HomeHealth:  Plastic Surgery

Thinking about Plastic or Reconstructive Surgery?

With the recent surge in television shows such as "Extreme Makeover" and "Drastic Plastic," it should come as no surprise that plastic surgery is a common occurrence in America today. In fact, according to a recent survey by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), there were nearly two million cosmetic surgical procedures performed in 2003 alone. This is an 87 percent increase since 1997.

Unfortunately, however, the rise in surgical cosmetic procedures has also caused a rise in the number of plastic surgeries gone wrong. As more middle-class Americans seek elective surgeries not usually covered by medical insurance, more and more clinics offer "bargain" prices that may include sub-par care. Additionally, as the plastic surgery business becomes more lucrative, many doctors not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) have begun practicing. With all of these confusing twists and turns, how can a patient learn to navigate the road to a safe and effective cosmetic procedure for a reasonable price?

How to Make Your Plastic Surgery a Success

Before even entering a doctor's office, you need to learn how to make your plastic surgery a success. The first step should, obviously, be to decide what procedures you are interested in having done. Be realistic in this goal. There is no such thing as a "perfect body," and though the thought of having multiple procedures at once might seem appealing, remember that it can also be dangerous, painful, and quite costly. During this initial step, the Internet can be your best friend. Use it to research the possible side effects of various procedures and to read both the success and disaster stories of various other people who have had this done. If possible, you might also want to consider consulting acquaintances who are personally familiar with the procedure.

Only after you are completely comfortable with your list of desired procedures should you begin searching for a surgeon. The most important quality in a surgeon is whether or not they are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). This is highly important: Any doctor can legally practice cosmetic surgery in the United States, even without special training. However, those that are board certified have received special training and are more likely to do a nice job. While searching for a surgeon, keep in mind that he/she should make you feel comfortable and should be up-front and honest about the results you can expect, the possible dangers, the price, etc. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with getting several opinions before making a final decision. Finally, remember that surgery, though often not covered by insurance, is not something for which you want to "bargain shop." Your health and life, as well as your looks, are in the hands of your surgeon, so you want to make sure you are picking a good one.

There is a ton of information out there. Take advantage of it. The best defense against being mislead, persuaded, or pressured into a medical mistake is knowledge. When you are equipped with the facts, you can be confident that you are making the right medical decisions. Therefore, with a little research and patience, you can be on your way to a better physical appearance in no time. Good luck!