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Frequently Asked Questions about Cosmetic Surgery

What is the difference between reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery?

Reconstructive surgery corrects defects (as in breast reconstruction after cancer surgery) or restores function, while cosmetic surgery is meant to improve a person’s normal appearance.

What does the term board-certified plastic surgeon mean? Aren’t all plastic surgeons “board-certified”?

You should know that physicians may call themselves “plastic surgeons” even if they were trained in a nonsurgical specialty. Anyone who has a medical license can call himself or herself a surgeon, even if he or she has no formal training in surgery. Some of these physicians without plastic surgery training may perform cosmetic surgery in their offices, but do not have privileges to perform these procedures at an accredited hospital. Physicians who are trained in plastic surgery, and board-certified by the ABPS, may also perform cosmetic surgery procedures in their offices. However, these trained and board certified plastic surgeons will also have hospital privileges at accredited hospitals. You should ask about – and check on – your plastic surgeon’s credentials and hospital privileges before undergoing any treatment or surgery. It is important that your doctor has hospital privileges to perform the proposed procedure, even in-office procedures. Hospitals give doctors privileges to do procedures that fit under their training guidelines. When we refer to a plastic surgeon as “board-certified”, we mean one who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The ABPS is the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to certify physicians in the full range of plastic and reconstructive procedures. To be certified by the ABPS, a physician must have at least five years of approved surgical training, including a residency in plastic surgery. He or she must also pass a comprehensive written and oral exams in plastic surgery. Your surgeon should complete a residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). In addition, the surgeon should be comfortable performing the procedure in which the patient is interested. Having the right credentials does not necessarily mean the doctor is skilled in specific types of surgery.

How can I find the top five, the top 10, the best, etc., plastic surgeon in my city or state?

There is no easy answer to that question. “The best” or “the top” is a relative term. Do you mean by “the best” or “top ten” the busiest plastic surgeon? The most experienced? The cosmetic surgeon who charges the most for each procedure? The most well-known? You must decide which board-certified plastic surgeon is best for you after doing a thorough investigation. As always, we suggest you begin by checking with the American Board of Plastic Surgery to be certain your cosmetic or plastic surgeon is board-certified in plastic surgery. Then contact your state board of medicine or medical examiners and check further on his or her credentials.

Can I eat whatever I want after liposuction? Can I return to smoking cigarettes and tanning after my facelift?

In a word, “no!” Plastic surgery is not meant to compensate for poor lifestyle choices. In fact, Dr. Poulos will refuse to perform surgery on patients with unhealthy personal habits or unrealistic surgical expectations. Also, although surgery is the most “permanent” method to reach a younger-looking appearance, remember you will continue to age regardless. As the years pass, you may find you need a second face lift, for example. It doesn’t mean the first surgery was unsuccessful; rather, that time has passed, you’ve aged, and your face and body reflect that biological fact.

Dr. So-and So can perform the same surgery at a much less expensive rate.

As in many things in life, you get what you pay for. Please question any surgeon who charges far less than the average fee of a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Is the physician Board Certified? What qualifications does the physician have? Is his or her medical license current? How many of these procedures has this person performed? Remember, this is surgery – your health and well-being is more precious than saving a few dollars on substandard care.

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