5 Steps to Follow to be Cosmetic Surgery Cautious
Given the news about another patient losing her life while undergoing a procedure in Florida, and the story of the Denver surgical assistant who posed as a plastic surgeon and injured dozens of people, some folks are feeling downright cautious about moving ahead with cosmetic surgery.
As well they should!
Given the popularity of plastic surgery—in New York, Florida, Denver and everywhere else—it’s tempting for bad players to try to take advantage of people who haven’t done their homework. So don’t be one of them!
Here are the top steps you should take to ensure your choice of plastic surgeon is a good one.
1) Check out the website.
Read every page of your plastic surgeon’s website. Does the information there help educate you and give an objective idea about what to expect? Or, is it sales-y in tone, focusing mainly on how easy a procedure is and how fabulous you’ll look afterward?
In our view, electing cosmetic surgery is a big decision. You may indeed breeze through it, and you probably will look fabulous afterward. But there are many more decision factors to consider than just these.
2) Evaluate the appearance of the practice.
Get a sense of how the practice actually looks. The website may feature photos and you can drop in and have a quick look at the waiting room. It should have a welcoming, professional feel befitting a medical office, and of course it should be clean.
As an example, the Florida clinic where patients died this year featured information on payment plans, credit options and promotional pricing painted prominently on the window next to an image of an attractive woman. To us, these tactics are more appropriate for a nail salon than a surgical practice.
3) Review the plastic surgeon’s credentials.
Invest some time to understand your plastic surgeon’s background. Find out where he or she went to medical school and performed a residency, and make sure the doctor has actual training in plastic surgery. Anyone with an M.D. license can legally perform cosmetic surgery, but you don’t want just any doctor to operate on you.
We also suggest you insist that your doctor is board certified in plastic surgery. Read about board certification here, then check to see if your surgeon is listed. Also, find out whether your doctor is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. All these organizations require much more than just minimum medical licensing.
4) Take a look at the surgery suite.
During your consultation or another visit, ask to see the surgical suite (assuming your procedure will be done there instead of in an hospital). Make a list of questions you’d like to pose before committing to surgery. These might include: types of lifesaving technology on hand, age of the equipment and support staff and their credentials.
One other important point: find out whether the surgical suite is fully accredited by the Joint Commission or the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgical Facilities (AAAASF). This certification assures you that the facility goes through rigorous professional inspection on a regular basis.
5) Double check privileges and licenses.
In the disturbing case in Denver, the man arrested had worked in medicine and knew enough to be convincing to many patients. He claimed the M.D. title and said he had privileges at two local hospitals.
To avoid falling victim to someone like this, find your state’s medical board and research whether your doctor is properly licensed. It’s easy to do. In New York, plastic surgery professionals and other medical practitioners are listed on www.health.ny.gov. Search for your state’s medical board and you’ll find it.
As a final check, you can call the hospital(s) where your plastic surgeon has admitting privileges and make sure he or she can indeed bring patients in if necessary. In the very rare case that you might need hospital care, you want to know a reputable local facility would admit you and your plastic surgeon.
There are many other ways you can learn about a plastic surgeon, including word of mouth and online reviews. These can be helpful too, but be aware that this kind of information is subjective, and in the case of web-based reviews, can even be questionable.
We urge you to do all the research you can on licensing and certification, then rely on your own judgment. The best way to make final decisions is to prepare thoroughly, then schedule a consultation when in-person information can fall into place.
If you’re considering plastic surgery in New York, give us a call at 212-570-6080. We would be glad to open our doors to you!