“Aesthetic” and “cosmetic” surgeries are synonymous terms used to
describe elective medical treatment to enhance your appearance.
Both categories fall under the medical specialty of plastic surgery.
Plastic Surgery encompasses procedures of the face and entire body
that are either “aesthetic/cosmetic” or “reconstructive”.
Reconstructive procedures restore a more normal appearance to the
face or body after experiencing the effects of trauma, disease or
Legally, any doctor can offer plastic surgery or cosmetic serves
regardless of his or her recognized board certification, training
and skill level. This means that any medical doctor with the
means or desire to market cosmetic services can do so without the
proper training. Technically your gynecologist or internist,
or any licensed medical doctor can perform a facelift, a
or even inject BOTOX. Deciphering credentials can be
confusing, and credentials alone are no guarantee.
In the United States, the
ABMS is the umbrella organization for the 24 approved and
defined medical specialties. There are many medical boards
that do not fall under the ABMS; and these credentials are of no
value when choosing an appropriate aesthetic surgery provider.
Licensed image for
Only the very select few specialties defined by the ABMS have core
training and rigorous testing specific to cosmetic procedures within
Head to toe, the skin including the face, breast
skin, hair and nails
nose and throat with a specialization for the face, head and
eyelids and surrounding structures
You should gather a list of possible plastic surgeons you would
like to have consults with, and then start your research by putting
their names in major search engines, such as Google, to find out all
that you can about this surgeon. Disciplinary actions are
normally listed through the
State Medical Board Websites.
Check on whether or not the surgeon’s malpractice insurance has
ever been cancelled. Alarmingly, most physicians can get
malpractice insurance no matter how bad their record is. There
are some states, like the State of Florida that will allow a surgeon
not to carry insurance, but will require them to put up a bond.
Make sure you check out what your state laws are regarding this
You shouldn’t choose a doctor alone on credentials, as there are
always other factors to weigh in. Experience and your personal
preferences are important too. Making a choice based on the
price of a procedure is not a good idea either. There truly is
no such thing as a discount on quality, skilled care. You
should start your consultation process out with making sure you
visit at least two or three separate physicians, so that you can
compare how you comfortable you feel with them, their opinions and
the approaches they suggest.
Once you have chosen a doctor and are ready to accept treatment, you
have entered into a partnership. For cosmetic treatment, your
doctor should take the lead by treating you with respect according
to the accepted standards in practice. You should pick up on
that lead and follow every instruction you are given before, during,
and after your procedure. The treatment planned and your
obligations as a patient will be spelled out to you in ‘The Informed Consent’
documents. Prior to undergoing treatment, these documents are
presented to you after a full discussion of any associated risks and
It treatment involves the use of injected or
implanted devices or drugs, the informed consent documents must
define specific brands, drugs or devices used. Even if the
treatment is one that you have had in the past, each visit requires
your consent and full disclosure of the device or substance to be
used during the course of treatment. In the case of breast
implants, the brand and type of implant must be defined.
Following treatment, you must be given a serial number and a
warranty card for the implant placed. This is the only type of
warranty you will ever receive on a cosmetic procedure.
Nothing is predicable in life let alone medicine. Simply put
there are no real guarantees. Realistic expectations are
important to the outcome of your procedure, (from the initial
consultation through treatment, recovery and unexpected events).
You must not only choose a doctor you trust, but also forge a
relationship that requires your participation, compliance, and
candid communication between you and your surgeon.
Trusting your life to someone requires complete confidence in that
individual competence. Every surgeon is good when things go
well. But in those unexpected cases when things do not go well
you still need to feel as though you made the right decision.
You have chosen the right surgeon and you know the procedure
recommended is right for you, but are you really ready for plastic
surgery? It is important that you do not take things too
lightly and neither should your surgeon. A good surgeon knows
how to technically adapt to surgery and also know how to identify
who are good candidates and who are not.
Are you or someone close to you going through
significant life changes?
If so, you might want to put off any cosmetic
procedure until your life settles down.
Are you making an impulse decision?
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons
acknowledges that plastic surgery may not be suitable for patients
who have been treated for any dependency or mental health condition
in the past. If you are currently being treated, you need to
be candid with your surgeon and let him know what exactly is going
on with your life.
Are you doing this for yourself or for someone
If someone is pressuring you into surgery, you
should resist. The desire for plastic surgery needs to come
from within yourself as you are going to be the one that has to live
with the surgery and the outcome for the rest of your life.
Plastic Surgery can make other people in your life happy as well as
yourself. It is ethically mandatory that the surgery be what
you want rather than being pressured into this by someone else.
What are your goals?
Having realistic goals about your procedure is
paramount. If you are 57 and you want the surgeon to make you
look like you are 17 again, then you are settling yourself up for a
huge disappointment. The same applies if you are aiming to
change who you are rather than changing certain aspects of your
Is the outcome you are looking for radical and
We all need to remember that plastic surgery
is permanent for the most part or until we go back for a revision.
It isn’t something to be taken lightly, as it isn’t going in for a
haircut. However, everyone has their own ideals with what they
want out of a procedure, and the only person you should be listening
to besides your plastic surgeon is yourself.
What are your real motivations for the surgery?
And ideal candidate for surgery is someone who
feels totally comfortable with who she is, doesn’t perceive herself
as deformed, but just has one specific problem she wants to improve.
Surgery can be transforming, however it doesn’t transform you into
Do you expect surgery to change your life?
Plastic surgery cannot change your marriage or
find the perfect relationship or job. Surgery however does
give a patient new found confidence to face your challenges.
Everyone needs the motivation and the power within themselves to
make changes in your own life.
Are you prepared for depression, confusion, or
disappointment after surgery?
Even if everything goes well with the surgery,
getting the blues during the healing process is very normal.
You may be sore and bruised…..you may not look like yourself and you
might not see immediate results. The new look will take some
time to get use to.
Do you know the risks of the procedure and are
you willing to accept these risks?
You need to know that sometimes things do not
come out exactly as you have planned. You need to ask
yourself, if you can handle the outcome if it isn’t exactly what you
have expected. Realizing that there are no guarantees is so
Do you feel as though you are psychologically
ready for surgery? Do you have the emotional and
logistical support to see this through?
Depending on the procedure you need to have
someone to take you to the doctor and to care for you after.
You want this person to be someone who will not mind running errands
for you and can be a pillar of support during the emotional let down