So, you’ve decided that you want to make a change—and you’re ready to find the perfect plastic surgeon for you. Congratulations! Cosmetic surgery can be a life-changing and confidence-boosting experience, and it has helped millions feel more at home with themselves.
Now that you’re ready to move forward, it’s time to consider one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make: who to choose to perform your procedure. When it comes to selecting your plastic surgeon, there are many things to consider. From the results in their before and after gallery and quality of their online reviews to their experience with your procedure of interest, you have a lot to contemplate.
While all of the above factors are incredibly important, there are a few particular boxes that need to be checked with every surgeon you consult with. Because you are entrusting your health, wellbeing, and the quality of your results to your surgeon, it is absolutely critical that you verify their education, experience, who they work with, and their hospital privileges.
Here are the top three questions you should be asking any potential plastic surgeon:
1. What are your credentials?
It’s a common misconception that all physicians who call themselves plastic surgeons have similar training and experience—and, unfortunately, there are no laws preventing doctors from performing cosmetic surgery in their offices without the proper training. Additionally, plastic surgery is a diverse specialty, and some surgeons have greater experience in particular areas. For instance, if you’re considering a mommy makeover, it would NOT be in your best interest to choose a surgeon who primarily focuses his or her practice on reconstructive surgery, such as operating on burn victims or children with cleft lips.
As you begin researching surgeons, there’s a key phrase that you should look for: board certified plastic surgeon. This means he or she completed a plastic surgery residency program, met high standards of training, and continues to maintain their certification every few years through continuing education and re-examination. If a surgeon is advertising plastic surgery board certification, visit the American Board of Plastic Surgery website to verify their status.
Also be sure to ask if they are a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), an accredited continuing medical education organization dedicated to advancing the “science, art, and safe practice of aesthetic plastic surgery.” Members of the organization have chosen to specialize in cosmetic surgery following their plastic surgery board certification and have met strict training and experience requirements. You can verify membership of a surgeon here.
2. Where will my procedure be performed?
Imagine going out to eat at a restaurant that wasn’t required to meet cleanliness criteria per the Health Department. While the space may seem relatively clean outside the kitchen, with no oversight in place, you could be putting yourself at risk for food poisoning. The inspection plaque we see on every restaurant wall is both peace of mind for the consumer and a reminder to the proprietor to handle all food safely in a clean environment.
The same holds true for your healthcare provider. Don’t take for granted that your surgeon will be performing your procedure in a safe, clean, and well equipped environment. As we mentioned earlier, non-specialty trained surgeons are legally allowed to perform surgery in their office—without the oversight of an accrediting organization or hospital-level safety measures in place!
Board certified plastic surgeons, on the other hand, are required to operate in a fully accredited surgical suite or hospital to maintain their certification. There are two primary accrediting agencies: the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) and the Joint Commission. These organizations oversee the quality of healthcare in outpatient surgical facilities with the goal of holding them to hospital standards—and they require facilities and surgeons to meet certain safety criteria throughout the life of the facility to maintain accreditation.
3. Who will be administering my anesthesia?
Once you’ve established the training, experience, and credentials of your plastic surgeon and that your operation will be performed in an accredited surgical facility, it’s time to look at the staff who will be assisting your surgeon in the OR—particularly the anesthesiologist.
For any procedure that requires you to go under general anesthesia, the experience of your anesthesia provider is paramount to your safety. That’s because they will not only be administering the medication, they will also be monitoring your condition and supporting the function of your vital organs throughout the entire surgery. Their expertise plays a major role in the outcome of your procedure.
There are two types of anesthesia providers: nurse anesthetists and MD anesthesiologists. An anesthetist is a certified nurse who has been trained to provide anesthesia. A board certified anesthesiologist is a physician who has completed their medical degree and residency in anesthesiology and then received board certification. Plastic surgeons operating in an accredited surgery center are required to work only with MD anesthesiologists to ensure the safest experience.
Honolulu plastic surgeon Dr. Larry Schlesinger fits the bill
If you are in Honolulu and considering a cosmetic surgery procedure, we encourage you to contact us and schedule a consultation with Dr. Schlesinger. As a board certified plastic surgeon and member of ASAPS, Dr. Schlesinger performs all procedures in his state-of-the-art, AAAASF accredited surgical facility and works only with board certified anesthesiologists and highly trained OR staff.
During your consult, we’d be happy to help you explore your options, tell you more about our facility and staff, and answer any questions you may have. We look forward to meeting you!