Beautiful San Diego, beautiful beaches, exhilarating sunshine and beautiful people. In fact, the quest for youthfulness and beauty has continued to ascend the ladder of priority in Southern California. A twenty-two year old opts for a breast augmentation rather than making a down payment on a car. A sixty-seven year old saves her social security checks for a facelift. A forty-eight year old male from La Jolla opts to have liposuction in preparation for his thirtieth high school reunion.
With over one hundred plastic surgeons in San Diego and almost as many dentists and doctors who call themselves “cosmetic surgeons”, where do you turn for plastic surgery? How do you decide whether your dentist is qualified to do a blepharoplasty, or your dermatologist is competent to do your facelift or liposuction, or the ENT (ear, nose & throat) is qualified to do a breast augmentation?
Well, if you’re like most patients seeking plastic surgery, you spend more time shopping for a pair of shoes than your surgeon (An actual statistic). An ill-fitting pair of shoes can be returned to Nordstrom; a procedure gone wrong by choosing an unqualified physician can impact the rest of your life!
A Board certified plastic surgeon spends a minimum of six years of intensive surgical training followed by comprehensive written and oral exams prior to embarking into practice. Some of us pursue additional subspecialized training. For example, my surgical training lasted almost nine years. My mentors were recognized national and international experts in plastic surgery and have dedicated a significant part of their life advancing this art.
Yet, there are physicians who claim to be cosmetic surgeons after a weekend course – or have had no formal surgical training (dermatology, for example, has traditionally been considered a medical specialty – not a surgical specialty). They have given rise to official sounding “societies” such as the American Society of Cosmetic Surgery whose name mimics the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) but pales in comparison to its ethical and stringent standards.
They have taken the term “plastic surgery” and twisted it into various forms until it has become mutated. They have come up with catchy procedure names (an ENT surgeon whose technique of doing breast augmentation is named after a musical instrument or a dermatologist promoting their “weekend facelift”). They have effectively duped the public by riding on the coat tails of plastic surgeons and contaminated this previously pure art form. This fact hit home when one of my patients, who is in the TV media business. She asked me if I was both a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon. Being grouped with these non-surgically trained “cosmetic surgeons” was really interesting to me.
Be vigilant! The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) as providing comprehensive care in plastic surgery. Ask your physician two simple questions:
-Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
-Are you qualified to perform these procedures at the hospital?
And if you have the time, ask how many years of formal surgical training they have completed.
Certified, American Board of Plastic Surgery