Increasing numbers of people are choosing cosmetic surgery to improve the way they look, and a wide variety of options are available to help them achieve their goal. A record 8.5 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2001, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Dr. Lyle S. Leipziger, chief of plastic surgery at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center, says plastic surgery can dramatically improve one's appearance and boost self-confidence. But choosing a physician with the proper training and experience is key to achieve the desired results and ensure a safe outcome.
Dr. Leipziger offers these tips in choosing a plastic surgeon:
* Look for a physician who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and affiliated with a major teaching hospital. A board-certified plastic surgeon has gone through extensive training and has passed a set of rigorous examinations.
* Check credentials. Increasing numbers of physicians in non-surgical specialties are doing cosmetic surgery procedures. A number of so-called boards or societies with the word "cosmetic" in their name have been popping up, but being a member of these groups does not automatically mean a doctor has completed a high level of training. Patients should not hesitate to ask a doctor to be specific about his board certification. They should confirm that he or she is certified in an area recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. You can also check if someone is a board-certified plastic surgeon by logging on to www.plasticsurgery.org.
* Make sure any doctor doing a surgical procedure in his or her office has privileges to perform the same surgery in a hospital. You can call the hospital to find out.
* You may also be able to find a physician based on recommendations from friends or a family doctor. During your consultation, find out how much experience a doctor has in the specific procedure you are considering.
* Don't rely solely on an advertisement or a physician's Web site when choosing a doctor. Advertisements and information displayed on the Internet are not regulated. Ads can sometimes provide useful information, but remember to check the doctor's experience and credentials.
* Once people find a plastic surgeon, they should feel comfortable and make sure he or she is willing to take the time to answer all of their questions. Any time a patient feels rushed, it's time to look for another physician.
* Be wary of advertisements that tout cosmetic procedures at cut-rate prices. Web sites with such ads should send up a red flag. While fees are an important consideration, they should never be the primary factor in selecting a plastic surgeon.
* Make sure procedures are done in the proper setting. For example, Botox parties are being held in private homes or other venues outside of a medical setting. Sometimes, alcohol is offered at these parties. If you're planning to have a Botox treatment, it would be inappropriate to consume an alcoholic beverage. The effects of alcohol may interfere with the ability to understand consent forms prior to the treatment or to follow important instructions after Botox is administered. For any medical treatment, sanitary surroundings, sterile instruments and a qualified physician help to ensure safety.
Dr. Leipziger says the best candidate for cosmetic surgery is an educated patient with realistic expectations. During the consultation, Dr. Leipziger discusses all options so individuals understand what to expect right before, during and after the procedure.
"We provide individualized care. Cosmetic surgery should not make someone look unnatural or like a different person. The goal is to make the patient look better, more youthful and more refreshed." Anyone who would like more information is invited to call Dr. Leipziger's office: 516-465-8787.