What You Should Know When Choosing Your Plastic Surgeon

When considering plastic surgery, it’s natural to focus more on the expected result than on the surgical process. However, to be fully informed, it’s important to learn about the safety of the plastic surgery procedure as well as the expected outcome. Although thousands of people have plastic surgery every year without complications, no surgical procedure is risk-free. To maximize safety, ensure that:

  • Your Plastic Surgeon is adequately trained and is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery;
  • The facility where your cosmetic surgery procedure will be performed conforms to strict safety standards;
  • Your Plastic Surgeon is informed of any drugs you are taking and your full medical history, especially if you have had any circulation disorders, heart or lung ailments or problems with blood clots;
  • The surgical facility will use skilled, licensed personnel to administer and monitor your anesthesia and your recovery immediately following the procedure;
  • Extra safety measures are taken if you are having a more extensive procedure.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), an organization of board-certified Plastic Surgeons who are dedicated to the highest standards of patient care, has prepared this document to help you get the safety information you need. It contains recommendations developed by the society’s expert task force, whose members have consulted the most recent research available. If you have questions about these guidelines or any specific concerns not covered in this document, talk with your board-certified Plastic Surgeon.

How can I be sure that my Plastic Surgeon has adequate training?

Good credentials cannot guarantee a successful outcome; however, they can significantly increase the likelihood of it. Potential plastic surgery patients are advised to find a Plastic Surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties to certify a surgeon in plastic surgery of the face and of the entire body. Certification by the ABPS is “the gold standard” for Plastic Surgeons because it signifies that the Plastic Surgeon has had formal training in an accredited plastic surgery residency program. If your surgeon is ABPS-certified, you can be assured that your Plastic Surgeon:

  • has completed at least five years of surgical residency training after medical school, including at least two years in plastic surgery
  • has passed comprehensive cosmetic and reconstructive surgery exams
  • is qualified to perform cosmetic and reconstructive procedures – everything from LipoSelectionSM by VASER® to facelifts to intricate wound repair.

To verify a Plastic Surgeon’s certification status, contact the American Board of Plastic Surgery at 215-587-9322 or visit the board’s web site at www.abplsurg.org or the American Board of Medical Specialties at www.abms.org or by phoning 1-800-776-2378

Why is it so important for my Plastic Surgeon to know detailed information about my personal and family health history, even if I am only having a simple cosmetic surgery procedure?

There is always risk with any surgical procedure whether it is cosmetic surgery or routine surgery. However, as a patient, you can play an important role in reducing your risk by providing a full and complete health history to your surgeon.

Although rare, one of the most serious complications associated with surgery is the development of blood clots in the large veins of the abdomen and legs. This complication can lead to a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism (blocked lung artery). Therefore, it is extremely important to tell your Plastic Surgeon if you or any of your family members have a history of blood clots or if you have had a family member who died suddenly, shortly after surgery or childbirth.

You will also be evaluated for other factors that may increase the risk of blood clots. These include:

  • being extremely overweight
  • having recent traumatic injury
  • any disorder of the heart, lungs or central nervous system
  • a history of cancer, recurrent severe infection or genetic problems that affect blood clotting

For women, additional risk factors include:

  • taking oral contraceptives or having recently ceased taking them
  • undergoing hormone-replacement therapy

Safety measures to prevent blood clots will be determined by your individual degree of risk. If you are considered low risk, your doctor may simply ensure that you are positioned on the operating table in a way that allows for adequate blood circulation to the legs. If you are of moderate or high risk for developing blood clots, you may also be advised to wear elastic stockings before, during and after your procedure, or to take special anti-clotting medications. Compression devices on the legs may be used during surgery to support your normal circulation.

Safety is a Team Effort

Quality patient care, safety and successful surgical outcomes are the result of the patient, the surgeon and the surgical staff working together to give you the best results possible.