Perhaps in no other area of medicine today are reviews more important and relevant than in plastic surgery.  The advent of internet review sites has allowed consumers to have a newfound insight into the practice of a plastic surgeon and the outcomes from a patient’s perspective on a widespread level that was never before possible.  Previously, plastic surgeons may have gotten new referrals from the friends and family of happy patients, but for those consumers who don’t have any family or friends who have been through the process, choosing a plastic surgeon in Sacramento can be a daunting or even overwhelming experience.

It is always important to ask about the training and background of your surgeon during the consultation process.  An informed consumer has every right to ask about board certification status, training background, licensure status of the provider, accreditation of the operating facility, and history of disciplinary action or legal actions brought against the provider.  Many websites are available to disseminate or confirm this type of information.  Beyond that, many consumers or prospective patients will find it helpful to review a provider’s reviews on the internet.  It is important to understand what a review might potentially mean.

Any provider is bound to have an unhappy patient who has left a negative review.  Human nature is such that unhappy people are far more willing to share their experience than a happy consumer, especially when someone feels they have been particularly wronged.  It is important to realize that patient privacy protection laws make it difficult or even impossible for a provider to respond to a negative review with any facts associated with the review that would potentially expose the reviewer’s identity.  As such, many surgeons elect not to respond to reviews, even if the information provided in the review is not entirely accurate; there is always more than one side to a story.  An educated consumer will often have to ask themselves if the reviewer actually had a treatment or surgery by the provider or if the negative experience even had anything to do with the provider.  Multiple reviews that contradict a single negative review may appropriately draw skepticism about the negative review.

Likewise, a positive review is only worthwhile if the patient can relate their personal experience.  Perhaps the most revealing type of review is one in which the patient can relate their experience from beginning to end, and while he or she may have glowing things to say about the surgeon or the staff, telling a story of the experience, including the trepidation going into the procedure or relating the provider’s response to complications can be very enlightening to other potential patients.  Additionally, no provider has 100% happy patients, so if a provider has all positive reviews with nothing negative whatsoever, one has to be careful in placing absolute trust in the reviews posted.

There is no perfect formula for picking a plastic surgeon.  Having a good fit and feeling with the surgeon during the consultation is perhaps one of the most important aspects of the process, but referrals from friends and family, a thorough check of the provider’s background, and researching a surgeon’s reviews can complete the decision-making process and make a prospective patient more comfortable with their decision to move forward with a particular surgeon or office.   Additionally, review websites that specialize in the medical field, especially plastic surgery, can be especially helpful.  And remember, regardless of your experience (hopefully it was positive), it is helpful to others if you can share your own experience and leave a review.  If a surgeon’s reviews are mostly positive, likely there are many times that number of patients who were also happy but didn’t take the time to leave a review.

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Choosing the right surgeon will be the most important decision you make during your plastic surgery process. So how can you be sure that your surgeon has the proper training and education? Many patients assume that a physician or surgeon must be qualified to perform the procedures they’re offering, however, this is not the case. The only way to be sure your plastic surgeon has had the proper education and training is to make sure they are board-certified and properly credentialed.

What it Means to be Board-Certified in Plastic Surgery

A surgeon who is actually board-certified has been awarded by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), which is no small accomplishment! The ABPS works to ensure that plastic surgeons have gone through extensive education and training before they begin practicing plastic surgery. By doing this, the ABPS promotes safe, ethical, and effective plastic surgery practice. On average, this training includes 16 years of school after high school, including training specifically in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.  A successfully Board Certified Plastic Surgeon must also demonstrate that their approach to plastic surgery challenges is safe and effective through extensive oral and written testing.

My Doc says He’s “Board Certified”.  Isn’t That Good Enough?

Unfortunately, many doctors with a general medical background look to profit off of cosmetic plastic surgery even though they have not had the proper exposure, experience and training. Don’t assume that a doctor who says they are board certified has been certified by the ABPS. If the board they are certified under is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), you can’t be sure that they have actually gone through the proper training and testing. For example, the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery is not recognized by the ABMS but many surgeons with this certificate will still call themselves “board certified.” To become a Cosmetic Surgeon, formal training in general surgery is required and usually additional training in cosmetic surgery. While this does not rise to the level of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery training, at least the surgeon has accomplished surgical training with additional cosmetic exposure.

However, you might also run into doctors who are certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, Family Practice or even Pediatrics.  Even though all of these boards are recognized by the ABMS, the training involved usually includes no formal training in surgery or plastic surgery and potentially little if any exposure to surgery at all.  A weekend course designed to provide exposure to any procedure that is beyond the scope of practice in which the doctor was trained is simply inadequate and can put the patient at significant risk for danger.  Do your homework and don’t be afraid to ask your surgeon about his or her training!  Anyone properly trained and certified by the ABPS will be proud to answer questions about training and certification and will be delighted you asked.

If you are within travel distance to the Sacramento, CA area, you can trust double Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Sweat (American Board of Surgery, American Board of Plastic Surgery) with all your plastic surgery needs! Contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation.

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