Plastic Surgery Secrets

Is Your Plastic Surgeon REALLY a Plastic Surgeon?

Is Your Plastic Surgeon REALLY a Plastic Surgeon?

When you find a plastic surgeon to seek out a consult with, is she or he actually a plastic surgeon? It seems a silly question, but too often the answer is a surprising “no.” Board certified plastic surgeons explain in the latest Plastic Surgery Secrets.

Can’t All Doctors Perform Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery?

Technically if you have a medical degree and license, you can perform surgery. Logic and good sense, however, dictate the more training and practice and education one has before offering plastic surgery, the better. Why go to a pediatrician when you really need someone specializing in plastic surgery?

Who’s What When it Comes to Plastic Surgery?

Board certified plastic surgeons are the only ones who have been highly trained to understand anatomy and a patient’s situation. A combination of years and years of experience, teaching, and surgical practice form the best approach to different surgeries. Whether they employ surgical or the ever-changing array of non-surgical technologies, experienced surgeons work to best achieve a great result AND keep you, the patient, safe.

Plastic surgeons perform operations that change the shape or appearance of part of a patient’s body. They not only perform cosmetic surgeries such as nose jobs or face lifts, but they also perform reconstructive surgeries for patients who have traumatic injuries, or to reconstruct breasts following mastectomy from breast cancer.

So, how can you tell?

1# Ask Straight Forward Questions

Family doctors, obstetricians and gynecologists, internists… they all can do plastic surgery, but board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Mike Lee of Dallas says patients should know who is doing their plastic and aesthetic surgery and what training they’ve had.

“Communicate your  concerns to your surgeon,” Dr. Lee says. “And see how much they educate you about what the problem is. If they can’t simply explain the changes that are happening on your face, then they probably don’t know enough to fix it. And certainly don’t be embarrassed to ask any and all questions you have. If the surgeon doesn’t seem like it is worth his or her time to answer every one of your questions thoroughly and patiently, I think it’s time you move on.”

#2 Be Wary of Slick Marketing

Ohio-based board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Craig Colville thinks there’s a proper place for ethical and honest plastic surgery marketing and advertising (along with reliable communication through social media), but he’s not so crazy about ads that arrive in the mail that seem to promise too much.

“Flashy web sites, emails that come out of nowhere, or discount coupons for plastic surgery are reasons for patients to raise the red flags of caution,” says Colville. “They should do as much to check out the qualifications of a surgeon who is going to change your body as you check out the credentials for a gardener or your car mechanic.”

#3 Don’t Be Bashful

Dr. Richard Zienowicz, a board certified plastic surgeon in Providence, RI, agrees with Dr. Lee: Don’t be bashful when you’re checking out a doctor’s qualifications.

“I have to tell you, I don’t thing there are that many people who pay that much attention,” Zienowicz mentions. “They get a referral from  friend who’s had a good result and they think ‘that’s enough.’ Well, how is that enough? Anybody can get an occasional good result. But if you’re going to put your body and ultimately your life to a surgeon, you really should know that this is going to be a very predictable thing. And that requires board certification, excellent education, and a tremendous focus on details.”


Regardless of their specialty, all plastic surgeons have consultations with patients. For many procedures, the consultation is as important as the actual operation, or even more so. The physician must communicate with the patient to determine the desired outcome of the surgery and to explain the possible risks and side effects of surgical procedures. Definitely in elective, aesthetic surgery, patients have the ability to ask not only about the outcomes predicted by the surgeon, but about the surgeons themselves.

It’s not the law that you only see a board certified plastic surgeon, but if the surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, that is the gold standard by which quality is judged. After all, it’s your body.

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