Patients considering cosmetic surgery should know that choosing the right surgeon is the single most important decision they will make. Today, many doctors perform cosmetic plastic surgery but not all of them have trained as plastic surgeons. Once doctors get their medical degrees, they may practice any specialty, even if they have not completed advanced training in the field they have chosen. And so, a doctor who performs cosmetic plastic surgery is not necessarily trained as a plastic surgeon. To ensure the best results for the surgery you are considering, choose an authentic plastic surgeon with the training and experience that is essential for the success of your surgery.
As you consider different surgeons and visit their websites, they should provide you with basic information about plastic surgery and the various procedures available. You should be able to find information about the surgeon’s formal training and experience. From the website, you should also be able to get an idea about the surgeon’s basic approach and philosophy on cosmetic surgery and patient care.
Select a surgeon who has completed at least five to six years of formal training in plastic and reconstructive surgery in accredited training hospitals. There are residency training programs in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery which are accredited by the Philippine Board of Plastic Surgery and the Philippine College of Surgeons. Examples of accredited training programs are those offered by the UP-PGH Medical Center, UST, and the consortium programs approved by the Philippine Board of Plastic Surgery where residents rotate in various hospitals. Training includes three to five years of general surgery residency and two to three years of plastic surgery residency. Doctors who have completed residency training in plastic and reconstructive surgery are the only doctors who can rightfully claim to be plastic surgeons.
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. After the doctor passes both written and oral examinations, he becomes a “board-certified” plastic surgeon.
Many doctors who perform cosmetic surgery procedures are board-certified in specialties other than plastic surgery or may even lack such credentials. It is recommended that the patient choose a plastic surgeon who is duly certified by the Philippine Board of Plastic Surgery, the only organization recognized by the Philippine College of Surgeons to grant board certification in the field of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery in the Philippines.
Good credentials provide a reasonable indication of a doctor’s qualification to perform cosmetic surgery, and should serve as the basic starting point. Patients should then ask the surgeon about his experience. How long has he been in practice and how many times has he done the procedure you are considering? The broader your surgeon’s experience, the greater your chances for a successful surgery.
Another factor to consider is whether the surgeon has hospital privileges. Before a hospital grants privileges to physicians, they usually require certain standards of training and competence to be met. Although many cosmetic surgery procedures may be safely done in outpatient clinics, others should only be done in a hospital setting. It is best to choose a surgeon who has hospital privileges.
Find a plastic surgeon whom you feel comfortable with. When consulting for the first time, make sure that your plastic surgeon spends enough time to thoroughly examine and evaluate you and the work that you wish to have done. It is very important that you feel totally comfortable and confident with your surgeon as he will be responsible for the final result of your surgery. You should be able to communicate easily with him to clearly convey what your wishes. You should also be able to ask him all your questions and discuss your needs and expectations. Make sure you have all the facts you need in order to make an informed judgement.
A good plastic surgeon should be able to evaluate whether you are a good candidate for the surgery you are considering. He should be able to educate you about your options and give you advice about the best technique for your needs. If there are less invasive or non-surgical procedures that could fulfill your needs, the surgeon should be able to tell you about them.
Realize that pre- and post-operative photos of the surgeon’s patients can be useful in helping you understand the surgery but are no guarantee that your results will be similar. Every individual is different.
Beware of any doctor who tells you there are no possible risks involved in surgery. There are always risks, and these should be discussed frankly.
Never allow a doctor to talk you into any procedure you don’t want. A reputable plastic surgeon will let the patient suggest what he or she wants done and then advise them on what is or is not possible.
Be skeptical of any doctor who seems to avoid talking about his or her training and professional qualifications.
Although price is definitely a factor when considering elective surgery, don’t “bargain shop” for plastic surgery. Any surgery is still surgery and has some uncertainty and risk involved. When price is the primary factor for choosing a plastic surgeon, risks increase. Good plastic surgeons may charge relatively affordable fees, especially if they practice in Asian countries like the Philippines, where cost of living expenses are low and if they can keep overhead costs low by having modest outpatient surgery clinics. But think twice if the surgeon you’re considering charges much lower than other plastic surgeons in the same country. Even when you go to popular clinics where a number of surgeons practice as a group, take a look at the qualifications of the particular surgeon who will be handling your case. The success of your surgery is largely dependent on your choice of surgeon and professional qualifications and experience should be your main consideration in selecting your plastic surgeon.