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How to Make the Right Choice


  • Defining aesthetic and cosmetic surgery

“Aesthetic” and “cosmetic” surgeries are synonymous terms used to describe elective medical treatment to enhance your appearance.  Both categories fall under the medical specialty of plastic surgery.  Plastic Surgery encompasses procedures of the face and entire body that are either “aesthetic/cosmetic” or “reconstructive”.  Reconstructive procedures restore a more normal appearance to the face or body after experiencing the effects of trauma, disease or congenital defects.



Legally, any doctor can offer plastic surgery or cosmetic serves regardless of his or her recognized board certification, training and skill level.  This means that any medical doctor with the means or desire to market cosmetic services can do so without the proper training.  Technically your gynecologist or internist, or any licensed medical doctor can perform a facelift, a breast lift or even inject BOTOX.  Deciphering credentials can be confusing, and credentials alone are no guarantee.

The difference among providers lies in training and board certifications by an appropriate medical specialty board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialities (ABMS).

In the United States, the ABMS is the umbrella organization for the 24 approved and defined medical specialties.  There are many medical boards that do not fall under the ABMS; and these credentials are of no value when choosing an appropriate aesthetic surgery provider. 


                           How to Make the Right Choice in Choosing your Plastic Surgeon

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Only the very select few specialties defined by the ABMS have core training and rigorous testing specific to cosmetic procedures within that specialty:

  • Plastic SurgeryHead to toe, the skin including the face, breast and body                    

  • Dermatology:   The skin, hair and nails

  • Otolaryngology:   Ears, nose and throat with a specialization for the face, head and neck

  • Ophthalmology:   The eyelids and surrounding structures


You should gather a list of possible plastic surgeons you would like to have consults with, and then start your research by putting their names in major search engines, such as Google, to find out all that you can about this surgeon.  Disciplinary actions are normally listed through the State Medical Board Websites.

Check on whether or not the surgeon’s malpractice insurance has ever been cancelled.  Alarmingly, most physicians can get malpractice insurance no matter how bad their record is.  There are some states, like the State of Florida that will allow a surgeon not to carry insurance, but will require them to put up a bond.  Make sure you check out what your state laws are regarding this important factor.

Checking on memberships in professional associations, such as American Board of Plastic Surgery, The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery will help you to decide whether or not this plastic surgeon is for you.  

You shouldn’t choose a doctor alone on credentials, as there are always other factors to weigh in.  Experience and your personal preferences are important too.  Making a choice based on the price of a procedure is not a good idea either.  There truly is no such thing as a discount on quality, skilled care.  You should start your consultation process out with making sure you visit at least two or three separate physicians, so that you can compare how you comfortable you feel with them, their opinions and the approaches they suggest.




Once you have chosen a doctor and are ready to accept treatment, you have entered into a partnership.  For cosmetic treatment, your doctor should take the lead by treating you with respect according to the accepted standards in practice.  You should pick up on that lead and follow every instruction you are given before, during, and after your procedure.  The treatment planned and your obligations as a patient will be spelled out to you in ‘The Informed Consent’ documents.  Prior to undergoing treatment, these documents are presented to you after a full discussion of any associated risks and complications. 

It treatment involves the use of injected or implanted devices or drugs, the informed consent documents must define specific brands, drugs or devices used.  Even if the treatment is one that you have had in the past, each visit requires your consent and full disclosure of the device or substance to be used during the course of treatment.  In the case of breast implants, the brand and type of implant must be defined. 

Following treatment, you must be given a serial number and a warranty card for the implant placed.  This is the only type of warranty you will ever receive on a cosmetic procedure.




Nothing is predicable in life let alone medicine.  Simply put there are no real guarantees.  Realistic expectations are important to the outcome of your procedure, (from the initial consultation through treatment, recovery and unexpected events).  You must not only choose a doctor you trust, but also forge a relationship that requires your participation, compliance, and candid communication between you and your surgeon. 

Trusting your life to someone requires complete confidence in that individual competence.  Every surgeon is good when things go well.  But in those unexpected cases when things do not go well you still need to feel as though you made the right decision.




You have chosen the right surgeon and you know the procedure recommended is right for you, but are you really ready for plastic surgery?  It is important that you do not take things too lightly and neither should your surgeon.  A good surgeon knows how to technically adapt to surgery and also know how to identify who are good candidates and who are not.


  1. Are you or someone close to you going through significant life changes?

If so, you might want to put off any cosmetic procedure until your life settles down. 


  1. Are you making an impulse decision?

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons acknowledges that plastic surgery may not be suitable for patients who have been treated for any dependency or mental health condition in the past.  If you are currently being treated, you need to be candid with your surgeon and let him know what exactly is going on with your life.


  1. Are you doing this for yourself or for someone else?

If someone is pressuring you into surgery, you should resist.  The desire for plastic surgery needs to come from within yourself as you are going to be the one that has to live with the surgery and the outcome for the rest of your life.  Plastic Surgery can make other people in your life happy as well as yourself.  It is ethically mandatory that the surgery be what you want rather than being pressured into this by someone else. 


  1. What are your goals?

Having realistic goals about your procedure is paramount.  If you are 57 and you want the surgeon to make you look like you are 17 again, then you are settling yourself up for a huge disappointment.  The same applies if you are aiming to change who you are rather than changing certain aspects of your appearance. 


  1. Is the outcome you are looking for radical and unnatural?

We all need to remember that plastic surgery is permanent for the most part or until we go back for a revision.  It isn’t something to be taken lightly, as it isn’t going in for a haircut.  However, everyone has their own ideals with what they want out of a procedure, and the only person you should be listening to besides your plastic surgeon is yourself. 


  1. What are your real motivations for the surgery?

And ideal candidate for surgery is someone who feels totally comfortable with who she is, doesn’t perceive herself as deformed, but just has one specific problem she wants to improve.  Surgery can be transforming, however it doesn’t transform you into someone else. 


  1. Do you expect surgery to change your life?

Plastic surgery cannot change your marriage or find the perfect relationship or job.  Surgery however does give a patient new found confidence to face your challenges.  Everyone needs the motivation and the power within themselves to make changes in your own life.  


  1. Are you prepared for depression, confusion, or disappointment after surgery?

Even if everything goes well with the surgery, getting the blues during the healing process is very normal.  You may be sore and bruised… may not look like yourself and you might not see immediate results.  The new look will take some time to get use to. 


  1. Do you know the risks of the procedure and are you willing to accept these risks?

You need to know that sometimes things do not come out exactly as you have planned.  You need to ask yourself, if you can handle the outcome if it isn’t exactly what you have expected.  Realizing that there are no guarantees is so important. 


  1. Do you feel as though you are psychologically ready for surgery?  Do you have the emotional and logistical support to see this through?

Depending on the procedure you need to have someone to take you to the doctor and to care for you after.  You want this person to be someone who will not mind running errands for you and can be a pillar of support during the emotional let down after surgery.





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