I just read an article from the Indy Star, the online version of The Indianapolis Star newspaper, on how to find a skilled cosmetic surgeon. The article advised prospective patients to seek a board-certified physician. So far so good. The piece went on to suggest looking for one from “the big four,” meaning a dermatologist, an ear nose and throat specialist, an ophthalmologist or a plastic surgeon. No!
Why not? Well, let me put it this way — do you want a dermatologist to perform your tummy tuck?
To be fair, the author of the article, Shari Rudavski, asked for input from the president of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery. That’s why she got the advice she did. To be extremely fair, perhaps Ms. Rudavski only had facial cosmetic surgery in mind in authoring her article (though she doesn’t specify). Even given the benefit of that doubt, however, do you want an ear, nose and throat specialist or an ophthalmologist giving you a face lift?
Please join me in a resounding “No!”
There are talented physicians from disciplines like dermatology, or even gynecology, who perform cosmetic surgery. In fact, almost any physician can add cosmetic procedures like face lifts, eyelid lifts, breast augmentation and tummy tucks to their repertoire. Today there are still no standard requirements to meet before you hang out a shingle that says “cosmetic surgery.” If you turn to a dermatologist or other doctor for a cosmetic procedure, you really don’t know what you’re getting.
And that’s just the point. The only way to be sure your cosmetic surgeon has been adequately trained and evaluated is to choose a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). That way you’ll know they have successfully completed at least five years of surgical residency, with a portion of that training specifically dedicated to plastic surgery. They are also required to be in practice for at least two years and to pass peer review, as well as vigorous oral and written exams focused on plastic surgery.
If you’re seeking facial plastic surgery, you may want to consider either a surgeon certified by the ABPS or one whose certification is from the American Board of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. (Just don’t have the latter perform surgery on your body!)
Simple, right? You’re considering a cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, you want an expert who has training and experience in the right field and the certification to prove it. In fact, APBS certification should be the first thing you find out about a prospective surgeon…the box that needs checking before you ask all your other questions, request to see before and after photos, ask to talk to other patients and more.
There are many talented ABPS-certified plastic surgeons available to you. Don’t settle for a physician who may have added cosmetic procedures to their practice as an afterthought.
Oh, so who am I to be giving this advice? I’m not a physician with any kind of certification — no axe to grind, no patients to attract. I’m an independent plastic surgery writer and researcher looking to share what I’ve learned with the hope it may help someone out.