Some would say that there are two types of people in the world: those who research every decision they make and those who spontaneously jump in head-first. In most situations, it’s best to find a happy medium. But when you’re preparing for cosmetic surgery, you need to curve toward the researcher’s side. Being educated about the process ahead can help you choose the right procedure, surgeon, and other options. If you’re a first-time patient, though, it’s difficult to know how to get started on your plastic surgery journey. Here are a few tips to help:
The internet holds a huge amount of valuable and accurate information…but it has just as much information that is poor quality, incomplete, or flat wrong. When it comes to your health, it’s crucial to be able to rely on your sources, even with cosmetic surgeries like a facelift. Here are a few that I feel confident in as a board-certified plastic surgeon:
- com, by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPs)
- org, by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)
- com and AtlantaFacelift.com, my own websites with content that I personally oversee
- gov, by the US National Institute of Health
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it’s a helpful starting point.
- Know What to Look for in a Surgeon
Researching is essential for choosing your plastic surgeon wisely. Not every doctor who claims to be a “cosmetic surgeon” is truly qualified. Look specifically for the words “board-certified plastic surgeon.” There is not a “cosmetic surgery” board that is recognized by the American Medical Association.
On top of a surgeon’s board certification, you may want to find out what professional organizations they’re in. Groups like the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons have certain requirements (including but beyond board certification) that a surgeon must meet. If a surgeon is a part of one or both of these groups, it’s a sign of a strong record.
- Research the Facility Where the Surgery will be Done
Depending on your procedure, it may be performed in-office (as with my minimally invasive Band Aid Facelift and other Band Aid procedures) or in a surgical facility. For surgeries that require general anesthesia, you’ll want to make sure that they will be performed in a facility accredited by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF), the American Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), or the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations. The facility should also have a license to operate in your state. Organizations like these ensure that the facility has adequate personnel, equipment, and cleanliness to perform surgery safely.
- In Patient Experiences, Look for Patterns, not Anecdotes
Everyone has seen more than a few tabloid covers “exposing celebs’ bad plastic surgery,” and this can make any patient nervous. I don’t generally recommend going online and reading about other plastic surgery patients’ experiences unless they’re patients of the same surgeon and have had a similar procedure to the one you’re considering. Patients are much less likely to make a post online if their surgery was uneventful and successful, and there are so many variables that can contribute to the outcome of plastic surgery. If you do read other patients’ stories, keep in mind that you’re only getting the information that the poster wants you to have, and that you’ll get a more accurate idea of a surgery when you look at common patterns among many patients, rather than a few anecdotes.
- Rely on Personal Advice of Plastic Surgeons You’ve Consulted with
At the end of the day, the only person who can give you accurate medical advice and information about your plastic surgery is a qualified plastic surgeon who has examined you and completed an in-person cosmetic surgery consultation with you. Every procedure is unique, so if you have questions about what your surgery will entail or about whether your recovery is going as planned, call your surgeon rather than going onto Google.
Getting the best and safest plastic surgery results will depend on much more than just a few hours of surgery. As a patient, you have the power to make sure you’re getting the best treatment available, and you need to be your own advocate. Following the tips above can be a helpful start. For more questions or to take the next step with an in-person meeting, schedule a plastic surgery consultation with me today. For more helpful cosmetic surgery tips, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.