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How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon

I’ve been asked this question frequently. “Have you seen the television show Botched?”
Well I have on one occasion and it was not pretty. The surgeons on the show do good work, but the question remains, “Why was it botched?”

Consumers considering Plastic/Cosmetic Surgery need to create a checklist and make sure they follow it. Remember first that you are a patient and should be treated with the same level of medical expertise as anyone presenting with a medical illness. No, you are not sick, but the attention given in the evaluation of what you desire, should be taken seriously.
You are not a client…you are a valued patient.

Let’s start with defining who the providers are. We are deluged with social media and advertisements. How does any individual know what qualifications the surgeon may possess? So, let’s start with a few definitions.

Plastic Surgeon

Patrick R. Felice, M.D.This Physician has typically completed 5 years of a general surgery training and an additional 2 years of Plastic Surgery. Their practice may comprise of only cosmetic surgery or reconstructive surgery, or a combination of both. These physicians complete additional certification from the Board of Plastic Surgery which is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. These surgeons can display the symbol of excellence of the American Society of Plastic Surgery upon completion.

Facial Plastic Surgeon

This Physician has typically completed 1 year of general surgery and 4 years of Ears, Nose and Throat. Some will go on to complete a formal Plastic Surgery residency for 2 more years, while others have it included but limited to the face, in their ENT residency. These physicians complete additional certification from the Board of Otolaryngology which is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. There is the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, but this designation is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Cosmetic Surgeon

This title can be used by any surgeon or non-surgeon who chooses to do cosmetic procedures. They can be from any specialty and usually work in Med Spas. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery exists but is self-designated and not recognized by the American College of Medical Specialties. This designation should not be confused with a Plastic/Cosmetic Surgeon who is committed to a Cosmetic Surgery practice.

My favorite advertisement includes the headline, “Facial Plastic Surgery, that’s all we do”. If you are a Facial Plastic Surgeon, you can’t do surgery below the neck. So, in a sense that is true. What is misleading is suggesting that because that is all you do; you are the best at it. Many Plastic Surgeons would take issue with this as the facial procedures discussed were invented by Plastic Surgeons.

Is a Plastic Surgeon who has committed to do only Cosmetic Surgery better than a Plastic Surgeon who does both Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery? Not necessarily. But a Plastic Surgeon who chooses to do Cosmetic Surgery only, becomes more familiar with
the vast array of procedures necessary for good outcomes and often incorporates Lasers, Botox, Fillers, Lymphatic massage post-surgery, appropriate staffing, and more. It takes a real commitment to be dedicated only to Cosmetic Surgery as a subspecialty of Plastic Surgery. This would be equivalent to the Plastic Surgeon who dedicates his practice to Reconstructive Surgery and chooses to stay current in breast reconstruction, hand surgery, microsurgery, burn management, and more. To do both Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery well, is difficult to achieve.

How Do You Know Who Is Good?

In the past, patients got a referral from their Primary Care Doctor or just went to the yellow pages. Some went with word of mouth. The problem with a recommendation from your Primary Care Doctor is that he/she may only know someone who does a lot of work in the hospital on reconstructive cases but may not be familiar with their cosmetic talents. This is also the caveat in choosing a surgeon from the yearly list of “Best Doctors”. These do not reflect the best Cosmetic Surgeons as there is no category for them. Those listed are Reconstructive Surgeons.

Who uses yellow pages anymore? We search the internet. If you google “best plastic surgeon”, it will reflect the dilemma described above as mostly Reconstructive Surgeons, or it will list the ones who paid the most for advertising. This gets you no closer to finding the best Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon.

Word of mouth is great depending on the source. If someone truly has a great experience and had great results, they will tell you who they used. If someone had a bad experience and bad results, they will tell you who they used. The problem is that everyone is different and a “Botched Job” does not equate to a “Bad Scar” or “Asymmetry” that could not be anticipated even in the best of hands. Unfortunately, online reviews do not account for this.

The very best sources, in my opinion, are medical personnel who work with the Surgeon. These Operating Room Nurses and Recovery Room Nurses can tell you all about how good they think the surgeon is. They see how they operate, how they communicate with the patient and family, and how well people recover from surgery. They also know how often a surgeon has complications. If you don’t know one, call the ambulatory surgery center of the hospital you are considering and ask to speak to a nurse who works in the Operating or Recovery Room. Just ask, “Who do you feel is the best Plastic Surgeon for a (state procedure you are going to have)?

Office Personnel and Support

Office LobbyOften patients overlook the importance of the staff associated with the Plastic/Cosmetic Surgeon. You should receive, at a minimum, friendly faces who are all knowledgeable about the field of Plastic Surgery. From the Receptionist to the Clinical Administrator,
how do they make you feel? Is the office clean? Are the staff members professional? What is offered after your surgery? Lymphatic massage, scar management with laser and silicone sheets, unlimited visits for the first year, no charge for revisions during the first year…. ask the questions. Your gut will tell you who to go with.

Medspas

The vast majority of “Med Spas” are run by non-Plastic/Cosmetic Surgeons. The law requires that treatments in these facilities can be performed by M.D.’s, APRN’s and Physician Assistants under the supervision of a Medical Doctor. If there is a medical director, chances are they are not Plastic Surgeons. You need to ask the individual performing the procedure what their qualifications are. Are they Board Certified? Where did they learn to do the procedure you are contemplating? I have run my own Med Spa for 20+ years and only use Registered Nurses to do skincare and laser procedures. I personally perform all other services including but not limited to Botox and Fillers. Ask yourself why you would go to a non-Plastic/Cosmetic Surgeon to have these treatments?

Anesthesia

There is a misconception that “Local Anesthesia” is completely safe. While doing a procedure with the patient completely awake is safe, there are limitations. For example, liposuction can be done under local anesthesia. The problem comes if too large an area is performed requiring a large amount of local anesthetic. The side effects from high levels of Lidocaine in your blood can lead to seizures, cardiac irregularities and death. Why risk it? I do many procedures under local anesthesia but take extreme precaution in keeping the amount of anesthetic I use to safe levels.

For 30 years, I have perfected the art of Cosmetic Surgery. As a double Board Certified surgeon, I have obtained the highest credentials in the field. I have introduced and lectured on skincare techniques, laser procedures and have innovated safe anesthesia practices and improved post-operative pain relief with more rapid recoveries. I have achieved artistic results and natural outcomes. From the most noninvasive to the more invasive procedures, you will see natural results all performed exclusively by me. This is the true art of Cosmetic Surgery.
Do your homework. Don’t settle for less. When you contemplate a procedure of any kind, don’t you deserve the attention of a Plastic Surgeon?
Visit our website, www.youthfulimages.com or call for a free consultation, 860-242-0505.