Choosing Your Surgeon
Having plastic surgery is a life changing decision, one that will permanently affect the way you look and function. With such far-reaching implications, it is imperative to make sure you have complete confidence in the person performing your procedure. In Australia, anyone with a medical degree can call themselves a cosmetic surgeon and perform cosmetic surgery procedures, as long as the patient has given permission for the procedure to be carried out. This means that patients are at risk of being operated on by someone who has no surgical training. The results of these procedures can be devastating and may be irreversible. This is why, when you are choosing someone to perform your plastic surgery procedure, you should carefully consider a number of points.
Top Ten considerations when choosing a Plastic Surgeon
Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS)
Are you dealing with a qualified plastic surgeon? Many people use the terms plastic surgeon and cosmetic surgeon interchangeably, but there is a very important distinction between the two. To become a qualified plastic surgeon, a doctor must undertake eight to ten years of specialist training through the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. This qualification is denoted by the letters ‘FRACS’, which are shown after a plastic surgeon’s name. No additional training beyond a basic medical degree is required to use the term ‘cosmetic surgeon’ and therefore, the level of skill of a cosmetic surgeon cannot be reliably determined.
Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)
Is the surgeon a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons? The ASPS is a not-for-profit organisation designed to develop and promote the integrity of plastic surgery in Australia. All members must fulfil specific criteria including holding FRACS qualifications, operating in accredited facilities, adhering to the ASPS code of practice, and meeting ongoing professional development requirements. If your surgeon has ASPS membership, you can be confident that they carry out their work with a reliable and high standard of ethics and professionalism. Mr Andrew Ives possesses both FRACS qualifications and ASPS membership and can be verified by searching on the ASPS website.
Is the surgeon being honest? A good surgeon will tell you all of the information you need to know, even the parts that you might not want to hear. That doesn't mean that a good surgeon will be rude. It means that they will tell you, in a respectful and professional manner, whether the results you want are realistically attainable and safe, the best procedure to achieve your desired result, the risks and possible complications involved in the procedure, whether you are a good candidate for surgery, and what the costs will be.
Quality of care
Does the surgeon offer holistic care? A thorough surgeon will ensure that they meet with a patient as many times as is required prior to surgery, will schedule post-surgical appointments to ensure recovery is progressing well, and will make themselves available to patients should they experience complications after their procedure. For this reason, it is best to choose a surgeon who practises locally and will be easily accessible should problems arise after surgery.
How long has the surgeon been practising? How many times have they performed the procedure you are interested in? An experienced surgeon has had more opportunity to build skill and develop the confidence to deal with any complications that may arise during surgery. An experienced surgeon will also have more examples of past work available to view and more patients for you to confer with.
Do you feel comfortable with the surgeon? The surgeon you choose will be responsible for changing the way you look and function. It is important that you feel comfortable enough to ask questions and share personal details with them about your medical history. An open dialogue between surgeon and patient is vital to successful plastic surgery outcomes. You should also feel completely comfortable with the procedure recommended by the surgeon. At no time should you feel pressured to undergo a procedure you are not comfortable with.
Can the surgeon provide specific details about the procedure, level of care, and costs? A reliable surgeon will describe the recommended surgery in detail to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of the complete procedure. They will also be specific about the risks involved, possible complications and the expected outcome. Lastly, the surgeon should advise the expected costs of the procedure and the way these costs are broken down.
Examples of work
Can the surgeon provide examples of previous work? A successful surgeon will be happy to share photographs of previous procedures with you, allowing you to see the quality of their work.
First hand accounts
What do previous patients say about the surgeon? One of the best ways to find out about both a surgeon and a procedure is to speak with patients who have already undergone the same surgery. Ask the surgeon whether they can refer you to any of their previous patients who are willing to speak about their experience. Also ask friends and relatives about their experiences with plastic surgeons.
Does the surgeon operate in an accredited facility? If the surgeon is an ASPS member, they will only operate in accredited healthcare facilities. Accreditation means that the facility meets a set of readily available standards determined by an independent third party. An accredited facility offers a certified level of safety and professional care.
This list is by no means exhaustive but provides a starting point in determining which plastic surgeon is right for you.