Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Should My Plastic Surgeon Be Board Certified?

There's good reason to check whether your plastic surgeon is Board Certified. Too often, news emerges with stories of patients who elect to go to providers who may not have the qualifications to perform cosmetic procedures or surgeries. With the popularity of cosmetic plastic surgery, it can attract unqualified (and sometimes unscrupulous) people who are lured by what they see as quick profit.

In some cases, the service provider may not even be a legitimate doctor. There have been several stories this past year about people posing as doctors and performing non-surgical procedures as well as actual surgeries in hotel rooms or back offices. There have been cases of people being injected with non-medical ingredients such as cement or silicone directly into the breasts, buttocks and even the face. These are highly toxic and can be extremely caustic, causing burns, infection, serious wounds and even disfigurement. Botox® and facial fillers are being used by people who have no training in facial nerve structure or the underlying muscles of the face, and mis-use of these products can result in droopy eyes, temporary paralysis, and even nerve damage.

In other cases, it may be a doctor who does not have sufficient training in this specialized field. They may be a generalist, gynecologist or other physician who has no formal training or experience in plastic surgery. They may have simply taken a weekend course in breast augmentation or liposuction and may have little experience with surgery. Generally people undergoing any type of surgery want someone with specialized training and competence.

Some are turning to the trend in "awake" surgeries. Procedures performed while the patient is "awake" can be risky if they do not have the equipment necessary to monitor a patient, do not have emergency equipment necessary to resuscitate a patient should there be a complication or if a licensed anesthesiologist is not in attendance during the surgical procedure. Even though the patient may be "awake", it does not decrease the risk associated with the sedation medications that patients are given. It is still surgery!

Tourist or vacation plastic surgery is also seeing an increase as those who want cosmetic surgery but don't want to or cannot pay the going rate seek alternatives. We've seen women who have flown to a foreign country such as Mexico, Asia or South America to receive a $2,000 tummy tuck and now have complications such as severe infection or a poor outcome that could cost many more thousands to try to correct. It is rare to receive appropriate pre-operative and post-operative care at foreign facilities, with patients eager to get on with the vacation end of their trip, or in getting back home, putting themselves at even greater risk of complications. It is usually recommended that you do not fly for at least 2 weeks or more following any type of surgery, and cosmetic plastic surgery is no exception.

So what is the difference between an internist and a plastic surgeon?

Obtaining a medical license to diagnose and treat patients means a physician meets a minimum level of competency requirements to become a doctor, but it is not specific to any one specialty. Board Certification demonstrates a level of expertise in a specialty and is considered the "Gold Standard". Board Certification by the ABPS ensures that the surgeon has had at least six years of surgical training, years of surgical experience, has passed both oral and written exams and has had surgical cases reviewed by the Board in order to demonstrate proficiency within the field of plastic surgery. They certify that they only operate in accredited medical facilities such as hospitals and accredited outpatient surgery centers. They are licensed physicians who have made a choice to make plastic surgery their primary focus as a medical professional.

Robert N. Young, founder of Aesthetic Enhancement Cosmetic Surgery & Laser Center, is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with over 30 years experience. He has been trained and has extensive experience both as a reconstructive plastic surgeon and a cosmetic plastic surgeon. As a leading breast augmentation specialist in San Antonio, Texas, Dr. Young is a member of the following professional organizations:

• ABPS Diplomate - Board Certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)

• Member, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)

• Member, American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)

• Fellow, American College of Surgeons

• Member, Texas Medical Society (TMS)

• Member, San Antonio International Society of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery (SAISPRS)

• Bexar County Medical Society (BCMS)

• Accreditation by the American Association for Ambulatory Surgical Facilities (AAAASF)

Dr. Robert N. Young encourages patients to take the time to check the credentials of anyone you're considering for cosmetic surgery procedures. The two major societies, the ASAPS and ASPS are good resources for more information about plastic surgery and Board Certified Plastic Surgeons around the country.

Herald Tribune - Plastic Surgeons Warn of Trade's Dark Side
Locate A Doc - Cosmetic Surgeon Imposter Jailed for Practicing Without a License
The Baltimore Sun - Health Officials Alarmed Over Silicone Injections For Fuller Buttocks
The Smoking Gun - Silicone Sister Busted For Butt, Hip Injections
USA Today - Lack Of Training Can Be Deadly In Cosmetic Surgery