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Do Your Homework When Considering Cosmetic Surgery

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Undergoing plastic surgery is a huge and possibly life-altering decision, and choosing the right plastic surgeon is a crucial aspect to the outcomes one can anticipate. Doing your homework before choosing a surgeon is an important first step to making an informed and safe decision about any cosmetic procedure you may be interested in. One way to do this is by being sure to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon. 

What does board certification mean, and why does it matter
There are many valid medical boards in the United States, but surprisingly a doctor doesn’t have to belong to any of them in order to offer cosmetic procedures. Certification by a board means that a physician is recognized as having expertise in a particular specialty There is only one that guarantees doctors were appropriately trained in plastic/cosmetic surgery and that is the American Board of Plastic Surgery. 

Many “cosmetic doctors” will claim to have experience and training when it is often no more than a weekend course and a phony certificate. They will often offer to perform procedures while you are awake in order to save you money. While they may claim the procedure can comfortably and safely be performed while you are awake, that is often their only option, as inadequately trained physicians will not be given privileges to perform operations at hospitals or accredited outpatient surgical facilities. In order for a physician to be granted these privileges, they must have the appropriate surgical training in their specialty and a proven record of safety.

Studies have analyzed tens of thousands of patient reviews across hundreds of procedures, and the results are incredibly clear. The most reliable outcomes and highest degrees of satisfaction happen when people are in the hands of physicians who have proven experience and training in the field.

What homework should I do as a patient?
It’s scary, but the law doesn’t protect patients from doctors who don’t have the proper training. There is a rising trend of “cosmetic doctors;” for example, dentists can legally perform liposuction, gynecologists can do breast augmentation, and even psychologists are offering Botox®! The problem’s only getting worse with the growth of coupon sites, group buying specials and social media marketing, which often put pressure on consumers to buy immediately instead of encouraging research. As a diligent patient, you should not only look at board certification, but also what specific procedures a doctor specializes in. 

Another emerging trend is that of “travel medicine.” It is becoming increasingly common for patients to travel to other parts of the country or abroad to undergo cosmetic procedures, often under the premise of saving money. What they frequently do not consider is who will care for them after surgery if they should have questions or possibly even a complication. When their surgeon is hundreds or thousands of miles away, patients will often find themselves in a position with no one to care for them, requiring them to seek emergency care at their own expense. 

If you want to minimize risk and have a better chance of getting excellent results, board certification matters. Being certified in a specialty means being recognized as an expert in that specialty; why wouldn’t you want to go to an expert? When it comes to your health and your body, you should never compromise based solely on convenience or price.

When deciding on whether or not to undergo cosmetic surgery, your first concern should always be for your safety and comfort. Seeking consultation from a well-trained, board certified plastic surgeon will assure that your safety is priority number one.

Bottom line: look for a board-certified plastic surgeon who has a proven track record with the surgery you want and who will be readily accessible to care for you after the surgery.

Written by: Dr. Nathan A. Kludt

Dr. Nathan A. Kludt, a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, received a BS from the University of California, Davis, with highest honors, and his MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School, where he was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha, the National Medical Honor Society. He returned to UC Davis, where he completed his general surgery residency before being accepted into the plastic surgery program at UC Davis. Dr. Kludt has been published in the Annals of Plastic Surgery and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and has presented at the California Society of Plastic Surgeons meetings and multiple other regional and national plastic surgery meetings. He is a member of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the California Society of Plastic Surgeons, the California Medical Society and the San Joaquin Medical Society.