Credentials: Your Cosmetic Surgery - Ask the Right Questions
NEW YORK, NY (April 10, 2003)
You may want to discuss the following points before scheduling your consultation:
Ask if the doctor is 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 bullet) and has also met other special requirements for cosmetic surgery experience and continuing education.
Ask if 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.
Ask about the doctor's hospital privileges. Some surgical procedures can safely be performed in the doctor's office or other 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 would like to have performed. 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 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). Facilites 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.
During your consultation, the following questions can be discussed with the surgeon:
What experience does the doctor have in performing this 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 possible 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 postoperative 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's fee 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", or compromise, the training and experience of your surgeon are the most important factors in the success of your surgery. Do not compromise.