Considering aesthetic surgery? You need to do your research and become an informed consumer.

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Whose Hands Do I Choose? (How Do You Choose A Cosmetic Surgeon?) PART 1


Choosing the right physician to do any cosmetic procedure is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make. You need to take your time and come up with a plan.

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Part 1 of 2

Don't be swayed by expensive advertising in the newspaper, television shows such as THE SWAN, EXTREME MAKEOVER or internet, or by what you might read in a fashion magazine. Be careful of all the marketing that we are bombarded with everyday. Be careful when reading plastic surgery message boards and rating sites. Often negative posts about a doctor are removed after the board owners are threatened with doctor lawsuits. Of note, recently doctors are having their patients sign GAG ORDERS before their surgery, stating that if they are unhappy with their results they are forbidden to voice their dissatisfaction on the internet. If they do, they will be threatened with a lawsuit. Sadly, what this leads to is free advertising for the doctor since the happy patients are allowed to go on the message boards and sing praises of the doctor and in some cases these patients are actually encouraged by the doctors to do so. Recently, another troubling trend has popped up on message boards and doctor rating sites. Doctors are directing their employees to post multiple positive reviews and or are having them pose as patients on message boards raving about the doctors work. Also, physicians are hiring businesses called Online Reputation Management Firms. These companies spend hours scouring the internet looking for anything negative written about the doctor. Then they devise ways to get rid of it or to move it down in the search engine rankings. There are times when they get paid by doctors to regularly log onto all the plastic surgery message boards and rating sites to rave about them. Just like the doctors employees, they pose as patients and rave about what a wonderful surgeon so-and-so is and how they wouldn't go anywhere else and how the doctor changed their lives, etc. The more the physician pays, the more time the team will spend posting glowing reviews about the physician.

There are some very important guidelines to keep in mind when you are doing your research, such as the training and experience of a physician. Cosmetic surgery is not synonymous with plastic surgery. Any physician can call himself a cosmetic surgeon. The term "cosmetic surgeon" is unregulated. Physicians call themselves cosmetic surgeons to distinguish themselves from plastic surgeons. Plastic surgeons can do both cosmetic and reconstructive work. Only the American Board of Plastic Surgery can certify a plastic surgeon. This does not mean that calling oneself a cosmetic surgeon is a bad thing; it just means that you as a consumer need to ask more questions about what their board certification is in, their training, their societal affiliations and their experience. Realize that many physicians from different specialties do cosmetic surgery with significant differences in training. It is possible to take a weekend course in an operation or procedure and then call yourself a specialist in that technique.

Cosmetic surgery is available through plastic surgeons, otolaryngologists, opthalmologists, dermatologists and maxillofacial surgeons. Plastic surgeons can perform these procedures, however an otolaryngologist completing a plastic surgery fellowship would be just as proficient working on the head and neck area. Ophthalmologists who have done a fellowship in oculo-plastic surgery certainly would be able to do plastic surgery on the eyes. Also, maxillofacial surgeons who have had special training in the neck and face can also do plastic surgery on the eyes, nose, cheekbone and chin area. Dermatologists, who have trained in surgery of the skin, can be a good choice for laser resurfacing or the use of facial fillers. However, as with any physician that you plan to use, it is very important to check to make sure that these physicians are board certified in their specialty. Please check with your individual state licensing boards or a good place to start would be the website of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), where online you can verify the board certification of any physician.

The (ABMS) recognizes 24 boards that certify physicians. These physicians have to meet rigorous standards by their individual boards, which includes completion of four years of medical school, at least three years of a residency in their specialized field and passing grades on a written and oral exam. Besides being board certified, your surgeon should be a member of recognized medical societies. If you choose a plastic surgeon, he or she should belong to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) or the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (AAFPRS).

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (AAFPRS) is a national medical society of the AMA, which represents facial and reconstructive surgeons. Members of the AAFPRS are board-certified surgeons whose focus is surgery of the face, head, and neck. A majority of the members of this society are certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology. Others are certified in plastic surgery, ophthalmology and dermatology. Other organizations to check board certified physicians that you may be interested in would be, The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, American Society for Head and Neck Surgery, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and The American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ASOPRS).

Researching your physician, focusing on training, experience and recommendations may be one of the most important things you will ever do.

To do your research go to: Researching Your Physician

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To go to Part 2 of this article:
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