You’ve finally decided to go ahead and do it. You’re going to get cosmetic surgery. Perhaps it’s your nose or eyelids. Maybe you’re opting for a full face lift, or you want a taste of life as a D cup. Whatever you choose, you can be assured of one thing — you have a lot of company. Plastic surgery rates have risen sharply over the last few years. According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, almost 12 million plastic surgeries were performed last year — a 59 percent jump from 2000. The top three plastic surgeries performed were breast augmentation, liposuction and nose reshaping.
After deciding to go forward, your next step is choosing a plastic surgeon, but how? Word-of-mouth is one way. Ask friends who’ve had plastic surgery, or even less invasive cosmetic procedures such as Botox, chemical peels and wrinkle fillers (hyaluronic acids like Restylane or Juvederm are typically used), the top three minimally invasive procedures about their experience. Ask for a recommendation. Discuss your decision with your family doctor, and ask her for a few names. Ask a trusted nurse or other health professional for a referral.
Another good place to start is with a visit to a website for any of the medical professional society for plastic surgeons. There are several: the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (plasticsurgery.org ), the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (aafprs.org ), the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (surgery.org ) and the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (cosmeticsurgery.org ). All of these websites have features to help choose a plastic surgeon near you. There are even regional societies, such as the John Staige Davis Society of Plastic Surgeons of Maryland. Look for a physician that belongs to one or more of these organizations and is board certified in plastic surgery.
Board certification involves extended training after medical school and residency, and passing rigorous oral and written examinations. Check online with the American Board of Medical Specialties (abms.org ) to see if a physician being considered is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. It’s also worth noting that any organization can call itself a board, but not all surgical societies are recognized by the ABMS. It’s important to do your homework.
Above all, take your time and interview several physicians. Don’t be shy or intimidated during the consultation; ask as many questions as you need to be comfortable. Get answers regarding the risks, costs, follow-up steps, downtime, and surgical alternatives, if any, and the number of times he or she has done this procedure. The plastic surgeon you choose should be comfortable with these types of questions, and should welcome an informed and committed patient. The physician you choose should help you set realistic goals, provide before and after photos of patients who have had similar procedures, and be candid enough to tell you if you’re an appropriate candidate for the procedure.
By Deeanna Franklin Campbell
Deeanna Franklin Campbell has been a medical writer for 10 years, reporting on clinical meetings, the FDA, and writing a monthly column, “Visionary Art,” for Clinical Psychiatry News. A graduate of Brown University, she lives in Ellicott City with one husband, two sons, and four cats.
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