The first step to a successful plastic surgery procedure is choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon. This person should be an expert in the procedure you’re desiring, as well as someone you like and can build a relationship of trust with. Another important factor is understanding the facility where your surgeon operates. As veteran plastic surgeon Dr. Caroline Glicksman explains, it’s critical that the facility be fully accredited to ensure proper safety.
The Alphabet Soup of Safety
When considering plastic surgery, experts say it’s important to think about the path to success as two-pronged. First, a patient selects the right plastic surgeon. After that, a patient must begin to ask questions about the facility where the surgeon operates, which is equally important, according to Dr. Glicksman. “It’s important to like your plastic surgeon and make sure that person has experience, but it’s also important to pick a safe facility.”
Glicksman, who maintains a thriving plastic surgery practice in Sea Girt, New Jersey, says it’s important to seek out a facility that has received accreditation to ensure that basic safety standards are being met. “This will vary depending on what state you are in, but there are several independent licensing and regulatory agencies that control this,” she details. “One of them is called the AAAHC (Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care) and another is AAAASF (American Association for the Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery) and those are the letters that you should look for on a website or in an office to know what sort of facility your surgeon uses to perform surgery.”
It may seem like the ‘alphabet soup’ of safety, but Glicksman stresses that knowing fully which facility is accredited is very important in making a safe selection.
How Important is Accreditation?
It’s important to know that a surgeon can chose to operate in a hospital operating room or a facility that isn’t associated with a hospital. You should always check if the facility where the surgeon operates is either licensed or accredited. Dr. Glicksman says that is the only way to ensure that safety measures are being followed at a facility: if a facility receives accreditation, it means it has met certain guidelines related to safety, like state required certification, the monitoring of equipment, licensed staff, and, most importantly, infection and sterility control. “What this means is that the center has some type of an annual or semi-annual inspection. Usually the state or the accreditation agency inspects the facility,” she explains.
Who Will be Providing Anesthesia Services?
It’s also important to find out details about the people who will be assisting your surgeon with the plastic surgery procedure. One of those is another medical doctor – the anesthesiologist or Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). Dr. Glicksman says many patients neglect to investigate who will be performing this critical aspect of their procedure. “Anesthesia services should be contracted by the surgeon’s facility or by a group of board certified anesthesiologists,” explains Glicksman.
She says training, education, and experience are very important when considering who will administer your anesthesia. Some facilities allow a nurse anesthetist to administer anesthesia, but adds, “In most states they must have some sort of collaborative agreement with a group of anesthesiologists. It’s very important to make sure you are going to get individual attention by a board-certified anesthesiologist whenever possible. You must make sure that it’s someone who can handle an emergency should one arise.”
Dr. Glicksman performs all of her plastic surgery operations at Northern Monmouth Regional Surgery Center, which she says is accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO), as well as a Medicare accredited facility. “My surgery center happens to be co-owned by one of the large hospitals in the area and the surgeons who operate at the center. My patients get excellent care and are in the safest surroundings.” This is exactly the kind of care she wants for every patient.
Always, her best advice is to do proper research and ask questions. “When you are scheduling surgery with your plastic surgeon, make sure you are going to be seen and treated in an accredited facility and that there is going to be a board-certified anesthesiologist providing your anesthesia care,” she concludes. “That’s very important.”