast implants!

The law allows all doctors to do all medical procedures. So it is not against the law for an ear, nose and throat doctor to do a tummy tuck but their specialty did not provide training for that. A gynecologist doing facelifts or breast implants is just odd.

Many of these doctors, who did not train in plastic surgery, gathered together to produce their own board. They call it the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. This board is not recognized, supervised or accredited by the American Board of Medical Specialties. It is on its own.

If you decide to travel a long way to get plastic surgery be aware that these standards do not apply overseas. What happens if something goes wrong? You are a long way from your surgeon. You might have to keep traveling back and forth to get care. Nearby plastic surgeons may not want to get involved in something that went wrong a long way away and you might find it challenging to find care at home.

Plastic surgery is not a commodity and you should never choose your surgeon on price alone. Sometimes the more expensive surgeon might be providing better results and better safety. A young surgeon just out of training may have the latest techniques but does not have the experience, and may not have seen all body types. An older surgeon usually has more experience, and has kept up with the latest techniques by continuing medical education which is constantly provided and monitored by ASPS and ASAPS.

So now, you have chosen your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and you are off to your consult. Maybe you chose more than one. Then, guess what? You will get more than one recommendation and opinion. But wait… the opinions are not the same. Why is that? What should you do now? Well, stay tuned, that will be the subject of another article.

Hopefully, after reading this you will now have a good idea of where to go and who to choose for your plastic surgery needs. I wish you the very best and most beautiful results.

The American Board of Medical Specialties

The American Board of Medical Specialties – abms.org – is a body of highly respected individuals who supervise, monitor and accredit all the medical specialty boards. There are 24 medical boards approved and accredited by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is one of those accredited boards.

What is a Plastic Surgeon?

A plastic surgeon is trained in repairing, correcting and improving the external and visible body parts. You can be born with a body part deformity such as a cleft lip (split lip and roof of mouth), or overly prominent ears or an unsightly nose. Your breasts might be too big or too small or too droopy. You might develop a deformity by accident such as a bad burn or a motor vehicle accident, which could result in deformities of your face or other body parts. If you are unfortunate enough to get cancer you might need to have your breast removed and reconstructed. Skin cancers can create havoc with your face and a plastic surgeon is best suited to prevent or fix it.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

Your doctor should be Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and be a member in good standing of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)plasticsurgery.org. The society holds its’ membership to the highest standards of ethics, and continuing medical education throughout their career to continue to be up to date on new technologies. It also requires its’ members to only operate in properly, fully accredited surgery centers and to have privileges to do the same procedures in an acute care hospital. It is the largest plastic surgery organization in the world and was founded in 1931.

There is also another very selective society called the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)surgery.org. This society was founded over 50 years ago in 1967. Plastic surgeons, who adhere to high ethical standards, and who are Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and who are doing a large amount of aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery, must be invited to join. I am a member of both societies.

Both societies are focused on the highest standards of patient safety. Both societies do plastic surgery research, and lobby at the national and state level on behalf of patient interests in plastic surgery. Both societies have very highly respected internationally peer reviewed scientific journals which contain the latest in scientific studies and new methods in plastic surgery.

Learn More

Contact Dr. Silverton to learn more about choosing a plastic surgeon or to schedule a consultation.

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