Choosing the Right Surgeon
In the quest to improve and enhance one’s physical features, and to look younger and feel better, millions of people are turning to aesthetic plastic surgery. Advancing techniques and clever advertising that promises to make dreams come true can entice countless patients to the operating table.
Because of the increasing demand, millions of disposable consumer dollars, and poor reimbursement from Managed Care and HMOs, physicians and surgeons from many different specialties are opting to provide cosmetic surgery services. The result is an increasing number of physicians with widely varying backgrounds, training, and experience. Understand that the majority of cosmetic surgeons are highly skilled and perform successful operations, but how do you choose?
As with all surgical procedures, cosmetic surgery carries potential risks, which can be disfiguring or even life threatening. It is paramount, therefore, to choose a plastic surgeon that is highly skilled in performing the procedure(s) desired to minimize potential for complication, and optimize the chance of having an excellent and natural appearing result.
After visiting two or three different surgeons and receiving varied opinions, often more questions are entertained than answered. Understand there are often different ways to successfully obtain a particular result. However, there are just as many ways that do not produce satisfactory results. It’s just not easy making the right choice. To be honest, it is not which plastic surgeon has the best credentials, or who is Board Certified or a member of the ASPS (American Society of Plastics Surgeons). The vast majority of serious malpractice suits are against Board Certified Plastic Surgeons. Unfortunately, there are also Board Certified Surgeons with impressive credentials that are members of any number of prestigious societies who, frankly, have many results that are less than satisfactory. The point is…don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Board Certification and ASPS membership does not guarantee quality results. Proper credentials and Board Certification are an important place to start, but the truth of the matter…the goal is to choose a plastic surgeon that produces exceptional results on a consistent basis. To learn more about Dr. Sam Gershenbaum, a premier plastic surgeon in Miami, Florida, please contact the Miami Cosmetic Surgery Center today!
- Become educated about the surgical procedure(s). Review books, brochures, and videotapes. Perform research on the Internet. Understand that there are often a number of different ways a procedure can be done. Be confident that the particular technique used is the right one for you. Know enough to ask questions and understand the answers.
- Recommendations. Check with those who you can truly trust. Be careful about casual referrals. Ask your doctor, family, or friends. Nurses are often also a good referral source for a plastic surgeon.
- Confirm the surgeon’s credentials, and research his or her malpractice history on the Internet. In Florida, cosmetic surgery physicians are listed under the Florida Department of Health: Practitioner Profile. You must, however, understand that any honest plastic surgeon who has practiced for any considerable length of time will more than likely have suits or settlements listed, especially those in metropolitan areas where lawsuits and settlements are more common. In this litigious society in which we live, malpractice claims do not necessarily reflect poorly or indicate blame. You should be cautious, however, if a surgeon has excessive listings of malpractice claims and settlements.
- Is he/she Board Certified in plastic surgery? Board certification in plastic surgery is a good place to start, but does not guarantee quality surgery.
- Hospital privileges? Even if the surgery is performed in the surgeon’s office surgical suite or outpatient facility, local hospital surgical privileges generally assure that the surgeon has undergone a careful review by his peers.
- Is the in-house surgical suite certified? If the procedure is being performed at the surgeon’s office surgical suite, make sure it has been inspected and certified by an appropriate certifying body. Check with your state’s department of health. Ask to see the certificate. In Florida, new laws require state inspection and certification.
- Consult with the surgeon who will be performing your surgery. All consultations should include review of your medical/surgical history and a comprehensive discussion of your desired goals and expectations. The procedure and possible alternatives should be discussed, as well as all possible risks and complications. The patient should fully understand which particular technique the surgeon chooses and why. You should be made aware of what to expect before, during, and after the surgery. If the surgeon is not willing to spend the time necessary to answer all your questions, or brushes aside your concerns and appears to be most interested in “closing the deal,” you should probably look elsewhere.
- View many before and after photos performed by the surgeon . This should give you some “feel” for the surgeon’s skill, but keep in mind that every patient’s physical characteristics and results are different. Understand that before and after computer imaging is an artistic rendition of the ideal desired goal and in no way guarantees your results.
- All surgery involves some risk and unpredictability. Be suspicious of any surgeon who guarantees a particular result.
- Be wary of plastic surgery “mills.” Generally these businesses hire plastic surgeons, perform high volumes of cosmetic surgery, advertise heavily, and use hard sell tactics to obtain your business. Close personal attention before and after surgery may be sacrificed for reduced prices. These plastic surgery “mills” often have a higher percent of revisional surgery.
- Become familiar with customary fees in your area. Be wary if quoted fees are much lower than what is customary in your area. Is a qualified individual administering anesthesia? Is surgery being performed with adequate time to optimize results? Is the physician qualified? Is the fee lower because the surgeon cannot book surgeries at customary fees? On the other hand, higher fees do not mean higher quality or better results. Be careful about price shopping. Know who and what you are getting.
- Be wary of surgeons who insist on correcting features that do not bother you.
- Speak with former patients. The ability to speak with and even see first hand the results of one or more former patients should not be difficult to arrange and is often encouraged. Be aware that speaking with previous patients and seeing previous results in no way guarantees any individual outcome.
- You must be able to feel comfortable and confident with your surgeon. There must be a good rapport and trust. Do not make a decision under pressure. Listen, learn, and get to know your plastic surgeon.