Choosing the right cosmetic surgeon for you procedure is your most important decision and here’s why and how to choose. Patients should choose their Cosmetic Surgeon on his/her training, education, experience and demonstrated practice history in the specific procedure they are considering rather than on formal qualifications alone.
False Messages Misinform Patients.
Consumers considering Cosmetic Surgery are almost universally unaware of the difference between “Cosmetic” and “Plastic” surgery. For this reason, they are easily misled to believe that a qualification in Plastic Surgery is evidence enough of a doctor’s competence to perform Cosmetic Surgery. In reality it is not! Unfortunately, the media almost universally equates Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery as one and the same. Consumer’s misinformation in this regard has them relying on incomplete and false information when choosing a doctor to perform their cosmetic procedure.
Understanding The Difference Between Cosmetic Surgery And Plastic Surgery.
Cosmetic Surgery is a speciality that deals specifically with the enhancement of appearance through surgical and non-surgical techniques. Plastic Surgery, on the other hand, deals with the restoration of appearance or function of some part of the body affected by trauma, disease or birth defect – for example burns, trauma, birth deformities, skin cancers, breast reconstruction after mastectomy, and so on. These are types of procedures Plastic Surgeons in Public Hospitals receive their training in. Consumers must understand that while Plastic Surgery in taught at Public Hospitals, Cosmetic Surgery is not. Training programs in Plastic Surgery at Public Hospitals do not encompass significant training in the vast array of cosmetic procedures and certainly do not provide adequate training to render a Plastic Surgeon Graduate prepared to practise Cosmetic Surgery. Why is this so? Simply because Cosmetic Surgery is not performed in Public Hospitals and therefore Plastic Surgery Trainees are not exposed to the great number of cosmetic procedures one requires to be skilled at to adequately perform Cosmetic Surgery.
It follows, therefore, that a doctor can become a fully accredited Plastic Surgeon through his Public Hospital training without having ever performed a single cosmetic procedure.
Therefore to claim proficiency in Cosmetic Surgery by virtue of a degree in Plastic Surgery is false and misleading to the public. Plastic Surgeons who wish to practise Cosmetic Surgery after graduating as Plastic Surgeons develop their cosmetic surgical skills after they leave the public hospital arena through their own additional self-directed training specifically in cosmetic surgery procedures. Not all Plastic Surgeons chose to do this. Accordingly, not all Plastic Surgeons practise Cosmetic Surgery.
Therefore, while a degree in Plastic Surgery may evidence a doctor competent in “Plastic Surgery”, it does not evidence competency in “Cosmetic Surgery”. Nor does it demonstrate more “Cosmetic Surgery” education, training or experience than that of a Certified Cosmetic Surgeon.
Yet many Plastic Surgeons seek to equate the terms “plastic” and “cosmetic” in order to represent that their degree in Plastic Surgery is evidence of their competency to perform “ cosmetic” procedures. The spreading of this misconception reduces patient choice and jeopardises patient safety. The “message” often repeated in various forums and published in advertisements by various qualified Plastic Surgeons across the country falsely and deceptively informs consumers that:
• A degree in Plastic Surgery is evidence of competency in Cosmetic Surgery
• Doctors who are not qualified Plastic Surgeons are not competent to perform Cosmetic surgery
• The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons is the only “recognised” body with regard to the practice of Cosmetic Surgery
The term “plastic surgery” is synonymous with “cosmetic surgery” or that the term “Plastic Surgeon” is synonymous with “Cosmetic Surgeon”
This misinformation has consumers believing that when searching for a Cosmetic Surgeon to perform Cosmetic Surgery, they must look only for a Plastic Surgeon and that they cannot find a competent Cosmetic Surgeon elsewhere.
This message, which directs consumers to consider only Plastic Surgeons when searching for a qualified Cosmetic Surgeon is false and harms consumers in the following two ways:
• It Reduces Patient Choice.
There are many extremely qualified Cosmetic Surgeons who are not qualified Plastic Surgeons. In fact many cosmetic procedures were developed by doctors from specialities other than Plastic Surgery.
Therefore, to select the most qualified surgeon for any given cosmetic procedure, a patient must look at and compare the surgeons’ post-hospital residency training, experience and practice history in the very cosmetic procedure they are considering. Consumers lead to consider only qualified Plastic Surgeons rely on irrelevant criteria and accordingly have their choice greatly reduced.
• It Can Direct Patients To Potentially Inexperienced Doctors For Their Cosmetic Surgery.
A doctor may complete a Plastic Surgery residency training programme, pass their Plastic Surgery examinations, and become a qualified Plastic Surgeon without ever performing or receiving training in a single cosmetic procedure! And while competence in Cosmetic Surgery is determined by a doctor’s training, experience and judgement, the false message has consumers believing that a degree in Plastic Surgery is the golden seal when seeking a Cosmetic Surgeon. Arbitrarily attributing expertise and competency in Cosmetic Surgeons to Plastic Surgeons who may be unqualified (i.e. those plastic surgeons with inadequate or no training with the respect to a given cosmetic procedure), place consumers at risk.
Information Cosmetic Patients Should Consider.
Above all, patients should consider the training, education, experience and demonstrated practise history of the surgeon in the very procedure they are considering. The true message all Cosmetic Surgery consumers should be given is that there are experienced Cosmetic Surgeons from various disciplines, including Plastic Surgery, just as there are surgeons from those surgeons from the same disciplines, again including Plastic Surgery, who are not experienced in Cosmetic Surgery.
It is for these and other reasons that other Cosmetic surgeical groups throughout the world have been established. Surgical Fellowship status and training “specifically” in cosmetic surgery is bestowed only upon those doctors who have met the criteria of preliminary training PLUS a minimum of three years training specifically in Cosmetic Surgery.
The Most Important Criteria Prospective Patients Should Consider
Whether you are seeing a Cosmetic Surgeon or Plastic Surgeon, before deciding to proceed with that surgeon, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to seek straightforward answers to the following questions:
• How many procedures of the type you are considering has she/he done
• How many procedures of the type you are considering does he/she currently do per month?
• What complications have they seen
• Have they been the subject of any litigation in that procedure? If so, how many times?
Careful consideration of these answers should enable you to make the correct choice of surgeon for the procedure you are contemplating. If you are not completely satisfied with all the answers, see someone else aswell.