How do I choose my cosmetic surgeon?
Choosing a doctor for any healthcare need is an important decision that should never be rushed. You should choose a healthcare provider based on his or her training, education, and experience. And many add that intangible intuition – does he or she listen to my concerns and understand them and how comfortable do I feel about him or her?
Many patients are unaware of the difference between cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery. Many believe that board certification in plastic surgery automatically evidences a physician’s competence to perform cosmetic surgery. It does not.
Understanding the difference between cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery
Cosmetic surgery is a subspecialty that uniquely restricts itself to the enhancement of appearance through surgical and medical techniques. It is concerned with maintaining normal appearance, restoring it, or enhancing it toward some aesthetic ideal. Cosmetic surgery is a multi-disciplinary and comprehensive approach that may be directed to the head, neck and body and is practiced by surgeons from a variety of specialties including board-certified dermatologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, Ob/Gyns, ophthalmologists, otorlaryngologists, plastic surgeons and other specialties. Cosmetic surgery is primarily learned during a surgeon’s post residency experience via continuing education, training, and experience.
Unlike cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery deals with the repair, reconstruction or replacement of physical defects of form and function. Although a board certified plastic surgeon may be competent in plastic surgery, it does not automatically indicate competence in cosmetic surgery nor does it indicate more cosmetic surgery education, training, or experience than that of a board-certified dermatologist, general surgeon, ophthalmologist or other surgeon.
Is it better to choose a cosmetic doctor or plastic surgeon?
The fact is that there are many extremely qualified cosmetic surgeons who are not board-certified in plastic surgery. In fact, many cosmetic procedures were developed by physicians from specialties other than plastic surgery. Tumescent liposuction, for example, providing the safest way to perform liposuction, was developed by a dermatologist.
Most surgeons develop their cosmetic surgical skills through post residency training and experience as most residency programs do not encompass significant training in cosmetic procedures.
It is possible for a board certified plastic surgeon, quite competent in many reconstructive procedures, to have little or no experience or training with respect to the particular cosmetic procedure you are interested in having.
Therefore, a patient may find that the most qualified surgeon available in the community to perform a specific cosmetic procedure may be a general surgeon, ophthalmologist, Ob/Gyn or other physician.
Cosmetic surgery may be provided by doctors of various specialties, including dermatology, Ob/Gyn, ophthalmology, plastic surgery, and other surgeons. Do your due diligence. Ask questions, review material that you receive, study any handouts and consents you may be given, and do not hesitate to visit more than one doctor if you are led to do, especially with more complex or elaborate cosmetic procedures or services.
About Dr. Theocharides
Dr. Thomas Theocharides is a board certified Ob/Gyn in Ocean, New Jersey. For nearly a decade, he has been offering patients cosmetic procedures to enhance the way they look and feel. Dr. T’s great interest and passion for aesthetics stem from his unsurpassed dexterity in cosmetic procedures as well as his meticulous nature and artistic eye for beauty and symmetry. Meet Dr. Theocharides