I was wondering what is the difference between a surgeon who is only board-certified...
All members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), the only recognized board that certifies doctors in the specialty of plastic surgery. In addition to board-certification, membership in ASAPS indicates a plastic surgeon’s special interest and experience in cosmetic plastic surgery. Membership is by invitation only, and is based in part upon documentation of a plastic surgeon’s wide experience in cosmetic surgery, as well as documented Continuing Medical Education (CME) in cosmetic surgery. Both these requirements indicate extensive knowledge of current cosmetic surgical techniques. Equally important is the assurance that ASAPS members abide by a strict code of professional conduct, which helps to ensure the highest quality patient care.
When choosing a plastic surgeon it is imperative to select a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Often, plastic surgeons who perform a great deal of aesthetic or cosmetic surgery will also be members of ASAPS. Although many capable aesthetic surgeons are not ASAPS members, searching for a plastic surgeon who is a member of ASAPS is an indication that a surgeon has significant interest in aesthetic plastic surgery.
Selecting a plastic surgeon should always start with board certification but it doesn't end there.
Choosing Your Surgeon
There is endless information about plastic surgery available online, some of it helpful, some of it hogwash. Many patients learn about treatment options and narrow their search for a plastic surgeon with the help of their computer. And then they make one or two or more appointments, and on the basis of these encounters decide on a surgeon. Some patients already have a particular plastic surgeon in mind, based on the recommendation of satisfied patients or the surgeon's reputation.
Regardless of how you decide who you see, ask yourself the following questions after your consultation appointment(s):
- Is this surgeon qualified to perform the surgery I am considering?
- Do I like this person? Will I enjoy seeing them over the course of my surgery and recovery?
- Was my complete medical history taken and examined in detail?
- Did this physician truly listen to me as I explained my thoughts about the improvement I am seeking?
- Does this physician share my aesthetic sensibility? Do they understand me and are they able to provide exactly what I am looking for?
- Was I provided with a thorough understanding of all options available (both surgical and non-surgical)?
- Was I shown photographic examples of surgical outcomes that give me confidence?
- Was the office staff professional, friendly and accommodating?
- Was I pressured in any way to proceed with surgery?
Listen to what your heart and your gut tell you when you are evaluating your consultation experience. Only move forward if you can do so with confidence about the experience you expect to have in a given plastic surgery practice, and about your ultimate outcome as a surgical patient.
Your experience with the consultation process is a good indication of what you are likely to receive as a surgical patient in any practice. If the process is well-organized and enjoyable, the staff is respectful and efficient, and the physician takes adequate time to understand your individual needs and communicates effectively, then you have a very high likelihood of being treated in a similar fashion if you become a surgical patient of that practice. If the process is disorganized or rushed, if the staff is discourteous or unprofessional, or if the physician does not give you confidence that your needs will be met, then don't expect things to get any better once you are a surgical patient.
You must be absolutely certain that your plastic surgeon's aesthetic sensibility matches your aesthetic goals. I have a very particular aesthetic vision, and I do not pretend to be the plastic surgeon for everybody. I strive to produce surgical results that are natural-appearing, results that do not advertise a trip to the operating room. For example, I do not perform breast augmentation for patients that are seeking an overly large and distinctly `done' breast appearance. And I have a particular distaste for cheek implants, as I think they rarely produce natural-appearing cheek contours, and instead prefer to enhance facial volume by means of structural fat grafting. Make sure that your plastic surgeon's philosophy and preferred approaches are consistent with the goals that you have in mind.
Adequate communication is obviously invaluable, and you should be able to communicate clearly and easily not only with your doctor, but also with your doctor's staff. Over the course of preparing for and recovering from aesthetic surgery, your doctor's staff will have an important and active role. Make sure that your interaction with the staff gives you confidence that you will receive the care and attention that you expect, and deserve, postoperatively.