Questions to Ask When Considering Plastic Surgery

Plastic Surgery Park CityFROM
Renato Saltz, past President, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)

SUBJECT
Questions to ask when considering cosmetic surgery

BACKGROUND
At the beginning of each new year, just about everyone makes a resolution to be healthier. Along with exercise and diet, many people consider plastic surgery as part of looking and feeling better.

An increasing number of non-surgeons and doctors certified in other specialties such as obstetrics and gynecology, even dentistry, are currently performing extremely complex—and potentially deadly—cosmetic procedures in Utah.

People considering plastic surgery should fully educate themselves on all the issues and risks. Following are some of the basic questions everyone should ask their doctor before making a decision.

QUESTIONS

Is the doctor a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)?
ASAPS membership ensures that the doctor is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (see next question) and has also met other special requirements for cosmetic surgery experience and continuing education.

Is the doctor is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)?
When a doctor claims to be “board certified,” ask by which board. Only one, the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to certify doctors in the specialty of plastic surgery.

Does the doctor have hospital privileges?
Some surgical procedures can be performed safely in the doctor’s office or another ambulatory surgical facility. However, it is important to find out if the doctor has operating privileges in an accredited hospital for the same procedure you are considering. Before granting operating privileges, hospital review committees evaluate a surgeon’s training and competency for specific procedures. If the doctor does not have hospital privileges to perform your procedure, look for another surgeon.

If the doctor operates in an ambulatory or office-based facility, ask if the facility is accredited. Although most states, including Utah, do not currently require ambulatory or office-based facilities to be accredited, voluntary application can be made to an accrediting body, such as the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF). Facilities accredited by AAAASF have met strict requirements for all aspects of operation, and such accreditation denotes a high standard of care. As of July 2002, ASAPS members performing plastic surgery in which anesthesia (other than local anesthesia and/or minimal tranquilization) is used must operate in a facility that meets at least one of the following criteria: accredited by a national or state-recognized accrediting organization, state-licensed, or Medicare-certified.

What experience does the doctor have in performing the specific procedure?
Ask what training has been completed, especially in new techniques, as well as how often he or she performs the procedure. Ask to see certificates of training.

What are the risks?
There are risks with any surgical procedure. Find out what they are, how often they occur, and how they will be handled if they do occur. If the doctor does not openly discuss the risks or says that there are no risks, seek another opinion.

What is the expected recovery for the procedure?
Important points to discuss are post-operative restrictions on activity and typical time periods for resuming work and social activities.

What is the doctor’s policy on surgical revisions?
A small percentage of cases may require surgical revisions to achieve the desired result. Find out about any costs for which you may be responsible.

How much will the surgery cost?
Cosmetic surgery is not covered by insurance, and payment usually is required in advance. Costs include the surgeon, and fees for the surgical facility and anesthesia. Other possible costs are the preoperative physical and blood work, medications, surgical garments, and private-duty nursing. While it is tempting to “bargain shop,” the training and experience of your surgeon are the most important factors in the success of your surgery. Do not compromise.