It may seem cliche to say, but your selection of a Scottsdale plastic surgeon is probably as important as your decision to undergo cosmetic surgery. This decision should be based upon a review of qualifications, training, years of experience, before and after patient photographs, along with open and honest communication between you and your potential Scottsdale plastic surgeon of what you are expecting from the experience. Mutual honesty is paramount as this promotes trust, and though the thought of elective surgery may be anxiety provoking, you should feel comfortable in your “gut” about your choice of the doctor who performs the plastic surgery and the staff of the practice that will support you through the entire process. There are some basic questions that you should ask your potential plastic surgeon, and having a list of questions is a great first step in starting your research.
With today’s economic climate there are an overabundance of doctors practicing “plastic surgery” to supplement their incomes. In the state of Arizona, any licensed medical doctor can legally perform cosmetic surgery. With this in mind, the term ‘Caveat Emptor’ (buyer beware) applies. Back in the days of the Old West, someone asked Willie Sutton, a famous bank robber, why he robbed banks. He replied, “Because that’s where the money is”. The same applies to doctors that claim they are “plastic surgeons” without adequate training or experience. In thinking as a patient, you should demand that your plastic surgeon perform aesthetic procedures at the most proficient level, and this entails that one complete 10 years or more of additional training after college.
The following criterion should be met:
- A medical degree from an accredited school of medicine.
- Completion of a residency recognized by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. This residency should encompass the scope of practice for that particular plastic surgeon, unless a surgeon completed a fellowship of specialized training within that specialty. Only fellowships accredited by the same ACGME should be taken seriously.
- State licensure within the state that the procedure will be performed.
- Board Certification in a specialty that legitimately and routinely perform cosmetic procedures within the scope of their practice (example, Head and Neck surgery and Plastic Surgery). Preferably, the American Board of Medical Specialties should recognize this board certification. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only such board recognized by the ABMS within the scope of cosmetic surgery. This is critical, as many professional boards, such as The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, are not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialists, hence all “board certified” claims are not necessarily the same. Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery is the result of extensive and unique training in plastic surgery, requires extensive written and oral examinations, and reflects a commitment to the profession and patients who seek such expertise.
- It is of the utmost importance that your potential Scottsdale plastic surgeons have privileges at a regional hospital to perform the procedures for which you are inquiring about. For example, a Scottsdale/Paradise Valley plastic surgeon that is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery who performs breast augmentations or face lifts and maintains privileges at Scottsdale Healthcare to perform breast augmentations or face lifts. This ensures that credentials and qualifications to perform such procedures are approved by hospital surgical committees made up of surgical peers to ensure experience, competence, and safety. This serves as a further screening mechanism for your plastic surgeon’s credentials.
Having met the basic criterion of finding a plastic surgeon in Scottsdale who has completed an appropriate residency and is board certified in plastic surgery, with hospital privileges at a local hospital to perform the procedures you are interested in, what next? The following are questions that may make your next stage of research easier.
- Are you board certified in the specialty addressing the procedure in which I am interested? For example, you are considering a tummy tuck or breast augmentation and consult with an oral surgeon that advertises that they perform them. Exactly what training did the surgeon have to perform these procedures? It may be wise to look elsewhere for a surgeon who has appropriate training in body contouring surgery or breast augmentation. It is very important that you consult with a surgeon who is not practicing beyond the scope of his or her training.
- How long have you been performing plastic surgery in your practice? Plastic surgery is extremely demanding with the blending of that which is learned in training with that which is experienced in the reality of application. Artistry is the quality that develops with years of experience, and with the critical evaluation of one’s results and the constant desire to strive for further excellence. EXPERIENCE COUNTS.
- How many of these procedures do you perform per month, per year, and what percentage of your practice do they make up? What are the five most common procedures that you perform, and which do you like most and why? Your plastic surgeon should perform your desired procedure often, and should seem passionate about the results you can achieve.
- Review adequate numbers of before and after photographs of patients who have undergone the procedure that you are interested in. Ask for a detailed explanation of the before and after photographs so you can understand the doctor’s philosophy regarding the procedure, and what they propose for you in particular. Beware of photographs that have been altered.
- Ask to talk to patients that have had similar procedures.
- Ask about where the surgery is performed, and how you will recover after the operation. Your Scottsdale plastic surgeon’s surgery center must be accredited for safety, either by the state where it is located, or by one of the three major accreditation bodies: American Association for Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAAPS), Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), and The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO). After surgeries such as a full face lift, abdominoplasty, large body contouring procedures, and large volume liposuction, it is wise to stay in a surgical recovery center at least overnight to optimize your initial post-operative course with nursing observation, optimal fluid intake, and necessary pain control.
- Ask who is providing the anesthesia. Not all Scottsdale plastic surgeons use board certified anesthesiologists, as some use non-certified anesthesiologists or nurse anesthetists, often to save costs. There are significant differences between the two, as anesthesiologists must complete college, four years of medical school, followed by a four-year anesthesiology residency program. Board certification is obtained, as in plastic surgeons, when the anesthesiologist passes both written and oral examinations and meets all of the requirements of the American Board of Anesthesiology.