Welcome to the 7 critical questions to ask any surgeon before letting them touch you. Since its publication, this short guide by Dr. Sam Speron has helped thousands of patients like you to safely navigate the world of cosmetic surgery. It has just been updated and a bonus section, Applying the 7 Questions, has also been added. Without further delay, let’s get started with the first question.
You may be surprised to learn that in most states, a licensed physician may perform plastic surgery without having any surgical training outside of a brief rotation during medical school. It’s true… and someone such as a family doctor, with basically no surgical skills, can advertise that he is a plastic surgeon.
You may see that some doctors claim to be certified in something similar to plastic surgery or even claim to be triple board certified, which may sound impressive. These credentials generally mean little or nothing, however, and again these doctors may have no formal surgical training. So, how can you tell if a doctor is a legitimate plastic surgeon? Call the American Society of Plastic Surgeons at 1-888-4-PLASTIC or visit www.plasticsurgery.org for your answer.
For cosmetic plastic surgery, you can make sure your surgeon has also been awarded membership in the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the cream of the crop of plastic surgeons. Visit www.surgery.org. Arguably, this exclusive group contains the world’s top cosmetic plastic surgeons.
Board certification in plastic surgery is about intense surgical training that spans at least six years after medical school. These surgeons complete three years training in reconstructive and cosmetic procedures after already completing at least 3 years of general surgery. They then must pass comprehensive oral and written exams for board certification.
Lastly, ASPS and ASAPS require attendance in continuing medical education courses and adherence to a strict code of ethics. Real plastic surgeons don’t need to partake in unethical advertising practices or falsification of credentials. Are these the qualities that you want your surgeon to possess?
Dr. Speron has achieved and maintained active membership in both the ASPS and the ASAPS.
2. How long has the doctor been performing your procedure?
You will want to pick a doctor who is at the peak of his or her career. Most doctors are considered to be seasoned experts after 10 years of regularly performing a procedure.
In the past year alone, Dr. Speron has performed hundreds of cosmetic procedures such as facelift, breast, liposuction, tummy tuck, eyelid and neck procedures plus minor cosmetic procedures such as mole removal, skin cancer removal, laser skin rejuvenation, laser hair removal, laser vein removal, Botox and filler injections.
Dr. Speron has been in private practice on his own since 2000.
3. Can you look at typical “before and after” photos?
One good way to get an idea of the doctor’s talent is to look at “before and after” photographs. Study the photos to see what results the doctor achieves. Also, be sure to check the amount of time that has passed between each photo and to make sure they aren’t distorted or “photoshopped.”
4. Can you speak with a patient who has had this procedure?
Happy patients are the key to a successful plastic surgery practice. If you can speak with an actual patient, they can give you their honest, real-life experience. You’ll satisfy your curiosity about any pain or discomfort, the true length of the recovery process and, of course, whether or not they would choose that doctor again.
In Dr. Speron’s office, there are many different patients that you can speak to at your convenience and ask any questions that are on your mind. They are waiting to tell you about their experience.
5. Where is your procedure to be performed and why?
If it’s in an office, you need to know if the doctor has hospital privileges for that exact procedure. Many do procedures in their office because they’ve been refused such privileges at a hospital. Usually, it is a lack of proper certification and training that will cause hospitals to refuse such privileges. You should ask directly if the doctor has surgical privileges at a local hospital, the name of the hospital, and specifically for that procedure. If hospitals do not trust the doctor’s skills, you shouldn’t.
Are you having general anesthesia performed? Who will be performing the anesthesia and who will be monitoring you? Ask questions and only have your surgery knowing that you are in safe hands.
Dr. Speron performs his general anesthesia procedures at an accredited hospital surgical center. In his office surgery suite, the doctor performs procedures that he can also perform at hospitals where he has full privileges. He uses oral sedation in his office instead of general anesthesia in order to minimize risk.
6. Does the office offer financing?
Can you pay by credit card? Which cards are accepted? Is there any kind of other finance arrangements directly with the office? Since many people can’t afford to pay for cosmetic procedures up front, this may be an important question to consider.
Dr. Speron’s office offers financing options with no prepayment penalty through Care Credit. Also accepted are cash, checks, money orders, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.
7. Who will perform the surgery and all of the postoperative care?
Will the doctor actually perform the whole procedure or will a surgeon-in-training, such as a medical student, resident, or fellow take part? What about your postoperative care? Even though Dr. Speron teaches and lectures at teaching hospitals, he personally performs his procedures. No residents or medical students perform any part of them. Unfortunately, big academic hospitals typically use students and do not disclose this prior to surgery. Make sure that you ask.
After performing surgery, Dr. Speron calls his patients that night and then sees them the next day. He next sees them in four days, two weeks, six weeks, three months, six months, one year and then every year following. Dr. Speron stays in touch once he’s performed an operation. Being abandoned is a common fear and complaint from patients in the world of cosmetic surgery. It is important that you have a doctor who wants your continued happiness and satisfaction.
Now that we have completed the 7 Critical Questions, we can take a minute to go through Dr. Speron’s bonus section, Applying the 7 Critical Questions.
Tip number 1 - Interview as many Doctors as necessary and Go With Your Instincts
By visiting the doctor’s office, you can observe how you are treated. Are staff eager to answer your questions and concerns? Do you connect easily with them? Does the doctor really listen to you? Your general gut feeling will most often be the right choice. Trust that feeling. Likewise, if you are uneasy about anything, see another doctor and compare the experience.
Tip number 2 - Prepare Good Questions and Be Realistic
It’s important to know what can and cannot be done with your surgery. By getting educated, you’ll have an understanding of realistic expectations, limitations, and questions to ask. From his experience, Dr. Speron believes that patients who communicate are more likely to achieve what they want. And remember, it’s better to ask the question than to assume. Your question may not only help to clarify expectations, but may also help you to get the correct procedure for your goals.
We hope that you have enjoyed this presentation of the 7 Critical Questions. Our office wishes you the best of luck with achieving happy results.