1. Who is a plastic surgeon?A board-certified plastic surgeon is a doctor trained to be a concerned care-giver, a problem solver, an artist-designer, and a meticulous surgeon. It is important to note that not every doctor who claimed to be a “plastic surgeon” has the same training. The fact is that anyone with a medical degree can call himself or herself a plastic surgeon. There is no law that require doctors offering specialty care to meet certain qualifications. When looking at an advertisement, a non-certified surgeon will conveniently omit status of board certification or will put board-certified but no specific name of the board. This should clue the patients to checking the surgeon more carefully.

2. How do I find a board-certified plastic surgeon?Patients are advised to consider a doctor who has completed an accredited residency training program specifically in plastic surgery. He or she should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), which is the only board that is recognized by the American Board of Specialties. To receive certification the candidate must graduate from an accredited program and pass a comprehensive written and oral examinations. Good credentials do not guarantee a successful outcome, but they can guide patients to select a surgeon whose training and background will help you to meet your personal goals.

3. How to locate a board-certified plastic surgeon?Patients may call the Plastic Surgery Information Service at 1-800-635-0635 to receive the names of plastic surgeons in their area who are certified by the ABPS. In addition, patients can access the same information at www.plasticsurgery.org

4. What to look for in a consultation?It is important that you have a personal consultation with the plastic surgeon of your choice. If you do not get to see the physician himself or herself during the initial consultation you should reconsider the choice. During the consultation, the surgeon will explain the procedure, the risks involved, and the probability of success. You are encouraged to research the topic ahead of time and bring a list of questions. The plastic surgeon will review your medical history to evaluate any medical condition that might affect the surgical result. Your expectations and goals are also discussed to make certain the desired surgical outcome is realistic.

5. What types of anesthesia used by plastic surgeons?There are three basic types of anesthesia used for plastic procedures. A local injection, which numbs only the immediate area to be operated on, is used for mainly less invasive procedures. Local injection plus sedation allows the patient to remain awake yet relaxed through the entire procedure and is a common type used for cosmetic surgery. General anesthesia, which allows a patient to sleep through the procedure, is usually used when large areas of the body are involved or multiple procedures at one setting.

6. Where are most procedures performed?Whether a procedure is performed in an office surgical facility, a hospital, or a freestanding surgery center usually depends upon the complexity of the operation and the plastic surgeon’s recommendation. For cost-containment and convenience, most cosmetic procedures are being performed in an office-based facility or surgery center on an outpatient basis.

7. How do I know if the office-based facility is safe?One sign of a quality facility is accreditation by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF). This organization not only inspects the facility itself, but also requires that the practicing physicians are certified in plastic surgery and have operating privileges at a local accredited hospital. A patient can check if a plastic surgeon’s facility is accredited by phone 1-888-545-5222 (toll free) or www.aaaasf.org