If you are considering cosmetic surgery, the most important decision you will make is your choice of surgeon. If you want to minimize the risks and possible complications of surgery, choose a reliable, trustworthy and qualified plastic surgeon who has had the trainng and experience necessary for the success of your surgery.
Many patients do not know where to start and what to look for when they start the process of choosing the right doctor. The choice becomes more complicated when they see that there are so many doctors offering cosmetic surgery services.
In the Philippines and many other countries, having a medical license allows a doctor to be able to practice a wide range of surgery, including cosmetic surgery, even if the doctor has not had extensive training in this particular field. Aside from the legitimate plastic surgeons, one may encounter general surgeons, ENT doctors, ophthalmologists, obstetrician-gynecologists, dermatologists and general practitioners all offering expertise as “cosmetic surgeons”. Thus, patients are not able to distinguish who are the doctors who have undergone legitimate training in cosmetic surgery.
What constitutes legitimate training in cosmetic surgery?
The first thing a prospective patient should look for in the credentials of a doctor is whether or not the doctor has completed an accredited training program in plastic surgery. Depending on the institution, this program involves a minimum of 5 years of residency training which consists of 3 years of general surgery and 2 years of plastic and reconstructive surgery.
Surgery training programs in the different hospitals and medical centers in the Philippines undergo an accreditation process by the Philippine College of Surgeons. Under the umbrella of the Philippine College of Surgeons are the different specialty boards that set the standards for the training programs of each specialty. For cosmetic surgery, the relevant board is the Philippine Board of Plastic Surgery.
There are 4 residency programs in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery which are accredited by the Philippine Board of Plastic Surgery and the Philippine College of Surgeons. These are the training programs of the UP-PGH Medical Center, UST, and the 2 consortium programs approved by the Philippine Board of Plastic Surgery where residents rotate in various hospitals.
After a doctor completes an accredited plastic surgery residency training program, he is already equipped with the basic surgical skills and surgical judgment to competently perform both cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery, and to start clinical private practice.
Completion of the accredited plastic residency training program enables the doctor to become a “board-eligible” plastic surgeon, meaning that he is qualified to take the written and oral examinations of the Philippine Board of Plastic Surgery. The Philippine Board of Plastic Surgery (PBPS) is the only organization recognized by the Philippine College of Surgeons to grant board certification in the field of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery in the Philippines. After the doctor passes both written and oral examinations, he becomes a “board-certified” plastic surgeon.
However, in the Philippines, there are two cosmetic surgery groups that have been organized by doctors who have not undergone the accredited plastic surgery residency training process. Each group has its own respective “board” and issues “board-certification” in cosmetic surgery. Thus, although these doctors are “board-certified in cosmetic surgery” by the boards of their respective association or society, one will find that while some have of them have had training in general surgery, there are also many with limited or no surgical training at all, such as dermatologists and general practitioners. In this case, the patient cannot be assured of the surgeon’s surgical knowledge, surgical skill and surgical experience.
When considering cosmetic surgery, patients should exercise discretion in choosing a cosmetic surgeon. Upon entering a cosmetic surgeon’s office, the first thing a patient should do is to check whether the surgeon has undergone the proper accredited residency training program in plastic surgery. This is the most basic requirement in looking for a properly credentialed cosmetic surgeon.