Some years ago, I read an excellent piece by the late Irene Talamás, MD in a little book of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Talamás devoted a chapter to “How to choose a Plastic Surgeon” and I was impressed by the completeness of its coverage. In preparing this web page, I recalled the book and was able to contact the author’s son who gave me several copies of her works.
Following Dr. Talamás’s basic structure (and with some updating to meet the changes that have occurred in the field of Plastic Surgery) I will present what I consider to be important in choosing a good Plastic Surgeon. I have listed them by order of importance.
This is one of the most critical considerations in selecting the doctor who will perform your Plastic Surgery. It may be someone who has undergone a surgery themselves and are happy with the process and results. On the other hand, it may be by word-of-mouth through a second or third party. A Plastic Surgeon with a good reputation may be recommended by more than one person.
POST GRADUATE CERTIFICATION (AMCPER)
The second most important tool in selecting a Plastic Surgeon is in checking credentials in order to be sure that they are fully qualified with formal post graduate training in the field of Plastic Surgery.
In Mexico, to be specialist in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery it is mandatory to enter post graduate training, after completing medical degree. This is followed by complete a minimum of 3 years in General Surgery and 3 years in Plastic Surgery. Upon completion of studies, a graduate writes his or her certification examination through the Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Recertification is required every 5 years in order to keep pace with developments in the field of Plastic Surgery.
The surgeon should be an active member of the Mexican Association of Aesthetic, Reconstructive and Plastic Surgery, (AMCPER) (click https://cirugiaplastica.mx to find more information regarding your Plastic Surgeon).
Let’s be honest: diplomas and certificates do not operate on patients, Plastic Surgeons do. But one who has a sound education and proven skills as well as staying current in the field through continuing education will be better able to meet the your needs.
During the initial meeting, you will have to decide whether you are comfortable with the Plastic Surgeon based not only on educational standards but on his/her level of ethics. A good surgeon is invaluable, especially the one who communicates honestly and explains what you need to know before you commit to surgery.
There is a saying in Plastic Surgery that tells: “Only the one who does not operate doesn’t have complications”. This is true, and your Plastic Surgeon should demonstrate his/her commitment to your well-being by informing you, not only of successful cases, but of the potential risks and complications of your surgery.
A well-trained Plastic Surgeon has a number of different approaches for treating various problems, should one arise. This not the case for lesser qualified individuals who tend not to take responsibility for complications and may lay the blame elsewhere, avoid the patient or be conveniently “unavailable” when you try to contact them.
A good way to learn about your Plastic Surgeon’s integrity and commitment is asking some of his former patients how he/she handled a difficult case, what type of complications occurred and how he/she managed them.
AGE AND EXPERIENCE
A paradoxical phenomenon often occurs most of the arts and sciences – the young professional has fresher knowledge and better retention of things just learned, but older practitioners have more experience, resources and prudence when it comes to regular and non-predictable situations, and therefore possess greater ability. This creates a dilemma for some. Only you can make the choice that is right for you.
Plastic Surgery should be attainable by everyone. For those who do not have immediate funds on hand, financing is often available. As Aesthetic Surgery is an elective procedure, the process may be done after a period of saving for it. Comparison shop for a surgeon whose fees are reasonable.
Some procedures require enhanced surgical skills beyond the usual parameters. These include certain reconstruction surgeries such as ear and nose, microsurgery (surgery done with the use of a microscope) and certain aesthetic surgeries. You should select a surgeon who has proven skills and excellent manual dexterity. This is demonstrated through ‘before and after’ photos of the surgeon’s former patients.
Nowadays, educational material and updates in Plastic Surgery are printed in English. Therefore, a bilingual surgeon is likely to have a better understanding of the learning materials. As medical tourism becomes more prevalent, it is desirable to have a surgeon who is fluent in English. with whom you can verbally communicate with the information
HOSPITALS AND SHORT STAY UNITS
For Plastic Surgeons, surgery is an every day matter. For a patient, it is a unique life event that will remain in the memory for years to come. Therefore, the hospital is one the most important elements of your Surgery.
Plastic Surgery is a matter of teamwork performed in a reputable hospital. The team is comprised of the Plastic Surgeon, a surgical assistant, an Anesthesiologist and nurses. However, when it comes to Plastic Surgery, a general hospital is not necessary and are often more impersonal and expensive. Plastic Surgery Clinics or Short Stay Units are more commonly used to perform Plastic Surgery. Most of these facilities are independent health care centers. Some may be are part of general hospital operating as a separate entity so you won’t be charged a full hospital fee.
The anesthesiologist is the medical specialist will put you to sleep in your operation. The importance of the anesthesiologist cannot be underestimated and deserves a special section (click Anesthesia and You).
A pre-surgery consultation with the anesthesiologist is mandatory. During this meeting he/she will discuss your health history and answer any questions you may have about your procedure. Having met the anesthesiologist before your surgery will increase your confidence and comfort level at the time of your surgery.